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: What’s This? Congress has paid out $15 million from ‘Sexual Harassment Slush Fund’ to ‘Quiet’ Victims!
■The Facts: A Congress-administered fund does exist to settle harassment and other disputes with lawmakers, but all of its actions are public. Multiple sites posted stories after several politicians were publicly accused of sexual misconduct identified the Office of Compliance as a “slush fund.” While that term describes an off-the-books operation often used for criminal purposes, all the office’s settlement data is publicly available . It has paid out $17.2 million over the past 20 years to settle disputes, not all of which have involved harassment complaints.
■Not Real: Queen Elizabeth removes Obamas from royal wedding guest list
■The Facts: Buckingham Palace has not released a guest list for the wedding of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle, despite a blog site’s claims the queen personally intervened to exclude former President Barack and Michelle Obama and invite President Donald Trump to the wedding. The British prince’s office said last month that the exact date for the May wedding hadn’t even been agreed upon. The YourNewsWire piece claimed the queen was offended by the Obamas’ congratulatory tweets to her grandson. The Obamas have had a historically friendly relationship with Elizabeth.
■Not Real: Woman fired for flipping off Trump’s motorcade receives 453,673 job offers
■The Facts: Juli Briskman said she got new interest in her career, but not the number of job offers specified in an extranewsfeed piece tagged as satire about the Virginia bicyclist who was fired after raising her middle finger at President Donald Trump’s motorcade. Briskman did say she attracted more than 17,000 new Twitter followers, however.
■Not Real: Morgue employee cremated by mistake while taking a nap
■The Facts: This false story has been circulating for months after the World News Daily Report site published an account of a Texas morgue employee who fell asleep on a stretcher and was mistaken for a dead person; it included pictures of a Texas medical examiner from a 2012 news profile and the mug shot of a Mississippi official charged with DUI in 2015. A new version of the piece this week kept the story details but changed the location to Macomb County. The piece appeared on a site that closely resembles ABC News, prompting concerned calls across the Michigan county. Macomb County corner Daniel Spitz said the office does not have cremation facilities.
■Not Real: Virginia DOT to ban vehicles valued under $60,000 from driving on Interstate 66
■The Facts: This account has been circulating on the realnewsrightnow hoax site since the state’s transportation department launched its “Express Lanes” concept that raises tolls to over $30 on a nine-mile stretch of highway near Washington, D.C. Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Holland says the story that the state has banned cars valued under $60,000 is “not true.”
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