Ian Bremmer, an NYU academic and columnist for ‘Time,’ apologized on Monday morning for posting a fabricated quote he attributed to President Trump.
“My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest,” Bremmer tweeted on Monday morning.
“The President correctly quoted me as saying it was a ‘completely ludicrous’ statement. I should have been clearer. My apologies,” he added.
My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest. The President correctly quoted me as saying it was a “completely ludicrous” statement. I should have been clearer. My apologies.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 27, 2019
Bremmer, who deleted the fabrication after initially defending it as “plausible,” had quoted President Trump as saying “Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden.”
Bremmer’s Monday morning apology came on the heels of a scathing rebuke from President Trump.
“.@ianbremmer now admits that he MADE UP ‘a completely ludicrous quote,’ attributing it to me. This is what’s going on in the age of Fake News. People think they can say anything and get away with it. Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!” President Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
.@ianbremmer now admits that he MADE UP “a completely ludicrous quote,” attributing it to me. This is what’s going on in the age of Fake News. People think they can say anything and get away with it. Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2019
The bar for public figures to successfully bring a case for libel is higher than that for the typical private citizen, as NOLO, explains. In addition to proving all of the elements for defamation (i.e., statement was published, false, injurious, and unprivileged), public figures must also prove that the individual made the statement with “actual malice.”
Bremmer failed to provide corroboration for the false quote for hours after he issued it, eventually relenting and tweeting that his ostensible goal with the fake quote was to demonstrate the “shameful state of the Twitterverse today.”
After he removed the tweet along with his own responses related to it, NYU’s 2017-2018 “Clinical Professor of Political Risk” posted a number of unrelated tweets which did not include a mention of a fabricated one.
Not until multiple news reports and direct criticism from the President did Bremmer provide an apology.
Notably, Bremmer’s initial defense of his intentionally false quote was itself duplicitous. In a single tweet, he calls his statement both “objectively a completely ludicrous quote” and “kinda plausible.”
He then claimed that his point all along was to dupe the news-consuming public by fabricating a statement written in such a way that “we reasonably suspect [T]rump was thinking it.”
In other words, by his own admission, Bremmer’s intent was to deceive, and he used his verified Twitter account to carry that out.
Bremmer’s Twitter bio reads, in part, “political scientist, author, prof at nyu, columnist at time, president @eurasiagroup, @gzeromedia.”
A reader of tweets from such an account would reasonably presume such a person would refrain from clothing fiction as fact, and surely would not deign to using the “shameful state of the Twitterverse” to make some sort of twisted statement about his own superiority.
Understandably, many denizens of the Twitterverse were skeptical about the genuineness of Bremmer’s day-late-and-a-dollar-short apology.
Forced apologies never ring true. Perhaps it is high time we, as a culture, stop demanding them.