Fake News Watch

It’s not quite an all-immigration Fake News Watch this week, but close.

• The King of the Netherlands did not tell President Trump that the Hague is waiting for him. It was a parody account.

• No, fracking didn’t cause the volcanic eruption on Hawaii. And not just because there is no fracking in Hawaii. What the frack, people.

TIME Magazine’s cover with Trump and the crying immigrant child was not an image of a child separated from her parents. The child in question was crying while Border Patrol agents patted down her mother, but the child and mother were not separated. However, TIME stands by its cover, citing the girl as a symbol of the ongoing issues surrounding immigration and the administration’s policy, not just the children separated from their parents. Washington Post delves further into it here.

• Not Fake: Melania Trump’s “I really don’t care” jacket was real. It is a product of Zara, a Spanish fashion company popular with U.S. retailer Urban Outfitters. Zara creates such beautiful items as white-supremacist symbols on a skirt, Holocaust uniform shirts with the pink triangle, a similar set of pajamas made to resemble concentration camp uniforms, complete with Jewish symbol; handbags with swastikas on them… you know, it’s all in good fun! I can’t find if they were responsible for Urban Outfitters’ unlicensed Kent State University shirts with fake blood spatters, but they seem to enjoy the same vein. Here’s a timeline of Zara’s controversies, including allegations of labor violations, copyright violations and various cultural appropriations.

• This should be fun… Four different nonpartisan fact-checking sites (plus others I haven’t linked) have looked into “Obama did it too” as a response to the policy of separating families at the border. Each has found it false. Politifact points out that Obama immigration policy had plenty of critics, but he didn’t separate children. The Bush administration referred all undocumented immigrants for prosecution but specifically excepted adults traveling with children. Snopes rated it false: there is no law requiring it, and the policy was enacted in May 2018. Factcheck.org details changes in the administration’s story from speech to speech, and reiterates again: zero tolerance policy to separate families began in May 2018. Washington Post Fact-Checker has detailed the facts and fiction on this issue.

• Related: Business Insider, of all publications, compiled the stats and found that immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. By a HUGE factor. They’re also less likely to commit acts of terrorism and their children are no more likely to commit a crime than the children of native-born Americans. That factors in both undocumented immigrants and legal visa holders. More than 95 percent of sexual assaults were committed by native-born Americans. In addition, statistical analysis shows the claim that 63,000 Americans have been killed by undocumented immigrants since 2001 is impossible by the numbers.

The child dressed as Donald Trump was not expelled from school. The photo making the rounds first appeared in a 2015 HuffPo roundup of kids dressed as Trump for Halloween, before he even declared candidacy for President. (Trump, not the toddler.) The first clue that the entire story was made up might be that the kid’s alleged name – Basil Karlo – is the alter ego of DC Comics villain Clayface.

• Someone snagged the URL www.trumphotels.org. Naturally, the site is not being run by the president. The quotes (as of this writing) are accurate, however.

L.L. Bean is not refusing to hire registered gun owners. Michelle Obama is not its top stockholder. It’s a private company. It HAS no stockholders. The post came from a so-called satire site. That’s not stopping people from posting it and calling for a boycott, of course.

• This one’s making the rounds again: No, a small Virginia newspaper did NOT run a front-page ad for the KKK. The Westmoreland Times ran a story about KKK recruitment flyers found on front lawns, including racist and anti-Semitic messages. They included a picture of the flyer, which was provided in context and with a clear statement that the paper did not support the content expressed. This has been an issue that comes up from time to time: when we write about racism, are we supporting it or revealing it? In retrospect, other newspapers have reported on similar flyers and redacted contact information, which might have been a wiser choice for the Westmoreland Times. But in running a headline that baldly calls it an ad for the KKK, Newsweek crossed the line the other way. An ad is paid content. This was news, even if it made people clutch their pearls.

• I have a two-way tie for my favorite Fakery of the Week. No, Stormy Daniels is not running for president. And Mark Zuckerberg is not closing Facebook.

Note: This feature does not take a stance on political issues. It is solely in favor of fact over fiction, at least in the public discourse.

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