That blue checkmark on verified Twitter accounts is there for a reason.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and The New York Times learned that lesson the hard way Tuesday when all three were fooled into quoting a fake Twitter account.
The mixup arose after the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who left the White House on Monday night after revelations that he misled Vice President Pence about a December phone call Flynn had with a Russian official. Early Tuesday morning, the account @GenMikeFlynn seemingly shared the retired lieutenant general’s thoughts on his ouster.
“While I accept full responsibility for my actions, I feel it is unfair that I have been made the sole scapegoat for what happened.
But if a scapegoat is what’s needed for this administration to continue to take this great nation forward,
I am proud to do my duty,” the account tweeted in a pair of messages.
During a Tuesday news conference, Pelosi and Cummings used the tweets to support their case for congressional hearings on the Flynn matter.
“Madam Leader, just this morning, Flynn tweeted, and this is a quote, ‘scapegoat,’ end of quote. Scapegoat. He basically described himself as a scapegoat,” said Cummings, D-Md.
Pelosi, D-Calif., added: “I have a tweet, I’m going to make, I’m telling my staff right now – it’s not scapegoat, it’s stonewall. And that’s exactly what the Republicans in Congress are doing.”
Just one problem, of course: the account has nothing to do with the real Flynn, who uses the verified handle @GenFlynn. Flynn had not tweeted from his official account since December but appeared to be back online later Tuesday after the flap over the fake account.
Both Pelosi and Cummings later acknowledged the error.
The New York Times had also used the tweets in its story on Flynn’s resignation. The paper issued an online correction at the bottom of its report after discovering the error.
“Also, because of an editing error, an earlier version quoted three posts from an unverified Twitter account purporting to be Mr. Flynn’s, responding to the resignation,” the correction said.
Twitter users immediately lambasted the trio, with even the fake Flynn account chiming in: “The failing @nytimes, @NancyPelosi & @RepCummings issued statements based on 100% FAKE news. We expect more from our media & politicians!”
— Not Michael Flynn (@GenMikeFlynn) February 14, 2017