A Wall Street Journal reporter with a history of anti-Trump bias claimed on Wednesday that the White House covered the name of the USS John McCain during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Japan — which was later disputed by multiple sources.
In a tweet that went viral, WSJ reporter Rebecca Ballhaus wrote that “a tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the trip, and sailors—who wear caps bearing the ship’s name—were given the day off for Trump’s visit.”
“A tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the president’s trip, according to photos reviewed by the Journal, and sailors were directed to remove any coverings from the ship that bore its name,” Ballhaus wrote in her report. “After the tarp was taken down, a barge was moved closer to the ship, obscuring its name. Navy officials acknowledge the barge was moved but said it was not moved to obscure the name of the ship.”
Ballhaus’s tweet and report went viral and were used to immediately attack the president before any additional information was able to come out.
A couple of hours later, the Navy Chief of Information tweeted: “The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.”
President Donald Trump tweeted: “I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!”
Even MSNBC appeared to refute Ballhaus’ claims, noting that the tarp was removed before the president arrived in Japan.
“A spokesperson for US Pacific Fleet said the picture of the tarp is from Friday and it was taken down on Saturday,” MSNBC’s Katy Tur tweeted. “‘All ships remained in normal configuration during POTUS’ visit,’ CDR Nate Christensen said.”
Ballhaus has a history of distorting things to attack the president.
Earlier this year, Ballhaus took a quote from Trump out of context when the president was responding to the threat of white nationalism.
When asked if Trump saw white nationalism as a growing threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
Yet, in her tweet, Ballhaus only reported part of Trump’s comment, writing: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people.”
Ballhaus faced widespread criticism over her dishonest framing of the president’s quote, including from the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted at her: “When you leave out the part of the quote that negates the narrative you’re trying to push you really bolster the argument of all those complaining about media bias and #fakenews. I would expect more from the @WSJ, but I probably shouldn’t.”