Facts matter: Christmas Day explosion in Nashville was not a missile strike

  • Debris remains on the sidewalks in front of buildings damaged in a Christmas Day vehicle explosion by a suicide bomber in Nashville, Tennessee. Social media posts and conspiracy theorists falsely claimed the explosion was a missile strike.

    Debris remains on the sidewalks in front of buildings damaged in a Christmas Day vehicle explosion by a suicide bomber in Nashville, Tennessee. Social media posts and conspiracy theorists falsely claimed the explosion was a missile strike. Associated Press Photo

 
 
Updated 1/2/2021 5:30 PM

A Christmas morning explosion in Nashville, Tennessee, left one man dead, three people injured, buildings damaged and widespread outages throughout the city. The dead man, according to police, is a suicide bomber who was killed in the blast.

But based on a grainy black-and-white video, recent Facebook posts claim the explosion was actually a missile strike. "You can see as there's a line flying in, there's a little bit of a glow and then there's the explosion," the video's narrator says.

 

There is no evidence to support this, according to PolitiFact.com. The clip posted to social media is security video that shows the outline of buildings in Nashville and smoke rising from the explosion, but there is no footage that shows a missile hitting the area.

A different conspiracy theory making the rounds on social media claims the target of the blast was the AT&T complex in downtown Nashville. This resulted from a report that AT&T was involved in an audit of Dominion voting machines and some of those machines were destroyed to cover up voter fraud.

"The explosion 'just happened' to be at the AT&T location where they 'just so happen' to control the cooling system for the super computer and house the dominion voting machines and drives for forensic audit," read one Facebook post.

"That is not true," AT&T associate vice president Jim Greer told PolitiFact.

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AT&T doesn't have a contract to audit the Dominion voting machines and none of Dominion's equipment was being stored at the Nashville complex, PolitiFact said.

Dominion not tied to Biden

Social media posts claiming voter fraud in the Nov. 3 general election have advanced the idea that President-elect Joe Biden is related to the owner of the company that produces the Dominion voting machines.

"Biden's sister is married to Stephen Owens, who owns Dominion Voting Systems," read a Facebook post. Another said, "Valerie Biden Owens (Joe's sister) is married to John Owens. His brother, Kevin Owens, is founder of Staple Street Investors, which owns Dominion Voting."

This is actually a case of unrelated people having the same last name, according to The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Stephen Owens is the co-founder of Staple Street Capital, a private equity firm that owns Dominion Voting Systems.

According to a 1975 wedding announcement, Biden's sister married a man named John Owens and his brother R. Kevin Owens stood in as best man, the AP said.

But Stephen Owens is not related to the Owenses who are related to Biden by marriage, a spokesperson for Staple Street Capital and Dominion told the AP.

A statement on Dominion's website says it is not associated with any political figures or governments and works to support a "nonpartisan approach."

McConnell didn't say that

A recent tweet claims Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will go to great lengths to make sure the Democrats fail.

"BREAKING NEWS. Dateline 12/25/20 Louisville. Kentucky Colonel and Senator, Mitch McConnell, in a small gathering of mega rich donors, reaffirmed his vow to block every bill from the Democrats," the post read. "'Even if I feel it's a good bill. They shall have no victories. None,' McConnell said."

But McConnell never said this and the originator of the post, @OctoberFerguson, later said the tweet was a "parody," according to Snopes.com.

The tweet was widely shared on Twitter and was promoted by the Republican group The Lincoln Project and by author Stephen King.

There are clues that the post is false, Snopes said, including no mention of when and where McConnell said this, no source of anyone who claimed to hear the comment, and it wasn't reported by any reputable news outlets.

Schiff and Pelosi not arrested

Internet posts this past week have falsely claimed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff were arrested on the days surrounding Christmas.

"Adam Schiff was taken from LAX international airport to the Los Angeles FBI building and has no (sic) exited since going in a little after 10:00 a.m. this morning, my FBI source is telling me," read a Dec. 24 Facebook post.

Another post said Pelosi was "intercepted by US Marshalls and arrested" after leaving the Capitol.

These posts are fake, according to USA Today. They are tied to a QAnon conspiracy theory that says prominent Democrats will be arrested "while President Donald Trump secretly saves the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals."

The source of the arrest claims appears to be lacountyarrestrecords.org, an unofficial site that claims to show "arrest records in LA" but also includes a disclaimer that the information is unofficial, USA Today said.

On Dec. 26, the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association tweeted a clarification about the arrests.

"Seems like another #PizzaGate," the tweet said. "No record of @RepAdamSchiff being arrested at @flyLAXairport by @LAAirportPD or @LAPDHQ. The picture you posted is not the official @LASDHQ Inmate Information Center website. Have a safe & blessed holiday. #FactsMatter."

• 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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