BEATRICE DUPUY and ARIJETA LAJKA
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 them out. Here are the real facts:
CLAIM: The Department of Defense canceled Fox News from Armed Forces Radio after attacks against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
THE FACTS: The Pentagon’s American Forces Network — which used to be known as the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service — did not remove Fox News from its programming. The claim circulated widely on social media after Vindman, a decorated war veteran and European Affairs expert on the National Security Council, faced criticism for testifying in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The claim mushroomed on Facebook at the end of public hearings on Thursday, even as Fox News played on the American Forces Network, which broadcasts to armed forces and their families. The Defense Department confirmed to The Associated Press that the claim was false. “We have not canceled Fox News from American Forces Network programming, either on our radio or TV services,” said Navy Capt. Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesperson. Vindman’s lawyer has called on Fox News to retract a segment where a guest on Laura Ingraham’s show suggested that Vindman was a spy. On Tuesday, The White House released a tweet questioning Vindman’s credibility.
CLAIM: “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace posted a tweet making a number of derogatory remarks about President Donald Trump, including: “You’re a fraud. A charlatan. A thug. A loser.”
THE FACTS: Wallace does not have a Twitter account and “Fox News Sunday” did not tweet the post from its account. The post combined what appeared to be two tweets: a Nov. 17 tweet by Trump criticizing Wallace, which was real, and a fabricated tweet that made it appear Wallace responded with criticism of his own. The post emerged after Trump tweeted about Wallace’s Sunday interview with Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana: “@SteveScalise blew the nasty & obnoxious Chris Wallace (will never be his father, Mike!) away on Chris’s lowest rated (unless I’m on) morning show. This kind of dumb and unfair interview would never have happened in the @FoxNews past. Great job Steve!” That tweet was then featured in a screenshot with a false tweet made to show Wallace responding, in part, “@realDonaldTrump And you’ll never be your father either, (Fred Trump), a self-made Billionaire. You’re a fraud. A charlatan. A thug. A loser. A trust fund baby. A punk. A serial adulterer… . My job is to be a journalist, not a flunky and a propaganda arm for your criminal behavior and corruption. If you want propaganda, go watch Hannity, Ingram, Pirro, and Tucker who do nothing but kiss your ass.” A Fox News representative told The Associated Press in a phone interview that the tweet was not real and Wallace has not issued an official response to Trump’s tweet. It’s not the first time Trump has compared the Fox anchor with his father Mike Wallace, a legendary 60 Minutes correspondent. In October, Wallace responded to a similar tweet by the president by saying: “He often likes to say about me, ‘You know, I was covered by Mike Wallace, I liked him much more,'” he said. “To which my reaction is always: One of us has a daddy problem, and it’s not me.”
CLAIM: Photo shows Rep. Elise Stefanik giving the middle finger following testimony by former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings.
THE FACTS: The image of the Republican congresswoman from New York was manipulated to make it appear she was making the obscene gesture. The manipulated photo began circulating following the second day of public testimony, which featured Yovanovitch. Stefanik addressed the manipulated photo, tweeting: “The photoshopped picture that the Leftist Twitter mob led by George Conway is circulating is FAKE – I’ve been so busy exposing Adam Schiff’s #regimeofsecrecy that I haven’t had time for a manicure in weeks.” She then shared a photo of herself at the press conference. The image appears to have been taken from a video that shows the audience in the hearing room applauding Yovanovitch as she leaves the room. Stefanik can be seen approaching the camera, then she turns away, making no gesture with her hands. Some social media users who shared the manipulated photo corrected their posts, noting that the photo was manipulated by a graphic artist. But it continued to be shared this week on social media, including on Facebook, as real. Stefanik is the only Republican woman on the House Intelligence Committee.
CLAIM: Video shows Jess Phillips, a Labour Party candidate in the upcoming U.K. election, saying the party can’t deliver on its manifesto promising change.
THE FACTS: The Conservative Party posted a misleading version of an Oct. 3 interview Phillips did with Good Morning Britain to make it appear she was casting doubt on the manifesto being promoted by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of the Dec. 12 election. On Nov. 21, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party uploaded a portion of Phillips’ interview that aired more than a month earlier. “MUST WATCH: Labour’s Jess Phillips undermines Corbyn’s manifesto by admitting they can’t or won’t deliver on their promises. With no clear plan for Brexit, Labour just can’t deliver,” the party posted on an official Twitter account. In just a few hours, the post amassed over 130,000 views. But the post is misleading, combining two Good Morning Britain segments — the one with Phillips’ interview Oct. 3 and another from Nov. 21, the day Labour announced its manifesto. In the Oct. 3 segment, Phillips discussed her new book, “Truth to Power,” which examines how to call out bullies. During the interview, she was asked about Brexit and how parties deliver on their promises. “To be perfectly honest, I think there is an argument to be said that you can never ever deliver all those things that you’re pretending you can deliver when you go to the electorate,” Phillips said in the interview. “In reality things change, globally things change, and situations change, facts change.” On Nov. 21, the day Labour’s manifesto was introduced, the Conservative Party tweeted a video segment from Phillips’ earlier interview containing only the quote about delivering on promises, making it appear she said it on Good Morning Britain that day. The clip circulated by @Conservatives was captioned: “LABOUR: NOT SURE WE CAN DELIVER ON OUR PROMISES.” Phillips responded to the post by tweeting, “I understand it’s difficult for the Conservatives to understand a politician being honest, but this is so misleading, I was being asked why I’d changed my views on Brexit, weeks ago.” In recent weeks, the Conservative Party has received widespread criticism for posting altered clips online and spreading misinformation on their official social media accounts.
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.