Was White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer the victim of fake news by a weed blog?
Keep in mind everyone involved here (minus Spicer) spends their days engulfed in the fumes of marijuana news.
MassRoots, an organization that supports the legalization of cannabis, unearthed reports on The Joint Blog and other media outlets insisting that President Trump‘s administration likely won’t go after state cannabis laws.
“I have no clue where that report came from,” Spicer told MassRoots’ political correspondent Tom Angell.
WHAT? IS SPICER HIGH? WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?
Actually no. It’s not likely that Spicer is high. What’s baffling though is what MassRoots learned in its reporting: At a time when Trump is accusing outlets like CNN and BuzzFeed of being “fake news,” and the entire media of being “dishonest,” Joint Blog invented the name of the reporter who allegedly spoke with Spicer.
They called her “Rebecka Brian.” But get this…she doesn’t exist.
Joint Blog doesn’t appear to have a great track record. The pub had another report that said it had talked to a former student of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch at the University of Colorado — except again, the student — “Michael Bli” — doesn’t exist. Nonetheless “Bli” reported that Gorsuch favors letting states legalize cannabis with no federal interference.
Which is a big deal considering the industry is on pins and needles waiting to see what will happen next. In 2013, then-President Obama‘s DOJ issued a memo explaining how states can bypass federal interference in their laws. Trump promised to respect state laws on his campaign trail.
Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has notoriously been anti-marijuana. But Spicer has said publicly that if you work for Trump, you are backing his agenda, not yours.
“DOJ could move against the states themselves and try to argue that their laws are preempted by the Controlled Substances Act, though it’d probably be more likely they’d just go after businesses and individuals who are operating in accordance with those laws,” Angell explained. “That’s IF there is a crackdown, which I’m personally betting against. But no one really knows!”
Here’s where things get especially weird.
MassRoots’ inquiry prompted The Joint Blog‘s editor, Anthony Martinelli, to admit that both of his aforementioned reporters used fake names:
“In response to questions about its reports, Joint Blog Editor-in-Chief Anthony Martinelli said that the reason no evidence seems to exist for the Colorado student or his D.C. correspondent being real is that the site agreed to use pseudonyms for both,” reported MassRoots.
Martinelli told MassRoots that “Rebecka Brian” has a day job and feared repercussions for reporting for The Joint Blog.
Hence “her” fabricated name.
Martinelli said Spicer was lying or didn’t remember talking to his fake-named reporter. (He also said he’d look into the matter.)
“This highlights how lack of media literacy is a real problem — among both everyday readers and sometimes among journalists themselves,” Angell told The Mirror. “I know that we’re all rushing to read and react to so many news developments coming across our radars every day, but when something seems too good or crazy to be true and it’s from a questionable source, people really should take a few minutes to investigate a bit before passing along links and potentially damaging their own credibility.”
At least two marijuana journalists reported The Joint Blog’s news involving Gorsuch. They include David Downs, the cannabis editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mona Zhang, a freelancer who published the news in Freedom Leaf.
Shockingly, Joint Blog editor Martinelli did not inform his readers that the reporter and the student had gone by fake names until MassRoots confronted him.
It’s still not clear if Spicer had too many spices the day he spoke to The Joint Blog‘s fake-named reporter or if he never spoke to her at all.
Angell said he doesn’t know what to believe.
“I was actually expecting that Martinelli might contact me after seeing my piece, but I haven’t heard anything,” he told The Mirror by email. “I might reach out in a few days to see if he has anything new to say.”