Facts Matter: Cop's claim he was insulted goes viral. He made it up.

Updated 1/4/2020 6:56 PM

Herington, Kansas, Police Chief Brian Hornaday last week admitted one of his officers made up a story about a McDonald's employee serving coffee that had "(expletive) pig" written on the cup, according to The Washington Post.

The viral story followed a situation in Oklahoma in which a Starbucks employee was fired for writing "pig" on a drink order for a police officer, the Post said.


Hornaday had lashed out on Facebook after the McDonald's in nearby Junction City, where the officer said he found the slur on his cup, offered a free lunch to the officer.

"No thank you. A Big Mac and large fries doesn't make up for it. Please share!" Hornaday wrote in a post that included the restaurant's address.

An investigation by McDonald's and the police department quickly showed the officer, who had only been on the force for two months, had made up the story, the Post said. The officer, whom Hornaday didn't name, resigned.

Two days after the officer's fake report, Hornaday deleted his Facebook post and held a news conference.

"This was completely and solely fabricated by a Herington police officer who is no longer employed by our agency," Hornaday said.

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Hornaday said the officer, who had joined the department after serving as an Army military police soldier, meant to make a "joke" that Hornaday said got "out of control very, very quickly."

The Junction City McDonald's received threats after the false story was reported, the Post said.

Tlaib wasn't celebrating impeachment

A 2018 photo showing U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan celebrating was reused recently to make it appear the congresswoman was happy about the impeachment of Donald Trump, according to The Associated Press. The House of Representatives had just voted to impeach the president.

The cropped image of Tlaib was posted on Facebook with the caption, "It was a somber time for the Democrats as they voted to impeach the President. (This is how much they h@te you)."

The photo was taken Nov. 30, 2018, by Getty Images photographer Win McNamee while the representative was at orientation following her election to the House, the AP said. Tlaib was holding a piece of paper with the number eight as new members of Congress were picking numbers to establish the order for choosing available congressional offices.


Minecraft, not 'Mein Kampf'

A video making the rounds on social media shows a French grandfather mistakenly giving his grandson a copy of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" after the child had asked for the video game Minecraft.

Although the viral video had some believing it was real, the footage was created by comedian Yann Stotz, according to Snopes.com. The post received more than 5.5 million views during the few days around Christmas.

Stotz originally posted the staged comedy bit on his Instagram account, Snopes said. It spread to Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter without crediting Stotz.

It was shared "without crediting me and without the "Yann Stotz -- humorist" link that gave the video context: the problem is that people took it seriously, and it made my family look like something it is not," Stotz told French news organization 20 Minutes, according to Snopes.

Stutz told 20 Minutes he first had the idea for the sketch after he gave his godchild a copy of Minecraft and noticed the similarity to the name of Hitler's book. But the piece was not intended as a hoax.

"Of course it is a fake," he told 20 Minutes. "But there was no intention to deceive, otherwise I would have posted an advertisement for my show."

Tom Cruise isn't running for president

A video circulating on social media appears to be actor Tom Cruise running through an open area as he explains his accomplishment and announces his candidacy for president.

But the movie star is not running for political office in 2020 and the person in the video is not Cruise, according to Snopes.com.

The post was originally shared on Twitter in August by Miles Fisher, a Tom Cruise look-alike who made the film and released it with the question, "What if Tom Cruise ran for president," Snopes said.

A mock website Fisher created for the Cruise 2020 campaign said America deserves "a president with perfect hair, who rides a motorcycle, and knows how to throw grenades ... with his teeth."

Fisher parodied Cruise in the 2008 comedy "Superhero Movie," Snopes 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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