Could it really be the case that the president of the United States is regurgitating some baseless crap that someone made up on Facebook? NBC News has pointed out that President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory that he shared during a Fox News interview Monday night is very, very similar to a debunked viral Facebook post. In the wild interview, Trump claimed that “we had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” He refused an invitation to say more about the claim, saying the matter is “under investigation right now.” Back in June, a post went viral on Facebook claiming: “At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black... Be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas.” It also claimed one passenger had “a tattoo that said ‘Antifa America’ on his arm.” The post was comprehensively debunked at the time—but perhaps that was after it caught the attention of the White House.
Asked about the bizarre story again on Tuesday morning, Trump doubled down. “A person was on a plane, said there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, rioters, people looking for trouble,” Trump told reporters. The person, who was on the plane “going from Washington to wherever” felt “very uncomfortable,” he added. Trump said he would try to put reporters in touch with the person. “Maybe they’ll speak to you, maybe they won’t.”