NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


Video edited to remove context from Biden’s comment about Black worker

CLAIM: Video shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden saying the reason he has been able to stay sequestered in his home is because “some Black woman was able to stack the grocery shelf.”

THE FACTS: The video including that remark by Biden was shortened to remove the context in which it was said. A review of the full video taken during a Sept. 15 veterans roundtable Biden hosted at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, shows the candidate was making a point about various groups stepping up as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. At least two heavily edited versions of the video were shared by public figures including Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett. Cleveland-area pastor Darrell Scott, who co-founded Trump’s National Diversity Coalition, posted one of the videos on Twitter with the caption, “What???? And Black folks STILL giving him a pass!” The videos quickly amassed millions of views on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But they lacked important context for understanding Biden’s point, which was about different groups coming together to help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden used the quote as one of multiple examples of different groups supporting each other as he explained his optimism for America’s future: “And you say, ‘Why in the hell would you say that, Biden? You just talked about all these difficulties,’” Biden said. “Well, I’ll tell you why. Because the American public, the blinders have been taken off. They’ve all of a sudden seen a hell of a lot clearer. They are saying: ‘Jeez, the reason I was able to stay sequestered in my home is because some Black woman was able to stack the grocery shelf, or I got a young Hispanic is out there, or these dreamers out there, 60,000 of them, acting as first responders and nurses and docs.’ Or, all of a sudden people are realizing, my lord, you know, these people have done so much — not just Black, white but across the board — have done so much for me. We can do this. We can get things done.”

— Associated Press writer Ali Swenson reported from Seattle.


Posts misrepresent Trump’s remarks from Walter Reed

CLAIM: While hospitalized President Donald Trump said, “The doctors said they’ve never seen a body kill the coronavirus like my body. They tested my DNA and it wasn’t DNA. It was USA.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence Trump made such a statement. The president shared an update on his condition in a video message posted to Twitter on Saturday after testing positive for the coronavirus and being transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. A screenshot from the video was shared online with a false caption that included the quote. The post was shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook. The full video of the address shows that Trump makes no references to his DNA during his speech. The false caption was also not tweeted by the president. In his address, he thanked medical professionals and the outpouring of support he has received. “I came here wasn’t feeling so well,” he says in the video. “I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back. I have to be back because we still have to make America great again.” The false caption was made into a meme and shared in several different languages, including Vietnamese.

— Associated Press writer Beatrice Dupuy reported from New York.


CLAIM: Vice President Mike Pence tweeted after his debate with Democratic rival Kamala Harris that an Instagram page had released evidence Harris received the questions beforehand.

THE FACTS: The tweet was fabricated — it was not sent from Pence’s account. At the start of the Oct. 7 debate between Pence and Harris, moderator Susan Page announced, “No one in either campaign or at the commission or anywhere else has been told in advance what topics I’ll raise or what questions I’ll ask.” To date, there is no publicly available, credible evidence either candidate had advance notice of the questions. But an image of a fabricated tweet that purports to be from Pence’s account suggests otherwise. The tweet was made to look like it was sent from @VP, one of the Twitter accounts used by the vice president, and has the same photo as Pence’s actual account. It reads, “I want to thank everyone for the support for tonight’s debate. I’d say it was a success. It was also brought to my attention that the Instagram page @electionleaks released evidence of Kamala receiving the questions beforehand. This is unfair and I’d say that everyone should check out the evidence to judge for themselves.” The tweet does not appear on Pence’s @VP account. Nor does it appear on Politwoops, a ProPublica archive of politicians’ deleted tweets.

— Associated Press writer Jude Joffe-Block reported from Phoenix.


Barr hasn’t announced that Obama launched antifa

CLAIM: Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into antifa reveals that the organization was created by former President Barack Obama and liberal financier George Soros.

THE FACTS: The claim stems from a satirical article. Barr has not opened an investigation into antifa, a term for leftist militants, although he did form a task force to examine violence around nationwide protests this summer. “Barr’s investigation of ANTIFA leads directly to Barack Obama,” says the headline of the June 8 article on a site called Obama Watcher, which is labeled as satire. Obama Watcher is part of a network of satirical sites run by America’s Last Line of Defense, a liberal site that tries to dupe Trump’s supporters with false news stories. Facebook and Twitter users continue to pass around the article as real. Antifa is not considered an organized group. FBI Director Christopher Wray has told lawmakers that it is an ideology or a movement, not an organization. The Department of Justice, which is led by Barr, has opened investigations into some violence that erupted in cities during nationwide protests calling for racial justice earlier this year.

—Associated Press writer Amanda Seitz reported from Chicago.


Video does not show pro-Trump bikers outside Walter Reed

CLAIM: Video shows bikers praying for Trump outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

THE FACTS: The video actually shows bikers in South Africa praying during an event to protest against the attacks against farmers in the area. After news broke that Trump was being taken to Walter Reed, his supporters began gathering outside the hospital to wish the president well. Social media users are misrepresenting a TikTok video to say it shows Trump’s supporters outside the hospital praying for the president, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The clip, which shows motorcyclists kneeling in a park as they pray, was viewed more than a million times on Twitter as of Monday. Social media users shared the 8-second clip of the bikers and stills from the clip with a false caption. “Thousands of bikers gathered outside Walter Reed Hospital to pray for Trump,” one post on Facebook said. The video was taken months before the president was diagnosed with COVID-19. The video actually shows a biker rally in Pretoria, South Africa, in August. The clip matches with footage taken at the time of a biker protest held against the murders of farmers. The clip was widely shared on Facebook and Twitter; the Trump War Room, the official account for the president’s campaign, shared the video with the false caption on Twitter on Saturday. Trump briefly left the hospital Sunday to drive by and wave to his supporters camped outside. The president could be seen in an SUV wearing a mask inside the armored vehicle.

—Beatrice Dupuy


Photo does not show Fox News’ Chris Wallace without a mask

CLAIM: Photo shows Fox News’ Chris Wallace without a face mask in public.

THE FACTS: The photo is of Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News. The photo has been circulating on Twitter since May. On Oct. 4, a photo surfaced on social media showing Karl without a mask. Social media users claimed the photo showed Wallace. “Notice that the only one walking around in this public place without a mask on is the extremely biased, elitist, Chris Wallace. #ChrisWallace #Trump #TrumpCovid #MAGA #ChrisWallaceTheHack,” one tweet said. The false post had over 14,000 retweets. Multiple reporters from the White House press corps recognized and pointed out Karl on social media. The photo was uploaded to Twitter in May. It shows Karl standing outside Mi Vida, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, without a mask. In May, social media users posted multiple photos of Karl outside the restaurant, criticizing him for standing in public without a mask. Wallace moderated the first debate between Trump and Biden last week. On Oct. 2, Wallace urged Fox News viewers to “wear the damn mask.”

—Associated Press


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