Facts Matter: Reagan didn't meet with Taliban; Disney didn't dismantle castle

  • Spires at Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom can't be removed in advance of hurricanes, despite a false rumor that has resurfaced periodically since at least 1997.

    Spires at Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom can't be removed in advance of hurricanes, despite a false rumor that has resurfaced periodically since at least 1997. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/14/2019 4:42 PM

A photo circulating on social media shows former President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office meeting with a group of men wearing turbans.

In a Twitter post that includes the photo, the caption reads, "NeverTrumpers, a president meeting with the Taliban, this is horrific!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A Facebook post of the photo falsely claims, "Ronald Reagan meets with the Taliban. 'These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America's Founding Fathers' -- Ronald Reagan, 1985."

The item is untrue on many levels, according to PolitiFact.com.

The Taliban didn't form until the mid 1990s, years after Reagan was out of office. The photo wasn't taken in 1985 and Reagan never compared the group to the Founding Fathers.

The photo is from a Feb. 2, 1983, meeting between the president and Afghan freedom fighters to discuss Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan, PolitiFact said.

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The quote was likely taken from a Reagan speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 1985, PolitiFact said.

Reagan was talking about Nicaraguan rebels when he said, "I've spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they're fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance."

The Twitter post, which showed up after President Donald Trump recently announced he had called off a scheduled meeting with the Taliban, has been shared more than 1,700 times, PolitiFact said.

Harris didn't sue Exxon as AG

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, during a recent climate town hall broadcast on CNN, told viewers she would fight big oil companies that "profit off of harmful behaviors."

Moderator Erin Burnett asked the California senator how she would fight.

"Would you sue them? Sue Exxon Mobil?" Burnett said.

Harris claimed, "I have sued Exxon Mobil."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That statement falls short of the truth, according to PolitiFact.com.

In 2016, when Harris was California's attorney general, her office investigated Exxon over allegations the organization lied about the risk to its business from climate change, PolitiFact said. But there is no public record and nothing her campaign could provide to show she filed a lawsuit.

"(Harris) launched an investigation into Exxon," campaign spokesman Ian Sams told PolitiFact.

In fact checks other media did on the subject, The New York Times said, "An investigation, yes. A lawsuit, no." CNN said, "Though Harris has sued other big oil companies, she has not sued ExxonMobil."

Castle not dismantled for hurricane

A photo showing the spires being removed from the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, has been shared hundreds of times on social media.

A caption with the photo reads, "BREAKING: Workers have begun removing spires of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom ahead of Hurricane Dorian."

The image has been flagged by Facebook as part of its effort to combat false news and misinformation, according to PolitiFact.com.

"It's just another iteration of a long-running hoax about Florida hurricanes," PolitiFact said.

In the false photo, a crane appears to be lifting a spire off its base and another spire is completely gone. However, in the original photo, the crane is in the same position while it was reportedly being used to remove holiday lights, PolitiFact said. Both spires are intact.

In the altered photo, it appears someone cloned the blue sky and placed it over part of one spire and completely removed the other spire from the picture.

Disney World told PolitiFact on Sept. 4 that the theme park would not dismantle the castle in preparation of Hurricane Dorian.

According to PolitiFact, Snopes.com debunked this story in October 2017, but the falsehood can be traced back as far as 1997 to a Chicago Tribune story headlined, "25 secrets of the Magic Kingdom," which aimed to dispel a rumor that the castle could be taken apart and said the castle is built to withstand hurricane winds.

• 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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