How the Internet helps spread 2016 falsehoods

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump often targets his rivals on Twitter
  • CNN's Jake Tapper explores what can go awry on the Internet

(CNN)UPDATE: Both Donald Trump and his campaign staffer Dan Scavino have deleted their tweets.

"A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on," London preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in 1855, well before the invention of the Internet.
A case in point just popped up.
    Let's explore.
    1) GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump tweeted at 2:28 pm ET Tuesday: "Unreal! Highly respected Senator Tom Coburn- said this about Cruz: https://t.co/2WswDhyPQD"
    Trump repeated the comments during an event in South Carolina as well.
    "Did you see the senator from Oklahoma that just came out with a statement? He came out with such a strong statement that Ted Cruz is dishonest -- he's a Republican! I've never seen a human being that lies so much," Trump said.
    2) What was the quote? Trump provided a link to a tweet stating the following: "He is, without a doubt, one of the most dishonest people in DC." @TomCoburn on Ted Cruz bit.ly/1oGZqI6Scavino
    It should be noted: that 12:21 pm ET tweet is from Dan Scavino, the Trump campaign's director of social media.
    3) Here's where it gets shaky: Scavino provided a link to a story on a liberal website "Forward Progressives" from October 18, 2015.
    In that story, a progressive writer pens the following: "I've made no secret of my total disdain for Sen. Ted Cruz. He epitomizes everything that's wrong with the Republican party. He is, without a doubt, one of the most dishonest people in Washington and, in my opinion, a complete sociopath."
    THIS is where the "one of the most dishonest people in DC" quote comes from -- not from former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma.
    4) Let us now, just for kicks, see where this all originated.
    The liberal writer quotes former Sen. Tom Coburn and links to a story in the Dallas Morning News from October 16, 2015.
    5) The Dallas Morning News had taken the quotes from BuzzFeed from October 15, 2015.
    6) BuzzFeed took it from Coburn in an interview with Pete Dominick on Sirius XM talking about the "Cruz Effect." Coburn criticized Cruz for "creat(ing) greater disappointment in the hinterlands" in terms of pledging to stop Obamacare, etc, "because you gave them a false hope, knowing that you couldn't accomplish it, but it was about yelling, and screaming, and waving the flag."
    At no point during any of this did Coburn say the initial quote about Cruz.
    The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.