Breitbart News appears to have published and quietly deleted an article on its website based on misinformation spread by right-wing social media influencers.
President Donald Trump delivered the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night and gave the nation his reelection pitch for 2020. On Wednesday, pro-Trump influencers praised Trump’s speech, attacked Pelosi for tearing in half in her copy of the president’s speech, and spread misinformation about the public’s reaction to Trump’s speech.
Several high-profile pro-Trump social media personalities shared images of poll results published by CBS and YouGov after Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address. The poll results from 2019 showed that voters who identified as independent largely approved of Trump’s address last year. A CNN poll produced after Trump’s address this year found that “59% of viewers had a very positive reaction to the speech, 17% had a somewhat positive reaction and 23% had a negative reaction,” Real Clear Politics reported. (It is worth noting that many Democrats and Independents told the Economist and YouGov they did not plan to watch the 2020 State of the Union and thus would not be included in the poll.)
Nevertheless, screenshots of the old poll were repeatedly circulated Wednesday in pro-Trump corners of the internet, including Reddit’s pro-Trump forum, which Reddit moderators quarantined—that is, restricted—because moderators failed to address threats of violence present in their community. Soon after, the material was shared on Twitter where it spread further.
Rogan O’Handley, who runs the popular conservative Instagram account DC Draino, tweeted the old results as if they were current, stating that people across the U.S. “saw Trump’s success and Nancy’s classless behavior.”
Jesse Kelly, a senior contributor to The Federalist, shared the image of the 2019 poll as if it were current. Kelly’s tweet was retweeted hundreds of times.
The image was then recirculated by right-wing social media personality Mike Cernovich, who was also retweeted hundreds of times.
Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce shared a link to a Breitbart story this afternoon with the headline, “CBS Poll: 82% of Independents Approve Trump’s SOTU Address,” apparently citing the graphic for the 2019 poll. Breitbart appears to have since deleted the story Bruce linked to, although the URL still displays the original headline.
The image has since recirculated in pro-Trump spaces online, such as Reddit’s “The_Donald,” further reinforcing the misinformation.