At his rally in Florida on Saturday the US President referred to a security incident in Sweden which turned out to be fake. He told his supporters “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden”, as he listed places in Europe attacked by terrorists.
It later emerged he was not referring to a specific incident but a report on the Fox news channel (one of the few US media outlets he apparently likes) about a rise in crime since Sweden opened its doors to immigrants in 2013.
But by the time his team had explained the gaffe, it was too late.
All Mr Trump’s claims about the media peddling false stories about his administration were instantly seized on and in no time at all he had become an object of ridicule (again!).
Trending on Twitter
The hashtag “lastnightinSweden” trended on Twitter with mocking references to Swedish pop icons Abba – “Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance chance” – and furniture giant Ikea.
— Courtney (@CHydeDesign) February 19, 2017
— James Zachary (@jimzachary) February 20, 2017
There was even a tweet from former prime minister Carl Bildt who asked: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. https://t.co/XWgw8Fz7tj
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017
Mr Trump’s hardcore supporters won’t care – they’ll almost certainly see it as another example of out-of-touch Liberals rounding unfairly on their man.
But whatever their take, the reality is the leader of the free world has made himself a laughing stock yet again, and it could have been avoided if he’d taken more care and got his facts right (that’s to say real, incontestable facts).
It’s a lesson for every person, company or institution in the spotlight.
Ignore it at your peril.