OK, Facebook. Do your stuff. Sic your legions of fact checkers on a story put out by ThinkProgress, the “journalistic” arm of the Center for American Progress (CAP), which fancifully calls itself a “public policy research” organization.
If you’re not familiar with CAP, check out the headlines here or here. The second link will take you to articles on Neera Tanden, the current president of the outfit and — until recently — adviser to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. You’ll also recognize the name of CAP’s first president, John Podesta, erstwhile chairman of Team Clinton.
The headline of the ThinkProgress hit piece is “Under political pressure, Kuwait cancels major event at Four Seasons, switches to Trump’s D.C. hotel.” Here’s the lede:
The Embassy of Kuwait
allegedly[see update below] cancelled a contract with a Washington, D.C. hotel days after the presidential election, citing political pressure to hold its National Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel instead.
And what’s the source of this juicy tidbit? Just that: a “source … who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy.”
If a direct pipeline to the far-Left ThinkProgress is not enough to persuade you of the authenticity of this account, the author (and editor) Judd Legum tells us he was “able to review documentary evidence confirming” it.
The First Secretary of the Embassy of Kuwait, contacted for the story, would neither “confirm or [sic] deny” the information, and a sales and marketing official with the Trump hotel declined to comment.
If the story seems shaky, it becomes a quivering bowl of Jell-O when Legum tries to build a case that a pattern of coercion is emerging. He provides a photocopy of an invitation to an event at the Trump hotel by the Kingdom of Bahrain with a link to a story from Politico. But all the Politico story says is that this development raises ethical concerns. It says nothing about pressure having been brought to bear.
So how persuasive a story is this? Persuasive enough that The Hill (which swings both ways, ideologically speaking) repeated it.
But does it pass the smell test in this new era of widespread “fake news” dissemination? It’s too soon to say. The story just came out late yesterday afternoon. A search for the key elements in the headline turn up a story from last month’s Washington Post titled “For foreign diplomats, Trump hotel is place to be,” but that doesn’t really help ThinkProgress make its case.
It will be interessting to see how Snopes, one of Facebook’s new truth police forces, treats the account. In the end, I for one will be very surprised if this report turns out to be accurate even in part.
*UPDATE* ThinkProgress provided an updated approximately 15 minutes ago so as “to reflect the comments of Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah.” The article now reports that that al-Sabah confirmed by telephone that the venue of the Kuwait’s National Day event will indeed be held at the Trump International Hotel. It goes on to state:
Al-Sabah also acknowledged that, prior to the election, the event was scheduled at the Four Seasons, an arrangement he described as a “save the date,” rather than a contract.
Al-Sabah denied that he received pressure to move the event or discussed the event with the Trump Organization. He said he moved the event because the Trump Hotel is a new venue and “why not”?
Sounds like pretty weak tea to me.