On Thursday morning, the Washington Post published a piece with an explosive headline: "The State Department's entire senior management team just resigned." The piece alleged that Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, one of the top officials the department, and three of his deputies had left their jobs because they didn't want to serve in the Trump administration.
"The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don't want to stick around for the Trump era," Josh Rogin, the story's author, wrote.
There was certainly an element of truth to the report: Kennedy and those three deputies had indeed left the department. And the story went viral almost immediately. According to Ishaan Tharoor, a foreign affairs writer for the Post, the story was "breaking" Chartbeat, a tool used by news websites to take stock of traffic. "I've never seen anything like it," he said on Twitter.
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But as the day went on, key elements of the article came into question.
For one, the initial headline was misleading — the word "management" strongly implied that all of America's top diplomats were resigning, which was not the case. For another, Kennedy's "entire" team hadn't left when the story was posted, a point that became clear after simply taking a look at State's organizational chart.