Facts Matter: Group distributes fake edition of Washington Post

  • A fake edition of The Washington Post was distributed Wednesday on the streets of Washington, D.C.

    A fake edition of The Washington Post was distributed Wednesday on the streets of Washington, D.C. The Washington Post

Updated 1/19/2019 7:48 PM

The banner headline, "Unpresidented," was splashed across the front page of a fake newspaper made to look like The Washington Post, according to the real Washington Post.

The print paper, handed out Wednesday in Washington, D.C., but carrying the date May 1, 2019, had a lead story claiming President Donald Trump had written a resignation letter on a napkin, left it in the Oval Office and had taken off for Yalta, a resort city on the Crimean Peninsula. His departure was prompted by massive women-led protests across the country.


The fake newspaper and accompanying website were produced by a group called the Yes Men, described as a "trickster activist collective," the Post said.

A statement released by The Washington Post said, "There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown D.C., and we are aware of a website attempting to mimic The Post's. They are not Post products, and we are looking into this."

Jacques Servin, one of the founders of Yes Men, told the Post the newspaper was meant to provide ideas for the "grass-roots movement" to support the impeachment of Trump. "The idea was a newspaper from the future and how we got there -- like a road map for activists," he said.

Servin said the fake digital site and 25,000 copies of the print paper cost the group nearly $40,000, offset by $36,000 raised from the organization's mailing list, the Post said.

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Yes Men, which Servin said practices "clowny activism," created a fake copy of The New York Times in 2008, following the election of President Barack Obama, according to the Post.

Former first mother-in-law not receiving pension

A story making the internet rounds claims Barack Obama's mother-in-law will receive a $160,000 lifetime government pension for the time she spent taking care of granddaughters Malia and Sasha.

The story is false, according to The Associated Press. Michelle's mother, Marian Robinson, would not qualify for benefits because she was never employed by the federal government.

The article was originally published by satirical website The Boston Tribune, AP reported on Jan. 14, 2017. The story said "First Grandma" Robinson would collect the pension for being a "full-time/in-home caregiver" to the Obama children.


According to the story, Robinson qualified under the Civil Service Retirement Act, but that plan was replaced in 1987 by the Federal Employees Retirement System, AP said. And both plans require employment by the federal government.

Robinson moved into the White House with her daughter and son-in-law in 2009 and often cared for the children, AP said. She previously worked as a bank secretary and stay-at-home mother in Chicago.

The story was picked up by other websites and portrayed as credible, AP said.

Mislabeled border wall photo has been around for years

An image posted on Facebook shows a large barricade and claims it is a border fence built by Mexico on the country's border with Guatemala in order "to keep out freeloaders."

"Shouldn't the United States have the same right as Mexico to protect its border?" the post asks.

The photo is actually a fence along Israel's border with Egypt, according to global news agency AFP. The picture was taken on Feb. 15, 2012, by AFP photographer Ahmad Gharabli, showing Egyptian border guards watching as Israeli guards supervised construction of the barrier.

The recent post has been shared more than 1,900 times since December, AFP said. However, the same meme has been making the rounds on social media sites dating back to 2016.

Images of border fences are often used out of context on social media, according to the News Literacy Project, which featured the meme in the latest edition of its newsletter, The Sift.

Steering wheel bumps not meant for blind drivers

A meme circulating this month on social media appears to be posted by users who just discovered small dots on a car's steering wheel are to aid visually impaired drivers.

The post shows an image of a steering wheel with raised dots, accompanied by the caption, "Just realised (sic) that these little bumps on the steering wheel are in Braille so that blind drivers have no trouble finding the horn to alert other drivers when necessary."

The fake meme is an old joke that has been online for years, according to Snopes.com.

The raised dots in the photo do not resemble any letters or words in the Braille alphabet, Snopes said, let alone spell out the word "horn."

• 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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