A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:
NOT REAL: Breaking: Paul Ryan Nominates Joel Osteen to Be New House Chaplain
THE FACTS: House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t nominated televangelist Joel Osteen to be the next House chaplain, contrary to a satirical posting circulating on the internet. Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong says the story “is not true.” Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for Osteen, calls it a “false rumor.” Osteen leads a Houston megachurch, which holds televised services in a 16,000-seat former basketball arena. The Rev. Patrick Conroy became the House’s chaplain in 2011. He offered his resignation last month at Ryan’s urging, but then withdrew it and won his job back Thursday. Conroy accused a Ryan aide of pressuring him to step down because of a prayer last year that was potentially critical of the GOP tax bill — something the aide denied. The chaplain serves a two-year term and is responsible for opening the House each day with a prayer and offering counseling to lawmakers and aides on the House side of the Capitol.
NOT REAL: Trump’s Trade Policy Caused A Harley Davidson Factory in Missouri to Fire Hundreds of Workers and Move to Thailand
THE FACTS: A Missouri Harley-Davidson Inc. plant closed to address a surplus in the U.S. market — not because of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the motorcycle maker says. A story on the website Second Nexus said Trump’s departure from the trade partnership caused a Harley Davidson plant in Missouri to close and move to Thailand. Harley-Davidson spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said the company’s decision to close the Kansas City plant “was based on our need to address excess capacity in the U.S.” The Milwaukee-based company reported an 8.5 percent drop in U.S. motorcycle sales last year.
NOT REAL: Maine: House Democrats Vote To Allow Female Genital Mutilation
THE FACTS: Maine lawmakers didn’t vote to allow female genital mutilation, despite reports circulating widely online. Several sites claimed Democrats in the Maine Legislature voted to allow the practice. Female genital mutilation is already outlawed in the U.S. and is punishable by up to five years in prison. But some Maine prosecutors have claimed it’s unclear that female genital mutilation also is illegal under state law. This year, some Democratic and Republican lawmakers pushed to pass harsher penalties in the state, but the effort died in the House over partisan disputes and concern that the legislation would be seen as targeting immigrants. A similar bill failed in 2017 by one vote.
NOT REAL: Michigan GOP tried to pass bill marking immigrants’ licenses with yellow stars
THE FACTS: Republican state lawmakers in Michigan didn’t try to mandate labeling immigrants’ driver’s licenses with yellow stars, contrary to a claim in a story circulating on several liberal-leaning sites. The sites included a meme with a photo of state GOP Rep. Triston Cole and said lawmakers had proposed imprinting yellow stars, suggesting a comparison between the effort and badges that Jewish people were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe. Michigan, along with other states, has a white star inside a gold circle marked on driver’s licenses to comply with the federal Real ID act, passed in 2005 to strengthen rules for identification at airports and federal facilities. The stars are issued on all government-issued IDs, regardless of citizenship status.
NOT REAL: ‘Smallville’ star confesses she sold children to Rothchilds and Clintons
THE FACTS: “Smallville” actor Allison Mack has been indicted on sex trafficking charges, but a story being shared online falsely connects the criminal case to Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Rothschild banking family. The article on nyeveningnews and other sites declares that Mack “confessed that she sold children to the Rothschilds and Clintons during her time in the child sex cult.” The story combines falsehoods with information from Mack’s actual legal case. Mack was charged last month after federal prosecutors in New York said she recruited women to a group led by Keith Raniere, who pitched himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars. Mack pleaded not guilty, is free on $5 million bond and under home detention in California. Raniere also is being held on trafficking charges, and his attorneys say he’s innocent. The story’s allegation of a Clinton connection is based on something that isn’t true. It claims that Seagram’s liquor fortune heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman, who are followers of Raniere, are members of Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, which requires a $15,000 membership fee. A spokesman for the foundation tells The Associated Press they haven’t donated any money or made a required “commitment to action” to the Global Initiative. Mack’s indictment and a press release from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York make no mention of the Clintons, the Rothschilds, or child victims.
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.