News, both real and fake is swift to spread on social media — and people don’t always get things right, particularly when a story is emerging. The latest fake news outbreak was triggered not by individuals falling for fake posts or propaganda, but by a major news network (falling for fake posts or propaganda).
As Iran took a retaliatory swipe at the United States last week, striking a US military stronghold in Iraq, MSNBC reported a little more than just the news – they also shared Iranian propaganda. The station later admitted this, according to Breitbart.
The false narrative spread the news that United States service men and women were killed in the Iranian attack – 30 of them. This number was created and repeated by Iran – and picked up by MSNBC. It was later revealed that no soldiers were lost in the attack on the base.
According to Breitbart, the network shared a video with the following statement:
“We’re just getting reports now that a second wave of rocket attacks has been launched from Iran. The IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] was saying that Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of this country, was in the control center coordinating these attacks. This bit I’m not sure about, but Iran state media is claiming that 30 U.S soldiers have been killed in this attack. This is not confirmed. This is just coming from Iranian media. But we have just stepped over the precipice, Chris,” Ali Arouzi, NBC’s Tehran Bureau Chief reported at the time.
Breitbart said it called out Arouzi for these statements for a variety of reasons:
- The information shared came from the IRGC and was designed to show that the Iranian leader and force was in control.
- The source was a known propaganda site, under Iranian government control.
- The reporter shares the news, but says he is “not sure” about the accuracy or that soldiers had been killed – but continues to share the news anyway.
- The reporter is sharing “news,” but then declares that we’ve crossed some kind of irrevocable line – a precipice – meaning the point of no return for war or aggression. This was not the case and was not based on any form of news, it was simple opinion.
All of these factors mean that not only was the reporter in question sharing “facts” that were completely unconfirmed and speculative, they were also interjecting their own opinions into the mix.
Sharing this “news” simply bolstered Iran and presented them in a much more powerful light than they actually have. Had the network waited for confirmation from anyone beyond speculation from Iran’s propaganda network, they would have realized that the “30 deaths” was far from true; no soldier deaths were reported and damage was restricted to property and unoccupied structures.
By pushing this narrative, MSNBC not only shared propaganda and likely scared some viewers – they also abandoned any effort at pretense when it comes to journalistic integrity.