Facts Matter: How false claim of dead people voting gained steam

  • President Donald Trump walking out to speak in the Brady Briefing Room in the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington. Walking behind Trump is Vice President Mike Pence.

    President Donald Trump walking out to speak in the Brady Briefing Room in the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington. Walking behind Trump is Vice President Mike Pence. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/28/2020 6:42 PM

President Donald Trump's campaign posted a news release on Nov. 11 containing the obituaries of Georgia residents and claiming votes were cast in their names.

The obits were real, but the claim that they voted is false, according to The Associated Press.

 

The Trump campaign news release and Facebook post read: "Mr. James Blalock of Covington, Georgia, a World War II veteran, voted in the election. The only problem? He passed away 14 years ago, in January 2006. Sadly, Mr. Blalock is a victim of voter fraud."

Blalock, whose name was purged from the state record after his death in 2006, did not vote, Newton County election officials told the AP. His widow, who votes under the name Mrs. James E. Blalock, Jr., did cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election.

Linda Kesler, who died in 2003, and Deborah Jean Christiansen, who died in 2019, were also falsely listed by Trump's campaign as voters this year. Both women are marked as deceased on the official record and did not show up at the polls, officials told the AP. A Lynda Kesler, who has a different address and birthday than Linda, and a Deborah Jean Christiansen, same name but different birthday and Social Security number, did vote.

The fake information was shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media. Following the Trump campaign claim, Fox News host Tucker Carlson did a segment on the false accusations, saying "what we're about to tell you is accurate" and "we can prove it." Trump then shared Carlson's segment on Twitter, gaining more than 47,000 retweets.

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Carlson issued an on-air apology two days later for falsely claiming the deceased Blalock voted.

Carlson's initial story remains on Fox News' website under the headline, "Yes, dead people voted in this election and Democrats helped make it happen." The video segment is below the headline, and Carlson's statement is in smaller type below that.

In it he says "we regret not catching" the false information but he repeats the unsubstantiated claim that dead people voted.

Trump not moving out of White House, yet

A video making the rounds on social media shows the president speaking outside of the White House as movers behind him load a truck with his possessions.

"Movers carry out Trump belongings from the White House as he still complains about the election," one Instagram user wrote.

The video is satire, although some people did not realize it was a joke, according to PolitiFact.com.

The fake video, produced by Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show, uses a clip from September 2019 in which Trump was speaking about impeachment, not the election. The footage was then altered to include laughter and the background clip of workers loading a truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The satirical video was posted on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" social media accounts and included an ABC watermark in the corner. In some cases the watermark was cropped off when the video was shared.

Facebook flagged the post as false news and misinformation.

Fake Obama video circulating online

A four-minute fake video containing altered clips and misinformation about former President Barack Obama has been "spreading widely on Facebook," according to PolitiFact.com.

The video opens with a manipulated cover of Time magazine showing Obama under the headlines "Time is up" and "Treason." It also displays the partial headline, "How former president Barack Obama was the kingpin of the biggest political scandal in modern…," before it is cut off.

Other altered or false images in the video include: Obama standing next to Osama bin Laden while wearing a turban, Russian President Vladimir Putin pulling on Obama's tie and Obama kissing former Britain Prime Minister David Cameron.

A section later in the video shows Obama with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The clip was altered to make it falsely appear that Clinton says, "Trump is sending us all to Gitmo for life." Bush says, "Let's plan another mass shooting," to which Obama responds, "We can't, all the restaurants and theaters are closed."

Biden didn't go maskless for birthday

President-elect Joe Biden celebrated his 78th birthday earlier this month. While sending him good wishes, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms posted a video of her and Biden celebrating, but not wearing face masks.

The image didn't go unnoticed on social media and some users criticized the video.

"This is our government having a birthday party today for Joe Biden," one user said on Twitter. "They're telling us to social distance and wear mask! But as you can see ... they're not! It's all lies to control us!"

But the video isn't from this year, according to Snopes.com. It's from 2019, before there was a threat of coronavirus in the United States.

About an hour after her birthday tweet, Bottoms posted a clarification, "Pre-Covid! This was in the @TPStudios White House following the @DNC @msnbc debate on 11/20/19."

• 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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