A Half-Real Fake News Scoop About Wikileaks and JFK

Mar 11, 2017 by

News & Politics

The “Conservative Tribune” serves up a bogus story with a grain of truth.

Photo Credit: Conservative Tribune

The story “Wikileaks Vault 7 Password Is Nod to Anti-CIA JFK Quote,” from the Conservative Tribune, is making the rounds on social media.

More than 28,000 people like it, so it has the ring of truthiness, if not truth.

Vault 7 is a webpage created by the whistleblowing group Wikileaks to display the group’s recent headline-grabbing collection of purloined files about CIA hacking operations around the world.

The Conservative Tribune, an anonymous outfit that seems to be based in Anthem, Arizona, asserts that Wikileaks “posted to Twitter the following password for Vault 7: ‘SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds.'”

“That password was a subset of words spoken by President John F. Kennedy 54 years ago, only a month before he was assassinated,” according to the conservative news site.

The story is accurate—sort of.

The Real Story

President John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, did indeed speak of “splintering the CIA into a thousand pieces.” CT links to a real New York Times story.

But the Times story also shows that Kennedy did not utter those words a month before he was assassinated in November 1963.

In fact, JFK spoke of breaking up the CIA in the spring of 1961. The CIA’s attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba had failed spectacularly. Kennedy was furious with the agency, and briefly considered suggestions to abolish it.

More to the point: the Wikileaks Twitter feed makes no mention of a “JFK” password—at least none that I can find. That may be because you don’t need a password to get into the Wikileaks Vault 7.

So the JFK quote was real. The password was more fictional than factual. And the combination of the two attracted the attention of many thousands of eyeballs and generated considerable ad revenue for the right-wing site.

The dubious story of the Vault 7 JFK “password” exemplifies one of the higher art forms in the age of Trump: fake news with a grain of truth.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of  JFK and CIA: The Secret Assassination Files (Kindle) and Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.

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