Fake out: Prominent journalists uncritically retweet fake Rex Tillerson Twitter account

Fake out: Prominent journalists uncritically retweet fake Rex Tillerson Twitter account
Rex Tillerson (Image: YouTube screen grab via Texas BBA)

New York Times energy reporter Clifford Krauss thought he had President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of sate pick on the ropes when he retweeted what he thought was ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s Twitter account.

It wasn’t.

Krauss went after a fake Tillerson Twitter account that was apparently created Saturday — the day before he retweeted it. Krauss went after Tillerson for tweeting “he is a patriot,” but other journalists on Twitter quickly questioned the legitimacy of the fake Tillerson account.


Krauss, to his credit, eventually admitted he may have retweeted a fake account, but argued the “tweets didn’t seem fake.”

But Krauss wasn’t alone. At least two other prominent journalists went after the fake Tillerson account. Twitter suspended the account, but not before it fooled some journalists.

Dan Fagin, a New York University journalism professor who won the Pulitzer Prize, poked fun at the fake Tillerson account for supposedly following Russian President Vladimir Putin — media reports have highlighted Tillerson’s allegedly close ties with Putin’s regime.


Fagin doubled down when he was told the fake Tillerson account unfollowed Putin after being chastised for it over Twitter. Fagin eventually realized, however, the account was fake.

Michelle Celarier, who writes on “money & power” for New York Magazine and Fortune, also highlighted the fake Tillerson account, saying “I dont think it’s just ‘twitter trolls’ who’ve said this, but whatever…”.

She was even in disbelief when a fellow Twitter user told her she was retweeting a fake account. She said “it appears real. No one has asked it be called parody or be taken down?”


Trump is expected to officially name Tillerson as his pick to head the Department of State sometime this week, according to news reports. Tillerson has spent his entire career working for Exxon, first as an engineer and now as CEO.

Already, though Democrats are attacking the oil executive — not only for his career as an oil man, but also for his ties to Russia.

Democrats concerned about global warming and Republican defense hawks could band together to hinder Tillerson’s confirmation hearings or even block the nominee altogether.

“It is a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin,” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“And, obviously, they have done enormous deals together, that would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat,” McCain said.

This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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