Editor’s note: This is 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:
CLAIM: The young man pictured in photos with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Trump impeachment inquiry.
THE FACTS: The man in the photo is Alex Soros, son of billionaire philanthropist George Soros. He is not the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sparked impeachment proceedings. Posts with the false identification spread widely on Facebook and Twitter as public impeachment hearings began Wednesday. Rep. Steve King of Iowa amplified the false claim Thursday, tweeting the photos with the comment: “Adam Schiff said, “I do not know the identity of the whistleblower.” @RepAdamSchiff here are four strong clues.” King’s tweet was taken down Thursday after receiving more than 1,000 likes. He did not respond to requests for comment. The photos were taken from Alex Soros’ Instagram and Twitter accounts. Alex and his father have been the target of conservative attacks for their ties to the Democratic party and liberal causes. Alex Soros serves as deputy chairman of the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization founded by his father. “Rep. King is circulating false information,” the Open Society Foundations said in a statement Thursday. “He is not the whistleblower, and any attempt to identify the whistleblower is a violation of protections put in place to help people in government root out waste, fraud and abuse.”
CLAIM: Video shows sanitation trucks surrounding Madison Square in New York to protect Trump from booing protesters.
THE FACTS: Sanitation trucks were lined up strategically around Madison Square Park when President Donald Trump spoke at the launch of the New York City Veterans Day Tribute on Nov. 11, but they were there for security purposes, a common occurrence at events that draw large crowds. “Trash trucks surrounding Trump in Madison Square to protect him from the booing is the perfect metaphor,” stated a tweet with the video of the event, which was viewed more than 600,000 times. Officials with the New York City Police Department and the Department of Sanitation confirmed to The Associated Press that sanitation trucks are often used for security at big events, including the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. The trucks are used as “part of our counterterrorism overlay, not unique to this visit,” Lt. Eugene Whyte, of the NYPD’s public information office, told the AP.
CLAIM: The city of Dallas opened a convention center for people seeking shelter from the cold and then police arrested people with unpaid tickets who tried to enter.
THE FACTS: The Dallas Police Department told the AP that no arrests were made for parking tickets or non-violent offenses. A cold front swept through Texas on Monday sending temperatures plummeting into the 20s. Due to the cold weather, Dallas officials opened the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center for those seeking shelter. The Dallas Police Department offered security Monday night at the shelter. “To ensure the safety of all individuals, each person was notified upon entering the shelter that they were subject to checks for registered sex offenders,” the police department said in a statement. “In addition, if an individual had active warrants for sex offenses, serious felonies, and violent crimes they were subject to arrest.” The department made 11 arrests that night on outstanding warrants for crimes including sexual assault of a child. “No one was arrested for unpaid parking tickets,” the statement said. “That claim is not true.” Anastasia Reed, senior public affairs officer for the city, also confirmed in an email that individuals with minor, nonviolent and non-felony warrants were permitted to stay overnight. Police officers also conducted checks on Tuesday night.