Facts Matter: No, Michelle Obama is not running for president

  • A photo posted on former President Barack Obama's POTUS44 Twitter account is a frequent fake news target, with the T-shirt altered to carry fake messages about ISIS, transgender rights, equality marches and President Donald Trump.

    A photo posted on former President Barack Obama's POTUS44 Twitter account is a frequent fake news target, with the T-shirt altered to carry fake messages about ISIS, transgender rights, equality marches and President Donald Trump.

 
 
Updated 10/6/2018 5:44 PM

An image making the rounds on social media appears to show Michelle Obama planning a run for office in 2020.

The photo shows the former first lady making a heart symbol with her hands next to former President Barack Obama, who is holding a black T-shirt that reads, "Michelle Obama 2020," according to PolitiFact.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The image was altered and the assertion is false, PolitiFact says.

"I don't want to be president. I don't think I should be president. I think I can do a lot of things, but that's not one of them," Michelle Obama said in April, according to PolitiFact.

The post, which has been shared more than 163,000 times, was flagged by Facebook in an effort to combat false news and misinformation, PolitiFact said.

The photo, minus the doctored T-shirt, originally was part of a Twitter post by Barack Obama in 2015, according to PolitiFact. The president was actually holding a white T-shirt that displayed the message "Hate Won't Win," in response to a deadly shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The post, from Barack Obama's @POTUS44 Twitter account, said, "So inspired by the grace shown by the Simmons family and all the victims' families in Charleston. #HateWontWin."

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Wording on T-shirts is one of the easiest and most common targets of digital manipulators, according to Snopes.com. The image of the Obamas has been altered previously, with the T-shirt carrying fake messages about ISIS, transgender rights, equality marches, and both promoting and deriding President Donald Trump.

Fake photo shows Trump rescuing flood victim

During a visit last month after Hurricane Florence, Trump helped distribute meals to North Carolina residents, according to The Washington Post.

But he did not jump into a raft to rescue a stranded flood victim in the days after Hurricane Harvey in Texas in August 2017.

An online photo depicting the president in a rescue boat, wearing a suit and tie, without a life vest, reaching out to a man stranded in floodwaters has been digitally altered, according to Snopes.com.

The original photo, without Trump, was actually taken in 2015 during flooding in central Texas, Snopes said. It shows three rescuers from the Austin Fire Department reaching out to a man clinging to a chain-link fence. In a video of the incident, rescuers struggle to reach the victim but eventually pull him into the boat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Presidents generally do not take part in rescue operations after disasters, Snopes said.

False story claims mom killed pedophile

A fake report recently circulated online claiming a woman in Morgantown, West Virginia, killed a "notorious pedophile" who was trying to rape her 12-year-old daughter, according to The Associated Press.

The fake report claimed a 42-year-old woman shot a man in the head with a shotgun after she found him struggling with her daughter, the AP said. The report said the sex offender, 53, was found dead by police.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston told the AP the story is false, the photo accompanying the report shows a police car with an expired license plate and the vehicle's number "has been out of service for several years."

Photo not professor Ford

A Republican Party county chairman recently shared an image of a young woman wearing braces and large glasses and falsely claimed the photo was professor Christine Blasey Ford, according to PolitiFact.com.

Lanny Lancaster, Cabarrus County GOP chairman in North Carolina, captioned the post, "This is the alleged sexual assault victim, Wow," PolitiFact said. The photo, originally posted on a Facebook account, had been shared more than 12,000 times and received nearly 800 comments.

But the photo is not a young Ford, her legal team told PolitiFact. The picture can be traced back to a Daily Mail article in 2012 but did not include a name. The first claim that the photo is Ford appeared on Oct. 1, PolitiFact said.

Ford testified during a hearing that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were teens.

Statement attributed to Clinton is satire

A story that claimed former President Bill Clinton said a man accused of sexual misconduct should be banned from public service was published by a satirical website, according to Snopes.com.

The satirical story on the Babylon Bee website says Clinton told MSNBC, "Allegations of sexual misconduct should disqualify a man from public office."

This is not a statement made by Clinton, Snopes said.

The Babylon Bee does not publish factual stories, Snopes said. A disclaimer on their site reads, "The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire."

• 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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