Facts matter: New York County official, not Mike Pence, hit with water balloon

A video purportedly showing former Vice President Mike Pence being assaulted by a water balloon while participating in a parade has been circulating on social media.

"Watch Mike Pence get smacked in the head by a water balloon!" reads the caption over a video of a white-haired man getting hit with the balloon.

But that's not Pence, according to Reuters.

The video actually shows Nassau County, New York, Executive Bruce Blakeman. In the clip, many people in the crowd are hurling water balloons at those in the parade and a young girl throws a balloon that hits Blakeman in the back of his head.

Blakeman posted the video on his Twitter account with the header, "The @Mets and @Yankees could certainly use her!"

On Blakeman's Facebook account, he also posted the video, with the comment, "The water balloons and soaker guns are a long tradition at the Stewart Manor parade. Please do not be offended. All those who march, including me, do so at their peril and are fair game. I had fun even if I got a little wet!"

Pandemic didn't target different races

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a recent video, claimed COVID-19 targeted different ethnic groups, citing Caucasians and Blacks, and that Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people were the "most immune." He made the remarks during a July 11 dinner in New York City.

But there is no evidence to support this, according to PolitiFact. The majority of disparities in infection are a result of social, economic and health inequities.

In a published paper, Samantha Artiga, vice president and director of KFF's Racial Equity and Health Policy Program, said people of color were more likely to be uninsured and faced barriers to getting public health care.

"These underlying disparities put people of color at increased risk for exposure to the virus, experiencing serious illness if they are infected, and facing barriers to accessing testing and treatment," she said.

Biden didn't sleep through meeting

President Joe Biden, earlier this month, hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the White House.

Some social media users are sharing a clip of the meeting along with the claim that Biden nodded off.

"WAKE UP, JOE. What kind of world leader falls asleep while in a meeting?" reads an Instagram post showing a short clip of the July 18 event.

But this claim is false, according to PolitiFact. The brief video, without audio, is taken out of context.

The full video broadcast by C-SPAN shows Biden was looking down at his notes, which were sitting on his lap. He was speaking to Herzog throughout the meeting and was only looking down as he referenced his notes.

In the select clip posted on Instagram, Biden's lips are moving because he is talking.

Snapping turtle didn't decapitate human

A Facebook post earlier this month, shared more than 14,000 times, claims officials at Purdue University in Indiana said a snapping turtle killed a person. "Forensic scientists at Purdue University announced today that the decapitated human remains discovered in Lake Monroe last week appear to have been the result of a gruesome attack by a giant snapping turtle, potentially the largest ever recorded," the post stated. It went on to cite university biologist Dr. Eric Paddlejack.

But this post is fake, according to USA Today. This story didn't come out of Purdue and there is no professor named Dr. Eric Paddlejack who works there, University spokesperson Tim Doty told USA Today.

Snapping turtles have been known to decapitate other turtles but they are normally not aggressive toward humans.

Monroe County Coroner Joani Stalcup told USA Today there was no truth to this claim.

"There have been no remains found, no giant snapping turtle found and I am only assuming someone wanted to get their 10 (minutes) of Facebook fame by making up such a story," Stalcup said.

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

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