President Trump on Monday seized on a New York University professor’s false tweet as an example of journalistic malpractice while calling for the U.S. to modify its libel laws to hold news media accountable.
In his early morning tweet while on an overseas trip to Japan, the president said a fake quote attributed to him by Ian Bremmer shows “what’s going on in the age of Fake News.”
“People think they can say anything and get away with it,” Trump wrote. “Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!”
Bremmer, who is the president and founder of Eurasia Group and a political science professor at NYU, got into trouble Sunday for tweeting a fake quote attributed to Trump.
“Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden,” Bremmer wrote in the now-deleted tweet, attributing it to Trump.
North Korea has labeled Biden a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being” after the U.S. presidential hopeful recently called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a tyrant during a recent speech.
Bremmer later reportedly responded in a now-deleted tweet: “This is objectively a completely ludicrous quote. And yet kinda plausible. Especially on twitter, where people automatically support whatever political position they have. That's the point.”
On Monday, Bremmer issued an apology via Twitter, saying the quote was meant "in jest."
"My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest," he wrote. "The President correctly quoted me as saying it was a 'completely ludicrous' statement. I should have been clearer. My apologies."
Before his apology on Monday, Bremmer was called out on Twitter by many notables.
Canadian journalist Daniel Dale tweeted: “This quote is fabricated. As often, no idea what Bremmer is doing.”
Geopolitics analyst Ankit Panda tweeted: “This is not a real Trump quote … If you’re basing your views of reality based on Ian Bremmer’s tweets in 2019, please reconsider.”
Trump has said in the past that he intended on taking a “strong look at our country’s libel laws.”
Brian Hauss, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement January that Trump’s threat lacks teeth.
“There is no federal libel law, and the president does not have the authority to change state libel laws,” he said, adding that the “First Amendment provides strong protections against libel liability, particularly with respect to statements about public figures or matters of public concern.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report