Donald Trump falsely boasts of stopping Ford plant being moved to Mexico, prompting claims leader spreading 'fake news'

Ford has never announced plans to move either its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which employs more than 5,000 people, or the Louisville Assembly Plant, which employs 4,700, to Mexico

Click to follow
The Independent US

Donald Trump has taken credit for keeping jobs in the US that were not under threat in the first place, fuelling a debate about the power of misinformation on social media.

The President-elect boasted he “worked hard” to stop a Ford production plant moving from Kentucky to Mexico in a Twitter post late on Thursday.

But this has been exposed as something of an overstatement, because the car company had only ever planned to move the production of one vehicle and not an entire plant.

“Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico,” wrote Mr Trump.

“I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”

Mr Trump’s claim was picked up by international news wire Reuters, which issued a story labelled “urgent” to its subscribers across the media.

“US President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday Ford Motor Co Chairman Bill Ford had just told him the automaker had decided not to move production at a Kentucky plant to Mexico,” read the first version of the story.

However, the story was quickly updated when it emerged that Ford had repeatedly said it has no plans to close any US plants, debunking Mr Trump’s assertion that he had saved an entire site in Kentucky.

The car giant has never announced plans to move to Mexico either its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which employs more than 5,000 people and produces the Lincoln Navigator, or the Louisville Assembly Plant, which produces the Lincoln MKC and the Ford Escape and employs 4,700 people.

In a statement following Trump's tweet, Ford said it had told Mr Trump it would cancel a plan to shift production of a single model – the MKC – from Kentucky to Mexico.

The company last year indicated it would be moving MKC production out of Louisville, though it did not announce where it was going.

At the time, union leaders said the shift would not cost any jobs in Kentucky, because Escape production would replace lost MKC production.

“Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky,” the company said in a statement. 

“We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve US competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.”

In a follow-up email exchange, a Ford spokeswoman confirmed that there had previously been a plan to move MKC production to Mexico.

“Donald Trump confused production of a vehicle with a plant. There is no Lincoln plant in Kentucky, but Ford builds MKC in state,” tweeted Reuters reporter David Shepardson.

But some have accused Mr Trump of exaggeration and disregard for the facts in an attempt to appeal to his followers’ emotions and promote a positive image of himself as a saviour of US jobs.

“To a bunch of people, the election of Trump immediately saved jobs. There is no evidence this is the case,” wrote journalist Jesse Singal.

"It is becoming increasingly unclear that what Trump does or doesn't do is, thanks to fake news, completely untethered from the real world in a way that makes Fox News treatment of the Bush administration look quaint and harmless by comparison."

This week, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year, which it defines as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.