Yesterday, an NBC reporter passed around a supposed scoop that retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy negotiated with President Trump to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh — his former clerk — as his replacement in exchange for agreeing to retire before the 2018 midterms.

This “scoop” was passed around all over social media. Well-known celebrities and pundits began going crazy, saying this must be investigated and hearings were essential to get to the bottom of this horrific quid pro quo that could threaten the very fabric of our democracy.

Then the reporter in question deleted the tweet after revealing she had heard the information third hand and it was not that Kennedy had insisted on Kavanaugh, but that he may have been shown a list of possible replacements.

So, in other words, there was no story and all of the outrage was for nothing.

That has not stopped people from wildly and recklessly repeating it, even as I write this.

This whole situation is terrible and sadly not unique in the slightest.

I could fill a book with all of the salacious stories about President Trump that have been passed around since his inauguration only to later be proven false.

This boils down to two things: the need to get the story first rather than getting it right, and the desire to bring down the president.

The first matter I listed is entirely on journalists. There is zero excuse for the type of sloppy reporting done on stories like these and I hope NBC reprimanded the reporter in question accordingly.

As for the second, I blame that partially on journalists, but more on the combination of social media and the echo chamber it produces.

A story that is potentially very damaging to the president comes out. Instead of waiting for all of the facts — or even reading past the headline — you share it on your social media accounts with an angry screed about the president to go with it.

Later, this story turns out to be false, but you do not care, because you think the president is doing something bad somehow, anyway, so why dos it matter if this specific story is true?

That attitude is exactly why so many Americans simply do not trust the press or those who pass around the stories they have written.

America needs a free and trustworthy press, because while I am a supporter of the president, every government official should always be held to the highest possible standard.

That is what the press is for.

But when stories like these come out every day and the media writ large seems uninterested in fixing the problem, you find yourself in a boy who cried wolf situation where it becomes tough to take anything at face value.

The media needs to be more careful and those with big platforms on social media do, too.

Why the latter group when they are not even the ones reporting the story?

Well, because if their intent is to convince people the president is bad, constantly sharing stories that turn out to be false is eventually going to drive people to lose trust in any negative stories printed about him.

If that is what these people want, then fine, they should go ahead and eep doing what they are doing.

But if they actually want to influence people? Then they may want to proceed with a little more caution going forward.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store