Reporter Deletes Tweet After Falsely Saying Russian Spy Visited Trump in Oval Office
A senior political reporter for millennial-catering news website Mic.com was forced to delete a tweet that incorrectly stated that alleged Russian spy Maria Butina was photographed with President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office.
“I thought this was a photoshop, but it’s not. This is Maria Butina—arrested for being a Russian spy—in the Oval Office with Trump,” Emily Singer wrote in the now-deleted tweet on July 17. The photo was taken in 2017, showing Trump meeting with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
Media: There's no reason for anyone to hate us
Senior political reporter for Mic: Hold my beer pic.twitter.com/EXrAAExlTZ
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) July 17, 2018
She was then forced to remove the photo.
“OK all, this may be Cari Lutkins from the NSC. I may delete this tweet,” Singer then wrote. She added: “I’ve deleted the tweet. I cannot confirm that it is Butina and may be an NSC staffer.”
Later, Singer issued an apology.
“This morning I made a serious error in tweeting about a meeting in the Oval Office in 2017. The information was incorrect, and I deleted the tweet within an hour, as soon as I realized the mistake. I apologize for any confusion,” Singer wrote.
This morning I made a serious error in tweeting about a meeting in the Oval Office in 2017. The information was incorrect, and I deleted the tweet within an hour, as soon as I realized the mistake. I apologize for any confusion.
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) July 17, 2018
Other media outlets, including Fox News, said the woman in the photo is likely Lutkins, a National Security Council staffer.
Both Lutkins and Butina have red hair.
Символ города Йошкар-Ола – Йошкин Кот и я pic.twitter.com/RwRnyXrJrK
— Мария Бутина (@Maria_Butina) December 19, 2014
Singer was pilloried by other Twitter users as pushing “fake news,” and others asked why she didn’t fact check the claim before tweeting it out to her 20,000 followers.
“You are a senior political reporter. Do you not have a fact checker available to you?” asked one user.
Mic.com didn’t issue a public comment on the matter.
On the afternoon of July 16, the Department of Justice announced that it was charging Butina, 29, with spying for Russia within the United States.
“She undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law,” the DOJ said in a statement. Butina had entered the United States on a student visa, the DOJ stated.