This morning, Trump got on Twitter (you know this doesn’t end good, right?) and tweeted this:
P.S. (although it really is another story unto itself) Trump sent out this tweet 20 minutes after this story – a Chicago Tribune story where the Boeing CEO criticized Trump — first appeared.
And what happened?
A 137-character tweet from President-elect Donald Trump could be costing Boeing Co. shareholders more than $550 million, as Wall Street got a firsthand look at how easily an incoming commander in chief can move markets.
Boeing’s stock was down 86 cents, or 0.6%, in midday trade, paring an earlier loss of as much as 1.4%. Based on 647.9 million shares outstanding as of Sept. 30, according to the aerospace giant’s third-quarter report, that implies about $557.2 million was lopped off Boeing’s market capitalization.
Trump tweeted that an order for Boeing to build a new Air Force One should be canceled because costs had risen to over $4 billion, which would be well more than double earlier budget estimates.
Trump didn’t just tweet about the order. He told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower, where he works and lives, that the building of the plane was “totally out of control,” as costs were spiraling, according to ABC News.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number,” Trump said. “We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
Such is the power of inaccurate information. The $4 billion figure, by the way, is totally fictional. Nobody knows where Trump got that number from.
“We are currently under contract for $170 million to determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States,” Boeing said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
Boeing had secured the contract in January to start work on the 747-8 jumbo jets that would replace the planes used as Air Force One beginning early next decade. Although the Pentagon didn’t disclose the expected cost of the two new planes, earlier budget estimates put the cost at more than $1.6 billion.
But that didn’t stop the plunge.
And this is what happened — in an instant — when false information was spread.
But it is not just markets, it’s lives. Literal lives.
Let’s talk about fake news. For several months, there has been a “scandal” brewing that barely deserves mentioning, except for the fact that it is a prime example of what can happen when fake news is circulated and believed. (Actually, the election of Trump is also a great example of the consequences of fake news, but there were other factors involved there).
The scandal is called “Pizzagate” and boils down to this: Bill and Hillary Clinton were – and still are — operating a child prostitution ring out of the basement of a pizzeria in Washington DC.
Yeah, I know. I know. Common sense alone would make you reject this one out of hand, but we live in post-truth times now. And lots of people still believe it. Like this guy:
Harmless? Nope. The tweet above is from Michael Flynn, Jr., son of General Michael Flynn Sr., who Trump recently appointed as his national security adviser. The senior Flynn is no novice when it comes to tweeting fake news himself, like this one relating to spirit cooking (a sort of forerunner of the pizzagate scandal):
General Flynn is also the author of other troubling tweets:
So we have a national security adviser and his son (a son who, until recently was on the Trump transition team) who are re-tweeting fake news about a fake scandal. Given the clout these guys have, plus the fact that some morons will believe anything they hear on the Internet, THIS is what happens:
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)
Edgar Maddison Welch allegedly believed he was liberating “child sex slaves” kept in the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant when he entered the building with two guns on Sunday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint released Monday, the North Carolina man told police that he “had read online” that Comet Ping Pong was the center of a child trafficking ring and “that he wanted to see for himself if they were there.” Welch had brought along an AR-15 assault rifle and a .38 caliber handgun to “help rescue them,” he allegedly told police.
He now faces several gun-related charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and openly carrying a weapon without a license. The Washington Post reported that D.C. Magistrate Judge Joseph E. Beshouri on Monday ordered Welch to remain in jail until his next hearing on Thursday after U.S. Attorney Sonali Patel cautioned he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Friends of Welch, a periodically employed father of two young girls, told the Post that they were surprised that he became so personally invested in investigating an online conspiracy theory that holds that Democratic Party operatives are running a pedophilia and human trafficking ring from the Comet restaurant. The fabricated story, known as “Pizzagate” and targeted at Hillary Clinton and her allies, was ignited by fringe social media users. It was then heavily circulated by fake news publications and conspiracy sites.
Comet Ping Pong’s owners have received a steady stream of death threats and harassing phone calls since the bizarre tale began circulating online in late October. Other establishments on Connecticut Avenue, a popular shopping street in Northwest D.C., have also been targeted by protesters and threatening phone calls.
Welch did not elaborate further on his motive in the courtroom on Monday, according to the Post, saying only his name when asked to identify himself.
He surrendered to law enforcement gathered outside the restaurant after he “found no evidence that underage children were being harbored” inside.
Fortunately, no guns were fired and nobody was killed. But it does make you wonder how long it will be before people die because of fake news.