December 2, 2017 9:00 am

Trump isn’t openly blacklisted from the royal wedding (but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was)

Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at a charity fair in Nottingham, England, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Adrian Dennis/Pool Photo via AP

If you want a fake news story to practice on, Nova Magazine’s purported scoop about the royal engagement wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

First, we have a clickbait headline: ‘Prince Harry says Donald Trump is not welcome at his wedding: ‘Trump is a serious threat to human rights.’’

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That would certainly be an indiscreet thing for Harry to say, at least in public. And you can read through the very short story without any evidence, even indirect evidence, that he did say it — by quoting him directly, or by quoting someone who says he said it, even someone who isn’t named (which is a low standard). But by the time you’re reading that far, you’ve already clicked.

A close look shows two headlines over the same story on two different pages — the less successful one was ‘Donald Trump Not Welcome At Prince Harry’s Wedding To American Actress: Trump Is A ‘Serious Threat To Human Rights.’ The URL mentioning Meghan Markle did better, for what it’s worth.

But the story got a fair amount of social media energy, mostly from people who took it at face value, and 161 comments.

The site refers to a much more carefully worded story in Newsweek, raising the possibility that the Obamas might get an invitation because they get along well with the younger royals, and Trump might not, because of the protests and security arrangements that follow a U.S. president.

(The Obamas didn’t go to the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for this reason, Newsweek points out, and Ronald Reagan didn’t go to Charles and Diana’s wedding.)

That history provides a tactful excuse, and if there’s anything the royals are trained to do, it is to be tactfully opaque when the need arises.

All of this is just as well, for Harry and his older brother could be excused for having a much more personal grudge against Trump than a simple policy disagreement.

READ MORE: Will Trump’s crude comments about royals make state visit awkward?

Trump has a long history of crude comments not only about the Duchess of Cambridge (the bride and groom’s future sister-in-law and sister-in-law, respectively) but also about Diana, Harry’s mother, who died when he was 12.

Earlier this year, Harry revealed that his mother’s death caused him years of suffering and what he called ‘total chaos’ in early adulthood, which eased only when he sought out psychiatric help on his brother’s advice.

Both of Trump’s comments, on the Howard Stern show, came after Diana’s death.

  • The first came in 1997, in the immediate aftermath of her death. “You could have gotten her, right?” Stern asks Trump (audio). “You could have nailed her.” “I think I could have,” Trump responds. “I thought she was supermodel beautiful. There were times when she didn’t look great, and times when she looked better than anybody in the world. She had the height, she had magnificent skin.”
  • The second was in 2000, when Trump placed Diana at #3 on a ‘Top 10 beautiful women list’ that he had compiled. “You would have slept with her?” Stern asks. (audio) “Without even hesitation,” Trump says. “She had the height, she had the beauty, she had the skin, the whole thing. Crazy, but these are minor details.”

(We have wondered if this is the background of why a Trump visit to Britain — ‘state’ or ‘working’ — much discussed from time to time, never gets beyond the planning stage.)

In other royal fake news, the Tatler, a gossipy British magazine, announced a Prince Harry/Meghan Markle engagement a month or so before the couple themselves announced it.

The magazine later apologized, sort of.

WATCH: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are “breaking the internet” with their news of a royal wedding in the works for this coming spring. Online producer Amy Judd has more information.

READ MORE: Libya TV follows Donald Trump’s lead, implies CNN report on slavery in country ‘fake news’

In fake news news:

  • The U.S. Federal Communications Commission asked for people’s thoughts on net neutrality. Lots of real humans responded — and over a million bots using the details of real humans, all of whom opposed net neutrality (the idea that ISPs should give consumers free access to all parts of the web at the same price), submitting a block of text that varied in a few places. “It’s scary to think that organic, authentic voices in the public debate — more than 99 per cent of which are in favor of keeping net neutrality — are being drowned out by a chorus of spambots,” data scientist Jeff Kao concludes. 
  • In case you missed it this week: The Washington Post elegantly handled an attempt to discredit its reporting on Roy Moore through a fradulent complainant. Reporters did their jobs, the story fell apart, making way for a much more revealing account of the deception itself. It turned out to be part of an elaborate plan which included an effort to spy on the paper.
  • At Buzzfeed, Craig Silverman looks at how the structure of social platforms rewards propaganda and manipulation. “One of the unintended consequences of the so-called “flattening” effect of platforms is that, by ostensibly putting everyone on the same level, you empower those who become experts at gaming the system. By democratizing media on platforms that reward pure attention capture, you enable manipulation on a profound scale.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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