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: Special counsel Robert Mueller has spent over $50 million in taxpayer funds investigating Russian election interference.

THE FACTS: The special counsel’s investigation has not come close to spending $50 million, according to the most recent Justice Department reports, which were released in December. According to the reports, the investigation had cost just over $25 million as of September 2018. False claims on the cost of the investigation have circulated on social media in the past and resurfaced after President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Trump has also spread false information on the amount spent on the investigation, first tweeting in November that the investigation had cost about $40 million and following up a few days later with a tweet that said the total was $30 million. Mueller has charged 34 people in relation to the investigation.

–AP Writer Beatrice Dupuy reported this item from New York.

Pro-Palestinian Agitators Attempting to Block Miami Road Find Out Things Are Different in Florida


CLAIM: Sen. Elizabeth Warren supports minimum wage of $22 an hour; does not pay her interns.

THE FACTS: Sen. Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, did not call for the minimum wage to be $22 an hour, as posts circulating on social media suggest. At a March 2013 Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing, she discussed the findings of a study that showed if minimum wage had been tied to productivity between 1960 and 2013, it would be $22 an hour. The senator from Massachusetts supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and is a co-sponsor of legislation that would require that increase by 2024, according to Ashley Woolheater, her Senate press secretary. After 2024, the legislation ties minimum wage adjustments to increases in U.S. median income. As for paying interns, Warren’s office pays $15 an hour to interns who do not receive funding from a university or outside program, Woolheater said.

–AP Writer Chloe Kim reported this item from Washington.


CLAIM: Video purports to show Indian Air Force fighter jets attacking militants this week in Balakot, Pakistan.

THE FACTS: A video said to show an airstrike against militants in Balakot, Pakistan, is being misrepresented in social media posts. The video was created from the military simulation video game “Arma 2,” according to makers of the game. It shows missiles and bombs being fired from an aerial gunner’s perspective at what appears to be groups of militants in a small town. “This video was made by one of our players,” said Korneel van’t Land, brand manager at Bohemia Interactive, which created the Arma game series. Van’t Land said the games can be adapted by players to create their own scenarios. The video began spreading on social media this week after Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan making what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. A representative from the Indian Air Force did not return repeated calls and emails from the AP.

–AP Writer Joseph Gedeon reported this item from Phoenix.


US Judge Tosses Lawsuits Against Former Military Commander Accused of War Crimes

CLAIM: Photo purports to show President Trump incorrectly saluting the flag during the national anthem.

THE FACTS: A false image appearing to show President Donald Trump incorrectly placing his left hand over the right side of his chest at an event is circulating on social media. The photo, which includes the comment “this is the leader of the free world … it still hasn’t sunk in,” has been reversed. The original photo of Trump, in a dark suit and yellow tie and standing next to his wife Melania Trump, shows his hand was placed properly over his heart, which Americans traditionally do during the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the playing of the national anthem. The photo was taken Jan. 5, 2014, at the Trump Invitational Grand Prix at the president’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Two separate photos — one from Getty Images and one from the Palm Beach Post — show the president was saluting the flag correctly.

–AP Writer Amanda Seitz reported this item from Chicago.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online.


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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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