President Ronald Reagan

(AP Photo/White House/Susan Biddle)

NOT REAL NEWS: A Look At What Didn't Happen This Week

February 1, 2019

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:


CLAIM: "Mueller sent more armed FBI agents to arrest Roger Stone for NON VIOLENT charges than the military sent SEALS to get Osama bin Laden. Does that tell you how OUT OF CONTROL Mueller is." — post on Facebook.

THE FACTS: The claim, which circulated widely on Facebook with photos of longtime President Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone and special counsel Robert Mueller, tries to equate the pre-dawn arrest of Stone with the highly sophisticated secret military mission to apprehend Osama bin Laden. On Jan. 25, about 12 FBI agents arrested Stone in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to The Associated Press. In contrast, some 48 members of SEAL Team 6 participated in the raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan in 2011. According to the AP, two specially engineered Black Hawk helicopters carried "23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo" to the compound under the cover of darkness. Nineteen of those SEALS entered the compound. There also were another two dozen SEALs standing by aboard Chinook helicopters. Stone has been charged with lying to Congress, obstructing the House intelligence committee's Russia investigation and witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.


CLAIM: Photo purports to show newly-elected Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sitting in front of a painting of Osama bin Laden, along with an "Unfit to serve, impeach Trump" poster and an Islamic State flag.

THE FACTS: The photo circulating on social media has been altered. In the original photo, which Ocasio-Cortez posted on her Instagram account, there is no poster in the background, no painting of Osama bin Laden and no IS flag. The altered photo, which also distorts the women's faces, is one of the most recent false claims to circulate around the diverse group of women who were recently sworn into the 116th Congress. Omar and Tlaib, the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, have been frequent targets of misinformation on social media. The photo was taken on Nov. 12, 2018. Ocasio-Cortez captioned the photo, "Squad," and tagged the other three women. It was taken during a 2018 conference in Washington sponsored by VoteRunLead, an organization that offers campaign and leadership training to women.


CLAIM: "Ronald Reagan never took his jacket off in the Oval Office in eight years, why? Because of his respect and the dignity of the office."

THE FACTS: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made the false claim this week on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," while discussing his 2020 bid for president as an independent candidate. Former President Ronald Reagan did take his jacket off in the Oval Office while serving as president from 1981 to 1989. Among the National Archives photos that show him without a jacket, is one from 1987 where he is wearing a maroon polo shirt as he gives a radio address on international trade. Melissa Giller, spokeswoman for The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, told the AP that Reagan rarely took off his jacket in the Oval Office, but when he did it was usually during his weekend radio addresses.


This is part of The Associated Press' ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online.


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