WaPo Contributor Takes Jeff Sessions Out of Context, Spreads Fake News

Settle down there, buddy. Those knee-jerk reactions can hurt!

Tufts University professor of international politics and Washington Post contributor Daniel W. Drezner has issued an apology for his complete overreaction to a quote by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he took way out of context and ranted about on Twitter. (And folks wonder where fake news comes from.)

On Tuesday, Drezner came across a tweet in his feed that linked to a Wall Street Journal article about Sessions’ speech on illegal immigration at the Arizona border yesterday. The tweet quoted the attorney general: “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

That last word, and a “quick scan” of the article, was all Drezner needed to conclude that Sessions was calling illegal immigrants “filth:”

I’m not going to lie, seeing the word “filth” used to seemingly describe illegal immigrants brought me up short. It’s pretty potent language for an attorney general to use to describe fellow human beings. I quickly scanned the linked Wall Street Journal story…

And then he tweeted:

Drezner explains why he assumed this to be the case in his latest column: “This seemed like a typical Sessions tactic of using absurd language to talk about the entire category of illegal immigrants, a category he really dislikes.”

Here are some of Drezner’s other feelings about Sessions:

I didn’t like him when he was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump. I didn’t like him during the campaign when he dismissed divergent views as “soulless globalism.” And I really don’t like him bringing back the 1980s War on Drugs sentencing or putting a halt to forensic science reform.

It’s easy to see why Drezner’s trigger is so short with Sessions. Why go through all the trouble of vetting a source, or better yet, your personal feelings, before sharing your hatred online with the entire world?

But it was too late; Drezner’s tweet had already gone viral and he was forced to admit, “I was wrong about Jeff Sessions.” He looked back through Sessions’ prepared remarks and realized:

The context is clear: Sessions was going to use “filth” to describe MS-13 and drug cartels, not all illegal immigrants crossing the border. One might think, like I do, that the language is hyperbolic, but in context it did not imply what I thought it implied in my tweet.

Here’s the best part: while “filth” was in Sessions’ prepared remarks, the attorney general didn’t actually utter the word in his speech. He only said, “It is here, on this sliver of land, on this border, where we first take our stand.”

Double ouch.

“So, full stop, I was wrong, and I apologize to the attorney general for making this mistake,” Drezner wrote. “I wish I had caught the error in time to delete the tweet before it went viral. Alas, I did not. Deleting it now seems like I’d be trying to erase my mistake. I did respond with a follow-up tweet, but that is insufficient given all the attention this received.”

That’s very irresponsible for a WaPo contributor, whose knee-jerk liberal reaction was to slander the sitting attorney general -- someone he admittedly dislikes -- over something he didn’t even say that spread like wildfire over the Internet. It was big enough that Snopes added the lie as an entry on its website, which was probably hard with all the liberals running the show over there.

A tough lesson in fake news, indeed.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA