This Week in Fake News: Homeland Security Disputes MSNBC Claim Russia Compromised Voter Registration

March 1, 2018 Updated: March 2, 2018

DHS Disputes MSNBC Claim Russia Compromised Voter Registration Systems

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rare rebuke in response to an MSNBC article claiming that “Russian-backed covert operatives” had breached state websites or voter registration systems in seven states ahead of the 2016 elections and that states had not been informed.

“NBC’s reporting tonight on the 2016 elections is not accurate and is actively undermining efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to work in close partnership with state and local governments to protect the nation’s election systems from foreign actors,” said DHS acting press secretary Tyler Houlton in a statement.

The MSNBC article relied on unnamed U.S. officials for its disputed article. Its own article also states that six of the seven states denied MSNBC’s allegations, based on their own cyber investigations.

The DHS is currently investigating the integrity of election systems nationwide.

Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson under the Obama administration previously said that there was no evidence that vote tallies were changed by Russia.

Media Still Praising Sister of North Korean Dictator

Several prominent media organizations continued to give the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un praise for her charm offensive at the Winter Olympics, after their initial glowing coverage of her appearance at the opening ceremony.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, plays a key role as director of propaganda and agitation in the communist regime that imprisons hundreds of thousands in labor camps and threatens to strike the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

After the closing ceremony of the Olympics, which was attended by President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, the Daily Beast wrote: “Ivanka Trump may be President Trump’s answer to the Olympics visit by Kim Jong Un’s younger sister—she certainly matched the North Korean in smiles and style—but which de facto ambassador won the charm offensive at the Winter Games?”

“The result might be a draw,” it continued.

Similarly, Newsweek wrote: “Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, captured hearts during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. She was dubbed North Korea’s Ivanka, stealing the spotlight from stern U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was under direct orders to shun the North’s propaganda campaign.”

Mike Pence responded to media criticism during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 21.

“For all of those in the media who think that I should have stood and cheered with the North Koreans, I say the United States of America doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships,” Pence said.

Newsweek Forced to Retract Story About Japanese Sites and Twitter Bots

Newsweek was forced to retract a story it published that claimed Japanese websites and Twitter bots were responsible for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Franken was forced to resign under pressure from congressional Democrats amid allegations of sexual misconduct and after an image of him groping a sleeping woman’s breasts surfaced. In his resignation announcement, Franken denied many of the allegations were true but said he decided it was best to step down.

The Newsweek article, with the headline, “How An Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken,” blamed his resignation on bots and conservatives promoting stories detailing the accusations against Franken.

“A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral—and then weaponized a liberal writer’s criticism of Franken,” Newsweek wrote in the article. Broadcaster Leeann Tweeden had accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her.

The only source for the claim, however, was a little-known website called Unhack the Vote.

“Newsweek was unable to independently verify their claims after a further review of their work,” the publication wrote in its retraction statement.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo Retweets Misleading Story, Then Defends It

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo retweeted a misleading article about a young man who claimed he was able to buy an AR-15 rifle with an expired ID.

Cuomo retweeted the two-year-old story titled “I was able to buy an AR-15 in five minutes — I’m 20 and my ID is expired.”

The article, published on The Tab, however, states that the 20-year-old never bought the rifle and never finished the paperwork to do so.

“After he walked me through the paperwork, all five pages of it, I told him I changed my mind and wanted to think more before I bought an AR-15,” the article reads.

The headline on the article was later changed by the publication.

After being called out on Twitter for tweeting the article, Cuomo doubled down on its content.

Charles Cooke, editor of National Review Online, stated on Twitter, “The point is that the kid lied about buying a gun that he didn’t, and that you are now lying too.”

Cuomo responded, “Lying? Look if you want to fight against background checks, make the case. Whether it is calling the kids actors or LYING about how no laws could stop the shootings…that is the bs to call out. 97% of people want better checks. Why fight that?”

The point of the criticism, however, was that someone claimed he was able to buy an AR-15 with an expired license, not to question background checks themselves.