Daily Beast blames ‘white supremacists’ for Quebec mosque shooting, then retracts

The awful shooting that killed 6 people and injured 8 others has been characterized as “an act of terrorism” by the Canadian government.  But despite the arrest of two suspected perpetrators, no names or identifying characteristics have been released.  In the resulting information vacuum, waves of narrative-confirming speculation as to who is responsible for this atrocity have washed over people who ought to know better.

At this point, the most conspicuous example of political posturing from ignorance so far is the face plant the Daily Beast executed yesterday.  Scott Greer of the Daily Caller explains:

The Daily Beast wrongfully accused two fictitious white supremacists as the prime suspects in the Quebec City mosque shooting Sunday night after falling for a bogus Reuters Twitter account.

Late Sunday night, an unverified account pretending to be Reuters tweeted, “Authorities have identified the suspects in #Quebec City shooting as white supremacists David M.J. Aurine and Mathieu Fournier.”

Notice that the name on the tweet is “Reuter,” not “Reuters.”  How careless does one have to be to not notice this obvious evidence of a fake news operation?  This is a perfect example of a story that is “too good to check,” as the old (but suddenly relevant) journalists’ joke has it.  In the eagerness to confirm a narrative that would indirectly blame President Trump for an outbreak of anti-Islam violence in the wake of his seven-country entry pause, evidently, no one at The Daily Beast noticed.  Actually investigating whether this was true, or whether Reuters has reported it anywhere else, was a bridge too far for the Beasts who publish daily “news” (including fake news). 

The Beast wrote:

It is certainly possible that racists attacked the mosque, but it is far from unthinkable that other motives have been at work, including schisms among Muslims themselves.

Until the Canadian authorities decide to break their silence, there is no point on speculating.  The great irony here, as Greer points out, is that:

... [t]he Daily Beast is a frequent critic of the “fake news” phenomenon and has published several articles denouncing fabricated stories as a threat to American democracy.

I am not familiar with Canadian or Quebec laws on libel, but it strikes me that the sheer obviousness of the fakery may hand a large judgment to the three men named, if they even are real people.