White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington
White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington

White House 'planted fake news to smear reporter'

The White House has been accused of trying to smear a critical reporter by planting its own fake news.

Politico published an article on Sunday, by journalists Alex Isenstadt and Annie Karni, on an impromptu meeting called by press secretary Sean Spicer to examine aides' electronic devices for evidence of leaks.

The same article claimed Mr Spicer pushed deputy communications director Jessica Ditto to tears by criticising her work at a staff meeting.

But Mr Spicer, in referencing the Navy Seal killed in Yemen last month, said: "The only time Jessica recalls almost getting emotional is when we had to relay the information on the death of Chief Ryan Owens."

The father of the same Seal refused to meet Donald Trump and wants an investigation into the botched operation.

Six and a half hours after the Politico report broke, the Washington Examiner published a story about Mr Isenstadt.

It quoted an anonymous source as saying that Isenstadt "appeared dismissive and laughed" at Mr Spicer's denial and reference to Mr Owens.

"He started laughing about that Seal," said The Examiner's "informed official" source.

Politico editor Carrie Budoff Brown accused the White House of anonymously planting a fake story to smear its reporter.

Donald Trump said last week that anonymous sources should be banned.

The 70-year-old billionaire businessman once used unnamed sources to make repeated false claims about Barack Obama.

The Independent has contacted the White House, Politico and The Examiner for further comment.


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