Fake News! A look at what didn’t happen this week
A roundup of some of the most popular, but completely untrue, headlines of the week. None of these stories are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:
■Not real: Trump defaulted on payments for his Puerto Rico golf course, leaving the territory with a $33 million tax debt
■The facts: The Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico had the president’s name on it, but he never owned the facility, despite the claims of several outlets. The Coco Beach Golf & Country Club was rebranded with President Donald Trump’s name when the club licensed it in 2008. It defaulted on a municipal bond payment in 2015 and filed for bankruptcy the same year under its original name. A Trump company is listed as one of the club’s creditors in the filing.
■Not real: NFL Fines Pittsburgh Steelers $1M Each For Skipping National Anthem
■The facts: This story from admitted hoax site The Last Line of Defense claims NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the fines to the Steelers for staying off the field while the anthem was played Sunday ahead of their game against the Chicago Bears. Goodell called the president’s criticisms of players and the league over anthem protests “divisive” and said later he was proud of the league’s reaction, in which more than 200 players knelt or sat during the national anthem.
■Not real: Alabama Teen Shot After Police Mistake Saxophone for Machine Gun
■The facts: A story that began circulating in August 2016 details the killing of a teen in Gary, Alabama, a town that doesn’t exist. The account, reporting a local police officer shot a boy walking to his bus stop believing his instrument to be a weapon, includes a photo of a teen fatally shot by police in St. Louis in April of last year. The story has been widely shared by several sites in recent days.
■Not real: Trump orders Puerto Rico travel ban for Congress after criticism of his hurricane response
■The facts: Trump did not issue a travel ban on members of Congress after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, despite several viral headlines stemming from a Washington Post report that lawmakers were denied use of military aircraft to get there. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez told reporters Thursday he tried to arrange a trip with fellow lawmakers aboard a plane provided by the Pentagon, but it was canceled. Several lawmakers, including Menendez, have visited the island or are planning to via commercial flights.
■Not real: If You Ever See Cracks In Your Watermelon When You Cut It, Throw It Out. It Can Make You Sick
■The facts: Spiking temperatures while a watermelon is growing can cause cracks inside, but they are harmless, an industry group says. Several alarming stories have been shared based on a 2011 case of exploding watermelons in China. The watermelons were treated with a growth chemical that’s not used on watermelons in the U.S.