This year's NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, did not decide unanimously to reject an invitation from the White House. This particular load of garbage was spread online early Tuesday morning by CNBC's Josh Brown.
"NBA champion Warriors skipping the White House visit, as a unanimous team decision per reports," he tweeted.
NBA champion Warriors skipping the White House visit, as a unanimous team decision per reports.— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) June 13, 2017
Pressed for his sources, Brown responded, "just repeated a few other verified users on twitter who had said it early this morning. I have no idea if its true, hence ‘per reports.'"
It's all baloney.
The Warriors did not even receive an invitation from the White House yet, let alone vote unanimously to reject it, they said Tuesday.
"We have not received an invitation to the White House, but will make those decisions, when and if necessary," the team said in a statement.
Unfortunately, the Warriors' clarifying statement came out only after Brown's tweet had spread like a virus. Journalist Twitter went wild with the allegation.
Newsrooms of all varieties published entire stories based on Brown's tweet, despite the fact that the CNBC journalist never actually provided any sources.
"Warriors unanimously decline White House visit, per reports," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in a headline.
The Daily Mail said, "NBA champion Golden State Warriors 'unanimously vote to decline invitation to White House in protest of President Trump."
"Warriors expected to skip White House visit as NBA champions: report," read a New York Daily News headline.
As of this writing, Brown's tweet has been shared on Twitter more than 30,000 times. He has not deleted it, and he personally has issued no corrections (though he did retweet a reporter who noted the Warriors had not received an invitation).
In fact, he has attempted to defend the tweet by posting a picture of another Twitter account alleging the Warriors had rejected a White House invite.
The account cited belongs to an unverified Twitter user named Mike Sington, a self-proclaimed "Movie/TV Studio Executive, Hollywood Insider, Entertainment and Pop Culture Expert."
Solid sourcing there, fellas.
The obvious problem here is the spread of misinformation. That's always the biggest issue with these types of stories. However, on a more personal note, another problem with these hoax reports is that the journalists who spread them make it harder for the rest of us in the industry to do our jobs. We're supposed to be in the business of relaying facts, not rumor-mongering.
Bogus news cycles like the one started by Brown are professionally humiliating not just for the reporters who get caught up in them, but also for the news industry as a whole.
The number of people who distrust the press is at an all-time high, according to Gallup. People trust the news media less than they trust Congress. Let's not make things harder by further eroding public trust by spreading thinly sourced trash we find online.
Applying scrutiny is not only the most basic requirement of the job, but it can also go a long way towards restoring trust.
Be a part of the solution.