Story about migrant kids getting copies of Veep’s book borders…

The conservative mediascape has been in an uproar for days over a New York Post report alleging that undocumented minors are being welcomed to the United States with copies of a children’s book authored by Vice President Kamala Harris.

A slew of prominent Republicans shared their outrage over the supposed giveaway of “Superheroes Are Everywhere” at migrant shelters after the story appeared on the New York tabloid’s front page Saturday. Even the White House press secretary was grilled about it.

And then on Tuesday, in a one-sentence note at the bottom of the original online article, the Post acknowledged that almost none of it was true.

“Editor’s note: The original version of this article said migrant kids were getting Harris’ book in a welcome kit, but has been updated to note that only one known copy of the book was given to a child,” it read in full.

In fact, it’s not even clear whether a child actually received that single copy of the book, which was photographed by Reuters on a vacant bed at a shelter in Long Beach, Calif., last week. It was one of many items, including toys and clothing, donated by residents in a citywide drive, Long Beach officials said. No government funds were used to purchase the items, according to city spokeswoman.

The Post originally reported on Friday that “unaccompanied migrant kids brought from the U.S.-Mexico border to a new shelter in Long Beach, Calif.,” would be given a copy of the book “in their welcome kits.” It attributed this claim to the Reuters photo, and spun it into an all-caps pun for the front page of its print edition: “KAM ON IN.”

A follow-up story by the tabloid on Monday reported that “thousands” of copies were being given to the children, and that White House press secretary Jen Psaki had “no answers” when asked whether Harris was profiting from the purported giveaways.

The Post’s flawed reporting appeared to set off a scramble at the paper to correct the record. Two articles about the books were deleted without explanation Tuesday morning, before reappearing a couple hours later with correction notes.

The headline on the original digital story – “Kamala isn’t at the southern border – but migrant kids are getting Veep’s book” – was rewritten as: “Kamala isn’t at the southern border – but at least one migrant kid got Veep’s book.”

But a follow-up story that falsely claimed “migrant children have been given copies” of the book retained that line as of Tuesday afternoon, even after the correction note was added.

The New York Post’s representatives, including digital editor Michelle Gotthelf and reporter Laura Italiano, who wrote the first story, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker debunked the stories early Tuesday morning, a few hours before the New York Post corrected them. But the false reports nevertheless set off a chain of misinformation on news outlets and social media over the weekend.

An online Fox News story was corrected Tuesday to note that only one donated book was known to exist. But it still alleged that “the inclusion of the book raises questions over who is providing funding for the welcome packs.” (It was the second high-profile correction for Fox News in about 24 hours. On Monday, the network walked back a false report that President Biden intended to restrict consumption of red meat.)

A Fox spokeswoman did not provide an initial comment about the children’s book story. The network is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, who also controls the New York Post.

Conservative lawmakers and GOP party officials also made hay out of the children’s book story in the four days it remained online and uncorrected. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio both blasted it (Cotton later deleted his tweet). And Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted: “After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrants in facilities at the border, it’s worth asking . . . Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?”

McDaniel’s tweet is somewhat ironic. The Washington Post reported this month that the RNC used more than $400,000 in donated funds last year to buy copies of books written by Republican authors, potentially generating royalty payments.

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