“But we have nothing to do with the pro-Putin or pro-Five Star sites,” Mr. Morisi said at the time.
Since becoming Italy’s interior minister and vice premier, Mr. Salvini’s constant social media posts, television appearances and campaign-style travel have raised the question of when he actually works. But that is perhaps an outdated conception of work in an age when the media message is the métier.
At 12:38 p.m. on Sept. 24, the government passed Mr. Salvini’s tough new immigration law. At 12:55 p.m. he posted a smiley face emoticon. At 1:09 p.m., he tweeted a link to himself talking about it on Facebook Live. At 1:45 he tweeted that the hashtag about his decree, #DecretoSalvini, was “in ten minutes already third on Twitter in Italy! Thank you.” At 2:59, he tweeted that the hashtag was “FIRST in Italy on Twitter.”
Mr. Foa has had his own adventures on Twitter.
A few days before the 2016 United States presidential election, he shared an Italian blog post claiming Mrs. Clinton had attended a “satanic” dinner with John Podesta.
He said that the report seemed plausible to him because he recalled reading in some “very serious press” about “pedophilic” art in the collection of Mr. Podesta. (John’s brother, Tony Podesta, collects contemporary works.)
“I didn’t go deep on this,” he said in the interview this week in his defense, acknowledging that he “might be wrong,” and that he sometimes succumbed to the temptation to publish the sensational to boost his audience on social media.
“It’s happened to me a couple of times,” he said.
In 2017, he falsely claimed the United States military was preparing to mobilize 150,000 reservists, possibly for a war against Syria or North Korea or Russia. He said a friend in American national security circles told him Mr. Trump had called up reservists and that he checked with an expert he knew in Italy who said it was true.
“So I had two sources and I wrote just five lines on my blog, ten lines. And that’s all,” he said.
Still, he thinks reporters could be more cautious, when, for instance, reporting that Russia was behind the March poisoning of a former Soviet Spy, Sergei V. Skripal.