It was only a matter of time before it came for the U.S. Treasury Secretary.
Steven Mnuchin became the latest victim of the fake news scourge Thursday after he declined to say in an interview whether the Treasury Department was still committed to the excellent proposal of replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.
Truth be told, Mnuchin didn't say much of anything about the issue.
It started with a question from CNBC's Steve Liesman, who asked if the Treasury Secretary supported the previous administration's proposal to update the face of the $20 bill.
Mnuchin declined to give a straight answer.
"Let me just comment on, you know, ultimately we will be looking at this issue. It's not something that I'm focused on at the moment, but the number one issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting. So the issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes, and I've received classified briefings on that. That's what I'm focused on for the moment," he said
He added after some pressing from Liesman, "people have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we'll consider. Right now we got a lot more important issues to focus on."
As you can see, there's not much to pick through in Mnuchin's response. He hemmed. He hawed. He evaded the question, and he didn't say much of anything. That was likely the goal all along. Welcome to Washington, D.C.
What Mnuchin didn't do was signal one way or another the Treasury Department's plan for the $20 bill. That was likely the whole point of his noncommittal answer; to speak without saying anything at all.
Nevertheless, certain newsrooms took it upon themselves Thursday to try to decipher Mnuchin's real meaning.
"Sounds Like Trump's Treasury Secretary Won't Put Harriet Tubman on the $20," Vice reported in a headline that inferred an awful lot from his non-answer.
The worst media offender was the Hill, which ran the absurdly dishonest headline, "Mnuchin: I may scrap plan to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill."
And as if the headline weren't bad enough, the body of the Hill's report was equally irresponsible:
Things snowballed from there. The name "Harriet Tubman" soon trended on Twitter, as angry social media users accused the Treasury Secretary of trying to erase the memory of a great abolitionist hero.
"The Trump administration wants America to get rid of Harriet Tubman but keep racist Confederate statues intact. Got it," said anti-gun activist Shannon Watts.
NARAL Pro-Choice America added elsewhere in response to the Hill's story, "The Trump administration is so threatened by the existence of women & people of color, they can't even acknowledge Harriet Tubman on the $20."
"I really, really, REALLY don't like these [people]," said New York Times columnist Charles Blow.
It goes on for that for quite a bit, which is impressive considering it's all in response to a set of substance-free remarks.
It's unclear why Mnuchin chose to be cagey about the Tubman proposal (it's possible it has something to do with President Trump's fondness for Jackson), and it's disappointing that the Treasury Secretary appears to be disinterested in the idea. But that doesn't excuse the newsrooms and activists who are accusing him of saying things he never said.
It's sort of amazing, really. You can say practically nothing at all, and still have the world barking down your throat. All it takes is one well-placed lie and enough people willing to believe.
Welcome to fake news.