Back during the cold war, one frequently could see headlines in the Enquirer and its sibling publications that began with the words "Leading Russian Scientists...", and going on to describe earth-shaking advances that would shortly bring about utopia/fall of the west/whatever.
These stories, it turned out, originated with the same two Russian "scientists" every time. They would put together some far-fetched yarn, and perhaps an accompanying picture, and then the fun started. The KGB had friends in various papers all over the world, most of them rather small local rags who got their stories from the KGB the same was American papers get their news from AP. Notably, these stories went to a small paper in India, who would print anything handed to them without question. They reported, honestly, that "it has been reported that...", insert story here.
Note that the veracity of the report was not the issue, only that it had been reported.
The story next appears in an African paper, of similar repute, but now its "it has been widely reported that", since the story had now appeared on 2 continents. Lastly the National Enquirer would pick it up with all the notes about how widely the story has been reported, and put it on the front page.
The Democrats have caught on to this technique.
You've got to admit, with a willing press, it works.