1. Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman did not declare war on the Islamic State. On Dec. 10, several major U.S. outlets — including the New York Post and Fox — reported a truly fascinating new development in the war on terror: Notorious cartel leader “El Chapo” had sent the Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi an encrypted email, they claimed, promising that “my men will destroy you” for interrupting the drug trade. The information was sourced back to a site called Cartel Blog, which reports on Mexican gang violence and the drug war.
The only problem? Cartel Blog got its information from Thug Life Videos — and as the name would imply, Thug Life Videos is not exactly an authoritative source. Steve Charnock, who works for the site, told The Daily Mail that the story was conceived as “satire, faux news” and that none of the outlets that reported the story ever reached out to verify it. This has not, of course, stopped the “news” from spreading like wildfire on social media or reaching the front page of Reddit.
2. A Colorado woman in a viral video did not really have an “inspirational” interaction with a Walmart cashier. Paige Yore’s YouTube video of a touching encounter at a Walmart store has been viewed more than 25 million times since last Friday: In it, Yore tells the story of a young cashier who has an argument with a customer, then begins sobbing — telling Yore that his mother committed suicide that morning. Yore is the hero of the story, needless to say, listening patiently to the teenager and giving him a hug. But according to Walmart, she’s less a hero than a hoaxer: the store claims Yore made the whole story up. Per Walmart, the cashier in question is actually A-okay, and his mother is alive and well. Surveillance video also never shows him crying or Yore hugging him.
Yore has stuck by her story in subsequent interviews, claiming she’s tried to reach out to Walmart herself. (The store also disputes this.) But comments she made to Pueblo’s KRDO TV would seem to hint at an alternate motive: “What I am doing is not about the fame, it’s not about the money, it’s not about being on ABC,” she said. “It’s about touching people’s lives in a world where we all forget what the meaning of Christmas is.”
3. Donald Trump has not been disqualified from running for president. More than 127,000 tweets have been posted to the Twitter hashtag #TrumpIsDisqualifiedParty — but that doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, despite his very controversial comments regarding Muslims last week, Trump is still very much in the race for president. The confusion seems to have sprung from remarks made by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Dec. 8, the day the hashtag trended: “The first thing a president does when he or she takes the oath of office is to swear an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Earnest told press at his daily media briefing. “And the fact is, what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president.”
That’s Earnest’s opinion, of course, and not necessarily a statement of legal fact. Twitter began party-planning — and conservative media began protesting — nonetheless.
4. Muslims have not previously been banned from entering the United States. In the week since Trump announced that, as president, he would temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, two rumors have circulated about instances when the country purportedly enforced such a ban earlier in its history. One of these dates back to the early ’80s, when then-President Jimmy Carter invalidated visas granted to Iranians. The other claims that Islam has been banned in the U.S. since the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act.
While both of these events did happen — Carter did invalidate visas, and Congress did overhaul U.S. immigration policy in the 1950s — neither of those things, explicitly or implicitly, banned people from entering the U.S. on the basis of their religion. Carter’s visa restrictions were part of a package of sanctions against Iran, meant to bring a quicker end to the Iranian hostage crisis. Meanwhile, the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits people from coming to the U.S. who intend “to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States.” In other words, you can’t immigrate here if you’re planning to overthrow the government … which makes sense!
Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with religion, and the belief that it does stems from the (incorrect) impression that all Muslims in the U.S. are attempting to replace the current legal system with Sharia law. In fact, past studies from the Pew Research Center suggest that the vast majority of American Muslims are religious moderates: They believe in their religion, obviously, but don’t necessarily want to impose it on anyone else. In a 2011 Pew survey, only a third of Muslims indicated that Islam was the one true faith, and they staunchly opposed religious extremists. As my colleague Philip Bump debunks here, surveys that claim the opposite have used far less rigorous methodologies than Pew does.
5. There was not a pro-Islamic State rally in Dearborn, Mich. On Dec. 5, a Facebook user named Mickey Knox posted a photo that, he and others claimed, showed local Muslims rallying in support for ISIS outside of Detroit.
In fact, the picture shows the exact opposite: It was taken at the intersection of West Warren Avenue and Greenfield Road, two blocks away from the Islamic Educational Center that staged a pro-peace, anti-ISIS rally that day. In pictures posted to the Karabalaa Center’s Facebook page, marchers — many of them families, pushing strollers or walking kids — can be seen holding pro-peace signs and posing with smiling police officers. Click on Detroit, a local news outlet, reported that pictures from the rally had been “misrepresented” by “anti-Muslim agitators.”
6. Jimmy Carter did not credit marijuana for curing his cancer. While Carter did indeed announce that he’s cancer-free this week, he has surgery, radiation, and immunotherapy to thank for that — not, you know, weed. The claim that Carter was cured by his three-joint-a-day habit originated on the site Satira Tribune, which is … fake. Fun fact, though: Carter did call for the limited decriminalization of marijuana in a 1977 speech.
right as I turn 21 they change the drinking age to 23 FML— bre (@cannabreana) December 9, 2015
Did we miss any other notable fake stuff this week? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org — or stay tuned until next week, because surely some more shenanigans will go down in the meantime.
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