The Washington Post is distancing itself from PropOrNot, an anti-Russian propaganda organization with anonymous members, after citing it in a story last month detailing how Russia may have influenced the election through a carefully executed operation to spread fake news to American voters.
The newspaper added a lengthy editors note to the Nov. 24 story, headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” explaining the Post “does not itself vouch for the validity” of the organizations findings.
The original story, written by Craig Timberg, cited PropOrNot’s report identifying more than 200 websites that may have knowingly or unknowingly shared fake news. In wake of many sites listed challenging PropOrNot’s methodology and conclusions, the Post decided to update the article with a note to readers.
“A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list,” the note reads.
Made-up news has been such a problem across the media landscape that Media Matters, a liberal media-watchdog organization known for its fixation on Fox News, recently announced that fake news will now be its prime target.
“There was a period of time which we were, rightfully so, described as the ‘Fox antagonist’s,” incoming Media Matters president Angelo Carusone told Politico. “Now, our mission is to be principally focused on the value of journalism.”
Preventing the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories on social media platforms such as Twitter is a top priority in the media industry, and some Democrats believe the issue helped Donald Trump win the election.