Misinformation runs rampant in the era of President Trump, and there's basically nothing you can do about it.
The usual camps hear only what they want to hear, and no amount of explanation or evidence will convince them otherwise.
It starts normally with a claim that appears to be mostly accurate. That claim is then distilled, distorted, twisted and misrepresented into oblivion by media pundits, politicos and activists. It's like a giant game of Telephone, and the end result is a permanently entrenched bogus narrative.
An allegation can go from containing a kernel of truth to being both totally unrecognizable and false, and it is damn near impossible to undo the damage done along the way.
The White House does this. The so-called resistance does this. Not to sound cliché, but there are no innocent parties here; both sides indulge their supporters with partisan misinformation.
The latest example of such an occurrence comes after the Hill published a report this weekend claiming former FBI director James Comey may have included classified information in the memos he wrote after his meetings with President Trump.
To be clear, the Hill report, titled "Comey's private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material," does not appear to be outright false, though the headline does oversell what the report actually says.
No, this particular news cycle went off the rails after Fox News aggregated the Hill's original reporting. The slavishly pro-Trump "Fox and Friends" crew bungled the story badly Monday morning when they claimed the Hill report said things it didn't actually say.
"It turns out, [Comey] may actually have broken the rules. A brand-new bombshell report accuses Comey of putting our national security at risk," one host said, adding, "According to The Hill, the former FBI director's personal memos detailing private conversations with President Trump contained top secret information."
The show's official Twitter account followed-up later with this note on social media: "Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information."
This is not true.
The Hill report never stated Comey leaked "top secret" information to an associate. There's also no indication the Trump administration even classified the Comey memos as "top secret."
The Hill only went so far as to suggest that it's possible Comey may have maybe leaked something classified. It all depends, really, on which memos were leaked, and whether they were classified at the time of leaking. The Hill doesn't commit to answering these questions, and its report is carefully worded for a reason.
These nuances were apparently lost on the White House Monday morning.
Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Trump, promoted the "Fox and Friends" version of the report by referring to it as the real "bombshell" of the day.
That wasn't the worst of it. The worst came when the president's Twitter account sent the following note: "James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!"
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
This narrative is being shared now by the president's supporters, even though there's nothing to back his tweet, which came shortly after the "Fox and Friends" segment.
We can try our best to correct the record here, but it's likely too late. Attempts to counter this narrative will probably prove 100 percent futile now that this particular version of the Hill's report is in the country's bloodstream. Short of a miracle, Fox News' inaccurate reading of the Comey memo story is here to stay.
We now have a permanent piece of bogus information, and there's basically nothing that can be done about it.