Yesterday a small Puerto Rican news site published a story in which Donald Trump is reported to have told a group of potential donors that, if elected president, he would revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone born in Puerto Rico.
— NoticiasPRTV (@Noticias_PRTV) August 21, 2015
The story was quickly shared by another Puerto Rican site.
— Tu Noticia PR (@TuNoticiaPR) August 21, 2015
Neither article quotes Trump directly, and the second article mentions “South American news media” without providing a link or naming which outlets in particular.
Unable to find other reports to corroborate the story, we decided not to run it.
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) August 21, 2015
We awoke this morning to find that Trump’s alleged statement has been picked up by other sites, even appearing in a Univision forum.
Now, it could be that Trump did actually say what he’s rumored to have said, but without at least a single confirmed source to back up the story, it’s merely rumor. Whether fact or fiction, the story is bad journalism, and bad journalism leads to the spread of bad information.
Plus, given the spotlight on Trump’s campaign at the moment, if this story were true, it would’ve been picked up by plenty of other news outlets. Puerto Ricans are peeved when they’re described as drug dealers, so a presidential candidate promising to revoke their citizenship would be major news—if the story were true.
With a ton of rumors and allegations presented as facts, people are fired up for the wrong reasons. The truth is you don’t have to put words in Trump’s mouth in order to outrage the public, because Trump already says outrageous stuff all by himself.
Then there’s the New York Times story in which a Trump supporter is quoted as saying:
Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill.’
A Trump supporter actually said that, and we can be relatively certain of it because it’s quoted directly by a proven news outlet—either whose reputation will be ruined or whose revenue would take a hit if it were discovered that they printed bad information. This is how critical readers try to discern the truth from lies.
Unfortunately, with 2016 fast approaching, we can expect more hearsay and outright lies passed along as news. People will be looking to spur hatred against the party they disagree with, so we haven’t seen the last of these trumped-up stories.