After the recent shooting at a Florida high school, a great deal of questionable stories were spread about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. Some sites reported that he was affiliated with the Antifa movement, others have shared photos of an Instagram account alleged to have belonged to Cruz (a story which has been all but confirmed, at the very least). The amount of misinformation put forward when a previously-unknown individual makes headlines almost requires explicit confirmation before a story is to be regarded as fact.
Nowhere is that more evident than the case of Jordan Jereb and Cruz’s alleged links to white supremacist movements in Florida. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Associated Press (AP) first reported that Cruz was linked to the Republic of Florida group the day after the Florida massacre.
The story quickly spread, and pretty soon it was picked up by every possible news outlet, liberal and conservative alike. The Drudge Report even made it their headline, with an accompanying image of Cruz:
One would think that the ADL and AP had some iron-clad sources to run with this story. And unless one considers 4chan and a Discord server to be iron-clad, one would be sorely mistaken.
The ADL and AP initially only stated that “Jordan Jereb” was their source. It seems geography is not the mainstream media’s strong suit, as the Republic of Florida is based in Tallahassee, nowhere close to Cruz’s Broward County residence. All it took was a phone conversation with someone claiming to be Jereb for this story to take hold all across the internet, courtesy of the ADL and AP.
So, who led the ADL and AP to Jereb? None other than 4chan, with help from a Discord server that likes to play pranks on Jereb…
…which was then “confirmed” by a bunch of Twitter accounts linked on 4chan, and with a phone call to an apparently sleep-deprived Jereb:
By the time Jereb stated that the entire story was a “misunderstanding”, it was far too late. Cruz was officially a white supremacist, and the story remains on the ADL’s Twitter timeline, without any corresponding tweet that the story was a hoax.
Law enforcement officials in Florida subsequently confirmed that they had found no connection between Cruz and the white supremacist group.
In their eagerness to pin the horrific massacre on far-right “white supremacists” (which could then be extrapolated out to demonize all conservatives for the shooting), the media ran with the story despite having no independent confirmation whatsoever.
Almost 24 hours after it was confirmed that the original story about Cruz being a member of a white supremacist group was fake news, the AP, the ADL and others have failed to remove tweets and news stories that are completely erroneous.
The story was originally broken by Microchip, who took to Twitter to explain the importance of Cruz being classified as a white supremacist (note: screenshots have been taken of Microchip’s tweets, as it is likely a matter of time until his account is removed):
The irony of the ADL attempting to combat “fake news” yet promoting their own version of it is revolting. It is even worse when you consider the fact that it appears Jereb was obviously conned by the organization into providing an inaccurate statement. Keep this in the back of your mind the next time any liberal organization attempts to label all conservatives as a domestic terror organization.
There are far too many sad stories emerging from the Florida tragedy, and the facts surrounding the incident are still emerging. Media outlets rushing to judgment have only succeeded in formenting hatred and scorn for anyone who dares to oppose the “mainstream” (read: anti-Trump) view.
No amount of retractions can undo the damage already done to some of the victims… assuming there are any retractions at all. While there is likely no love lost for Jereb, the victims of Cruz’s horrific crimes deserve no such foul treatment. However, this seems to be the sad state of American politics today – rush to judgment first, without any regard to confirming facts.