False memes follow plea, conviction of Trump associates

  • A fraud conviction for Paul Manafort, left, and a guilty plea from Michael Cohen were the focus of false social media memes about Fox News' coverage of the news.

    A fraud conviction for Paul Manafort, left, and a guilty plea from Michael Cohen were the focus of false social media memes about Fox News' coverage of the news. Associated Press

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, and his wife Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, appear together on June 5, 2012, at Buckingham Palace.

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, and his wife Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, appear together on June 5, 2012, at Buckingham Palace. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/25/2018 6:33 PM

On a whirlwind news day when President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to tax fraud and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted, several memes surfaced on social media misstating how Fox News covered the events.

One example, according to Snopes.com, claimed Fox was focusing on the "War on Christmas" as others reported the blockbuster news. The social media post included a screen shot of a Fox News Alert showing political commentator Tomi Lahren claiming "Obama created Festivus to destroy Christmas." The reference to Festivus, an alternative holiday created on the sitcom "Seinfeld," had been digitally added to an actual screenshot of Lahren, Snopes.com reported.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Snopes.com said some accounts were accurate in pointing out "striking differences" in Fox News' coverage of the events compared to other news media.

But another misleading Twitter post listed numerous news alerts focusing on Manafort's conviction on eight counts of financial crimes as Fox News posted "Judge declares mistrial on 10 counts in Manafort fraud case." Snopes.com pointed out the post failed to note Fox News' earlier post about Manafort's conviction on eight counts.

Rauner ad misstates tax plan ...

A TV ad for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner claims Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Mike Madigan want to "increase tax rates another 26 percent."

But Pritzker hasn't released a specific tax plan, The Associated Press points out.

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The figure came from a bill that failed to pass this year that proposed such a tax increase for anyone making more than $15,000 a year, AP said.

A spokesman for Rauner's campaign said the figure was touted in the ad because it's the only tax plan Democrats have made public. But Pritzker is not in the legislature, and Rauner's campaign could not give evidence of Pritzker voicing support for the bill. During a March interview, Pritzker called an accusation that his tax plan would be similar to that bill "false," AP said.

The ad also says Madigan "just raised your taxes 32 percent." The legislature did increase income tax rates from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent -- a 32 percent change in the rate.

... and Pritzker misstates immigration profit

Pritzker's camp put out an ad last month claiming Rauner profited from Trump's now-abandoned policy separating immigrant children from parents at the border, according to the AP. The ad said Rauner is an owner of a company that has been paid "millions to help keep children separated from their parents."

The story is based on Rauner's investments in Correct Care Solutions, which provides health care to prisons and juvenile detention centers, AP said. A Correct Care Solutions spokeswoman told AP the company does not hold contracts with any facilities that house separated children.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There is no evidence Rauner profited from the president's "zero tolerance" immigration policies, AP said.

Royal rules

A recent report widely shared on social media said Queen Elizabeth II plans to pass over her son and declare her grandson as England's next king.

She couldn't even if she wanted to, according to AP.

The false stories claimed the queen would name popular Prince William to the role, skipping over William's father, Prince Charles, who is the heir. Prince William's wife Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, would be named queen consort, the stories claimed.

However, the line of succession is determined by centuries-old rules, AP said. If Queen Elizabeth wanted to change the rules, she would require approval from lawmakers in Britain and 15 other countries where the British monarch is head of state, AP said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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