Facts Matter: Fake story claims Santa beat up child molester

A story recently posted to Facebook claiming a Wisconsin mall Santa Claus beat up a child molester is not only fake, it's been posted and debunked before, according to

The post from last month shows a photo of Santa being arrested, a blurry mug shot of another man and the headline of a fake story claiming Santa and his elves beat up a man after a child said her Christmas wish was for her stepfather to stop molesting her.

The author of the story, "Thug Muncher," should be a clue the article is a hoax, PolitiFact said.

According to the story, while Santa was working at the mall, a girl told him "her Christmas wish was for her stepdad to stop molesting her," PolitiFact reported.

This false narrative first appeared in December 2016 on the Thug Life website, PolitiFact said. That version had Santa in Milwaukee but, at the time, police there told The Associated Press they had no record of such an incident.

The photo of Santa Claus being arrested is from 2013 when protesters rallied outside a California Walmart, with Santa-suit guy among them, PolitiFact said. reported the mug shot is of a man charged with trespassing in 2012.

Photo from Warren supporter is doctored

A supporter of presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently tweeted: "Thank you for endorsing Elizabeth Warren" and added a photo of a woman holding a sign reading "African Americans with Warren," according to The Washington Post.

The photo was added by Warren fan @HelenManfred, an account with a small following, which retweeted a post by the Working Families Party, a group that has endorsed Warren. The post was mostly ignored, the Post said, until a backer of another candidate revealed the image had been manipulated and the woman in the original photo was actually holding a Black Lives Matter sign.

A supporter of presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris paired up the original photo with the doctored version and sent it to her 5,000 followers, the Post said. The images went viral, and in the past week criticism was heaped on the Warren campaign, which said it has tried to get the post taken down.

Did Trump open Apple manufacturing plant?

Speaking at a rally in Florida last week, President Donald Trump told the crowd, "I opened up an Apple computer plant" in Austin, Texas.

Not exactly.

While on a trip to Austin Nov. 20, the president visited a manufacturing plant that has been producing Apple's Mac Pro since 2013, The Associated Press said.

The company had been considering shifting the operation to China but announced in September that it would continue making the Mac Pro line in Austin after the Trump administration agreed to waive tariffs on certain computer parts made in China.

After obtaining the exemption, Apple announced plans for a new corporate campus in Austin, PolitiFact said. Construction began the day of Trump's visit but he did not visit the site, which will house engineering, research and development.

The day after his visit, Trump tweeted: "Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America."

Fox News still part of military programming

As Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman - European Affairs expert on the National Security Council - prepared to testify during the House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry, a false report circulated on social media claiming Fox News had been dropped from the Pentagon's American Forces Network.

Vindman had faced criticism from some Trump supporters for participating in the inquiry, and his lawyer has called for a retraction of a Fox News segment where a guest on Laura Ingraham's show suggested Vindman is a spy.

The rumor about Fox News was blowing up on Facebook even as Fox News was continuing to broadcast on the American Forces Network, previously know as the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, The Associated Press said.

"We have not canceled Fox News from American Forces Network programming, either on our radio or TV services," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Speaks told the AP.

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

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