Facts Matter: Breaking news is not media manipulation

A Facebook post earlier this month shows two side-by-side copies of The Wall Street Journal with very different headlines and the claim, "Same paper, same dates, different markets. What did you just learn? Feeling manipulated yet?"

The two editions of the Journal are not media bias, however, but rather the case of a developing story, according to

Published Sept. 1, 2016, the editions each include a photo of then-presidential nominee Donald Trump shaking hands with then-Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. One version features the centerpiece headline, "Trump softens his tone," while the other reads, "Trump talks tough on wall." The photo is the same but the stories are different.

The two editions were printed at different times of the day to ensure they were delivered on time to various geographic areas, Colleen Schwartz, vice president of communications at The Wall Street Journal, told PolitiFact.

"This often means that the content is updated to reflect new reporting on news and events as they evolve," Schwartz said.

The story under the "Trump softens …" headline was written early in the day, following an Aug. 31, 2016, meeting between Trump and Nieto, according to PolitiFact. The meeting was reportedly subdued and at a joint news conference before he left Mexico, Trump said they didn't discuss who would pay for his proposed border wall.

Later that day, at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz., Trump changed his tone after Nieto reportedly said on Twitter he told Trump Mexico would not pay for the wall, PolitiFact said. Trump reiterated his tough stance on immigration and insisted Mexico would pay for the border wall, necessitating a revised story and headline.

The different versions of the paper feature different stories because the news was developing throughout the day, PolitiFact said. The Wall Street Journal labels its editions by the number of stars in the top right corner. The newspaper on the left of the photo has two stars and came out earlier in the day, while the paper on the right displays four stars and was published later in the day.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook's effort to combat false news and misinformation.

Party didn't return funds to O'Rourke

Recent false social media posts claim Texas politician Beto O'Rourke gave $4.5 million, left over from his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, to the Democratic Party and the funds were returned to him when he launched his presidential campaign, according to The Associated Press.

O'Rourke did give that amount to the Texas Democrats before the midterm elections, but the party spent it before O'Rourke began his presidential campaign, AP said.

A Texas Democratic Party spokesman told AP the group has not donated to O'Rourke's presidential campaign.

O'Rourke said he received $6.1 million in online donations within 24 hours after entering the race, according to AP.

His U.S. Senate campaign fund made several donations to the state party, totaling $4.5 million.

The Texas Democratic Party spent more than $8.1 million from October 2018 to the end of the year, leaving the party with just $264,164 in February, AP said.

Muslims are OK with you decorating for Easter

A meme recently posted on Facebook claims, "Muslims in California are asking people to not decorate for Easter or Christmas this year out of respect."

There is no evidence California Muslims made this request and the meme is just a "social media-fueled rumor," according to

This type of meme, including bold type and patterned backgrounds, can be easily created by Facebook users, Snopes said.

The claim Muslims want to influence Christian feast days usually shows up around Christmas, Snopes said, but this one likely includes Easter due to the upcoming holiday.

Trump's 'lowest in history' claim outdated

Throughout 2018, President Donald Trump claimed unemployment for African Americans is at the "lowest rate ever recorded."

And in May 2018, it was, according to The Washington Post. That month, the rate dropped to 5.9 percent, the lowest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to report it in 1972.

During an interview this month, the president said African Americans are experiencing "the lowest (unemployment rate) in the history of our country … the best numbers they've ever had."

However, in February the unemployment rate for African Americans had jumped to 7 percent, nearly twice the 3.8 percent national jobless rate, the Post said.

The "history" Trump is referring to only goes back to 1972, when the bureau began keeping those statistics, the Post said.

A different set of Labor Department data that goes back to 1947 shows the unemployment rate for "Negro and other races" as low as 4.5 percent in 1953.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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