Donald Trump has without a doubt become one of the most prominent purveyors of ‘fake news’ in the world.
He’s right up there with Russian Twitter bots, Reddit 9/11 “truther” conspiracy theory threads and the Sunday Sport. (Although, to be fair, the Sunday Sport is properly hilarious – see below).
In the first year of his presidency alone, Trump’s White House has spawned the Orwellian-sounding phrase “alternative facts,” spread transparently untrue lies about the size of his presidential inauguration crowd and even claimed Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote during the 2016 election due to voter fraud. (This is not true by the way – Trump actually lost the popular vote by around 3 million ballots).
He also famously retweeted misleading anti-Muslim videos from Britain First - and we’ve seen how this ‘fake news’ trend has been used to undermine legitimate news stories like CNN’s report on the Libyan slave trade.
To put it simply, Trump is a perpetual liar.
And now, the Pope has taken Trump to task with a very shade subtweet. Pope Francis said on Twitter this morning: “There is no such thing as harmless disinformation; trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.”
Twitter users quickly judged that even though he’s not directly mentioned, the Pontifex was in fact talking about Donald Trump.
Tom Dallessio replied: “Are you listening @realDonaldTrump?”
Jon Dore added: “Classic.”
The Pope developed his thoughts on ‘fake news’ in a document called “The truth will set you free - fake news and journalism for peace,” which was released today in advance of the Catholic Church’s World Day of Social Communications on May 13.
According to Reuters, Pope Francis condemned ‘fake news’ as satanic, saying journalists and social media users should shun and unmask manipulative “snake tactics” that foment division to serve political and economic interests.
“Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth,” Francis said in the document.
Now, it must be said that the Catholic Church doesn’t exactly have the strongest relationship with the truth – especially when it comes to the decades of covering up sexual abuse in their religious organisation. But we’re definitely on board with any world leader who calls out Trump on his bullshit. Good work Popey!
And while you’re here, please enjoy one of the greatest Pope-related clips of all time – courtesy of Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe:
(Images: David Everett Strickler / Rex)