Welcome to the second edition of “What was fake on the Internet this election,” a pop-up return of The Intersect’s debunking column, just for the 2016 elections.
This Friday, the fakery includes a staged YouTube prank, a repurposed comedy sketch, a photoshopped meme and Billy Graham.
1. A viral video does not show a “black mob” attacking a car with Trump stickers on it.
The stated premise of a recent video by YouTuber Joey Salads was this: Park a car covered in Trump stickers in a “black neighborhood” and film what happens next. You know, spontaneously. The resulting video, complete with on-camera destruction of the car, went viral on the conservative Internet. In a now-deleted story, World Net Daily said the video showed a “black mob” smashing up the car. The video eventually landed front and center on the Drudge Report with the huge headline “WATCH THEM SMASH ‘TRUMP CAR.’”
“As you can see from this video, the black community is very violent toward Trump and his supporters,” Salads told his viewers at the end of the video, which has since been set to private on his channel.
Why? Well, the video was staged, and we know this thanks to Twitter user @txorres, who recorded a video showing Joey Salads filming a portion of it. Nearby, watching Salads record his introduction, are the same actors seen in Salads’s video smashing up the car:
— XØ (@txorres) October 17, 2016
Salads later released a video in response, partially apologizing but claiming that his staged prank “does have some truth to it.”
2. Donald Trump did not buy two children
Some time in the past, Donald Trump participated in a comedy sketch where he buys a woman’s car and her kids because he was in a rush. A couple of days ago, someone took that sketch, and replaced the laugh track with audio from CNN discussing the Trump tape that The Washington Post obtained earlier this month. The re-uploaded version of the sketch comes complete with the CNN logo and is clearly supposed to look like something that aired on the cable channel as news.
It didn’t, as Snopes and many others noted. Based on its public shares on Facebook and the comments on the CNN-ized YouTube upload, the video was mainly shared among Trump supporters as a joke, complete with fake outrage, as a way to mock media coverage of the candidate. Some seemed to understand that the entire thing was faked, while others thought the footage was actual evidence that CNN had reported on an old comedy sketch — again, it wasn’t.
It also appears to have fooled at least a few people for real, so we’re including it on the list just in case.
3. Billy Graham did not issue a “STUNNING” statement about Donald Trump.
White evangelical voters, long a reliable base of support for Republican presidential candidates, are also poised to vote for Trump this November. But among evangelical leaders, there’s been more of a split about how to handle a presidential candidate whose behavior has hardly made him a model of Christian moral leadership. So maybe that’s why a false story about one of the best known and widely respected evangelical leaders, Billy Graham, issuing a “stunning” statement in support of Trump gained the traction it did this week. That claim apparently came from WorldPoliticus, and was shared widely in conservative Facebook circles.
Unfortunately, the article’s headline is wrong. The statement in question does exist, but it was Billy Graham’s son Franklin who said it. And while Franklin is certainly an influential evangelical figure in his own right, he’s not as influential as his dad and posts frequently about politics on social media. Billy Graham rarely appears or speaks in public these days.
Franklin Graham’s Facebook post, which was widely praised among evangelicals on Facebook, is basically an argument that the future of the Supreme Court should be the main concern of Christian voters in November. It’s not explicitly in support of Trump, but it would be fair to read the post as a way of justifying a vote for the Republican despite “his language or inexcusable behavior” in the past, as Graham wrote.
4. The Trump hotel in Las Vegas did not display a giant “Hillary For Prison 2016″ message during the debate.
— Elizabeth 3X™ (@MissLizzyNJ) October 19, 2016
The above tweet went viral during debate night on Wednesday, and some people believed it was a real thing that happened. It is not. The image is a photoshopped meme that has been around for a while and popular among Trump supporters. Here’s the same image, tweeted in 2015, for example. As BuzzFeed noted, the source image is a cropped version of the first Google image result for the Trump International in Las Vegas.
“What was fake on the Internet this election” will publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through at least the week of the elections, or until all of this stuff starts to taper off.