President Donald Trump was spending Thanksgiving “tweeting” and “golfing,” Newsweek claimed. But Trump was actually in Afghanistan visiting troops, a visit that went undetected by most of the press until after he touched down in the country.
Newsweek reporter Jessica Kwong later updated the story but did not apologize for the error or issue a correction. A Newsweek spokesperson later said that Kwong was terminated.
The story was initially headlined: “How is Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing, and More.”
The story said Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, citing his public schedule.
The story was later updated after news broke Trump was visiting troops in the Middle East. The updated headline reads: “How Did Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing—And Surprising U.S. Troops in Afghanistan.”
Trump headed to Afghanistan to surprise U.S. troops on Thanksgiving https://t.co/f7Xeqz1ZGQ Deleting this tweet because it was written before knowing about the presidents surprise visit to Afghanistan-an honest mistake. Story has already been updated, as shown in the screenshot. pic.twitter.com/g9CfPaV2kQ
— Jessica Kwong (@JessicaGKwong) November 29, 2019
There was no evidence that Trump golfed at all on Thanksgiving. The tweets were pre-scheduled by White House staff.
The story did not contain a correction or an apology. Instead, at the bottom, Newsweek stated: “This story has been substantially updated and edited at 6:17 pm EST to reflect the presidents surprise trip to Afghanistan.”
Kwong deleted a tweet sharing the initial story, sharing a screenshot of the tweet.
“Deleting this tweet because it was written before knowing about the presidents surprise visit to Afghanistan-an honest mistake. Story has already been updated, as shown in the screenshot,” she wrote. Her pinned tweet, or a highlighted post on top of her Twitter page, is about celebrities joining an impeachment task force.
Both Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. commented on what happened.
I thought Newsweek was out of business? https://t.co/3ro4eSJloo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2019
“Fake news gonna fake!” Trump Jr. wrote.
“I thought Newsweek was out of business?” Trump added.
The White House went to great lengths to make sure news of the trip didnt break until after Trump landed in Afghanistan. Some reporters traveled on Air Force One but were under embargo.
“Cell phones, hotspots and other devices emitting a signal were confiscated from everyone traveling on Air Force One before we boarded,” a pool reporter said. “The White House arranged in advance for POTUS Twitter account to remain active during his travel.”
Trump secretly flew from Florida to Andrews Air Force Base late Wednesday. Another Air Force One remains at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.