Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller suggested Wednesday that journalists were unfair to scrutinize his habit of posting fabricated or unsupported information on social media. And he doesn’t “spend a lot of time worrying that much” about whether what his postings are true.
“I’m not a news organization,” Miller told Nathan Bernier, a reporter for Austin-based KUT News. “Y’all are holding me to the same standards as you are a news organization, and it’s just Facebook.”
A Texas Tribune analysis published Saturday documented Miller’s tendency to share "fake news" stories on social media — particularly on his campaign’s Facebook page, where he has nearly 340,000 followers.
That story came amid heightened awareness about the power of fake news to shape Americans’ perception of politics and policy and perhaps influence the most recent presidential election. It was published one day before a North Carolina man reportedly fired an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C., pizza joint — allegedly motivated by a fake news story about Hillary Clinton.
On Wednesday, Miller — who had previously cut short an interview with the Tribune — expressed no regret about his postings of false stories in recent years, which include allegations of Islamic terrorists training at a compound outside of Houston, and that the Communist Party endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
“Hundred and fifty posts a week. No, I’m not going to research every one of them,” he told Bernier. “If it’s thought-provoking, I’ll put it up there and let the readers decide. Everyone that reads that is grown ups. It’s like Fox News: I report, you decide if it’s true or not."
He also said that much of what he has posted is comedy and satire. (In several fake news postings that the Tribune examined, however, Miller's accompanying commentary suggests he believed the stories were true.)
After Bernier suggested that other statewide elected officials tend to more carefully vet their posts, Miller said: “I’m not like any other statewide official. I’ve never been politically correct. I really never cared what the press said or does, I do my thing. I do what I think’s best for Texas.”
Also in the interview, Miller, who has been touted as a possible U.S. agriculture secretary in President-elect Donald Trump’s White House, confirmed that he had not yet been interviewed for the post.
“If I get the call, I’ll certainly go up and visit with him,” he said.
You can listen to the full interview below.
And below is Miller's initial response to Saturday's Texas Tribune story: