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


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


CLAIM: A photo of a menacing cloud formation hovering over a cornfield was taken Tuesday by the Bonner Springs, Kansas, police department as tornadoes coursed through the region.

THE FACTS: A photojournalist captured the photo almost a year ago while covering storms about 200 miles away from Bonner Springs, in the small town of Andale, Kansas. Travis Heying, a photographer with The Wichita Eagle newspaper, took the photo on June 26, 2018. “It’s just a cool, midsummer Kansas thunderstorm,” Heying told The Associated Press. Facebook and Twitter users shared the photograph, wrongly identifying it as being taken west of Kansas City. Heying said it should have been easy to spot that the photo was being misrepresented. “Any self-respecting Midwesterner knows the corn is never that tall in May,” he said.


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CLAIM: Screenshot shows CNN host S.E. Cupp on her “Unfiltered” show with a chyron that suggests she was discussing “fashtag,” a new symbol for the alt-right.

THE FACTS: The image was manipulated. Cupp did not discuss hashtags being used as a fascist symbol on her show, a CNN spokeswoman told the AP in an email. The screenshot was taken from Cupp’s May 25 program on “Politics & Sexism,” in which she discussed White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not “pro-woman” because she declined to speak with Conway following a meeting. The fabricated image shows a hashtag covered by a red circle with a backslash across it where there had been a picture of Pelosi and Conway on the screen. The original chyron read: “Trump called Pelosi ‘Crazy Nancy,’ says she has ‘Lost it.'” In the altered image it reads: “The ‘Fashtag,’ alt-rights new hate symbol?” The manipulated image circulated as part of a thread on the online forum 4chan, where users jokingly suggested using hashtags to represent swastikas.


CLAIM: Video shows “the new congresswoman from Michigan” talking about “making all of America Muslim.”

THE FACTS: The woman in the video is not Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The video shows Muslim advocate Sharifa Alkhateeb addressing the “Muslim American Political Awareness Conference” in 1989. The video, which has often been misrepresented online, began circulating again on May 26 after rock musician Ted Nugent shared it on Facebook. The caption with Nugent’s post, tied to Memorial Day, urges people to “listen very closely to the new congressman from Michigan” and the speaker’s beliefs “so we don’t let them continue to destroy the wonderful American system of individual freedom that so many died for.” The video shared by Nugent has a timestamp of 1989. Tlaib, a 42-year-old Democratic congresswoman, would have been a child when the video was made. In the video, Alkhateeb discusses creating ways of bringing all Americans into the same way of thinking as Muslims. Alkhateeb, former president of the North American Council for Muslim Women, died in 2004. A representative for Nugent did not respond to requests for comment.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.


Find all AP Fact Checks here:

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The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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