Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling regularly uses her Twitter account as a megaphone for promoting progressive causes, an activity that involves a fair amount of self-satisfied moralizing on her part. The writer's tweets last week shaming President Trump for allegedly ignoring the outstretched hand of a disabled boy smacked of that same inflated sense of superiority.
Unfortunately for Rowling, however, the video on which she based her criticism was misleading. The full, unedited footage shows Trump heading directly to the wheelchair-bound boy upon entering the room, spending nearly ten seconds greeting him.
"Ummm," the child's mom wrote on Facebook, "if someone can please get a message to JK Rowling. Trump didn't snub my son & Monty wasn't even trying to shake his hand (1. He's 3 and hand shaking is not his thing. 2. He was showing off his newly acquired secret service patch). Thanks."
People of all political philosophies inadvertently propagate misinformation at times. It's often an honest mistake, made much easier by the rapid pace of social media. Though the damage is often irreversible, it's a simple enough matter to delete the false information and issue a retraction or apology. In fact, in this particular case, the person who uploaded the original video, along with Keith Olbermann and Chelsea Clinton who also chimed in, deleted the offending posts.
Rowling, Twitter's great champion of decency, has not.
Her tweets accused Trump of "[pretending] not to see a child in a wheelchair, as though frightened he may catch his condition," and alleged, "This monster of narcissism values only himself and his pale reflections. The disabled, minorities, transgender people, the poor, women… are treated with contempt, because they do not resemble Trump."
"How stunning and how horrible, that Trump cannot bring himself to shake the hand of a small boy who only wanted to touch the President," Rowling wrote.
Meanwhile, she's willfully smearing the character of the American president to millions of people by proliferating false information regarding him and regarding disabled boy about whom she purports to care. That's called lying.
If Rowling wishes to salvage her credibility as a moral crusader, she will delete the lies and admit to her wrongdoing. But it's already been days without a word from the author to her 11.4 million followers.
"No people are more frequently wrong than those who will not admit they are wrong," Rowling posted in response to the original video last Friday, quoting Maya Angelou.
Ironically, that adage turned out to be an excellent judgment on her own character. In fact, it's the one tweet from the ordeal Rowling shouldn't bother to delete at all.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.