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 them out. Here are the real facts:
CLAIM: Dr. Michael Baden, 85, the pathologist who investigated the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., performed Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy.
THE FACTS: Epstein’s lawyers asked Baden, a well-known pathologist, to attend the autopsy. He did not perform it. Reports circulated Thursday on Facebook and Twitter suggesting that Baden was chosen to do the autopsy as part of a cover-up to protect important people who have been tied to Epstein, among them President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton.
New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson performed the autopsy Sunday on Epstein, who died Saturday from an apparent suicide, the AP reported. Epstein was found early Saturday in a Manhattan jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Sampson said it is routine for private pathologists to observe an autopsy.
CLAIM: A graphic video shows the aftermath of a recent Indian attack on Kashmiris seeking independence from India.
THE FACTS: The video is not recent. It shows an explosion that followed a gunfight between Indian police and suspected rebels in Kashmir on Oct. 21, 2018. According to AP reporting at the time, six civilians were killed in the explosion, which occurred as residents attempted to extinguish a fire at a house targeted during the clash.
Video from the deadly 2018 explosion in the Kulgam district of Kashmir began circulating on Twitter following the recent government crackdown on residents in India-administered Kashmir. On Aug. 5, India revoked a constitutional article of the Muslim-majority region, taking away Kashmir’s 70-year autonomy. One Twitter user posted the 2018 video on Aug. 10, falsely stating: “Modi’s ethnic cleansing of Muslims has started in J&K (Jammu and Kashmir).”
The video had over 33,000 views, and 2,000 retweets by midweek. Both India and Pakistan consider Kashmir theirs and have fought two deadly wars over the region. For decades, rebels in Kashmir have been fighting against New Delhi’s rule. New Delhi’s move sparked protests in Kashmir and tightened security on the region.
CLAIM: Video shows officers spraying fake blood on themselves, proof that a Philadelphia shooting that left six officers injured Wednesday was staged.
THE FACTS: The erroneous claim is paired with a 15-second video clip taken from news footage that aired on WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, an ABC affiliate, during a standoff between police and a gunman on Wednesday. A review of the fuller version of the footage shows that the officer is bleeding as he runs toward a police car. Six officers were shot and injured in the standoff that lasted 7 ½ hours, according to AP.
The news footage from WPVI’s live coverage includes an anchor’s description of the officer’s injuries as seen from a helicopter. There is no audio paired with the false claim online. “You can see blood coming from his arm and his leg,” the WPVI-TV reporter says. “He is running to a waiting police cruiser with his officer, his colleagues right around him.” The Philadelphia Police Department told the AP in emails that the officer was bleeding from a gunshot wound and that his blood fell onto the ground.
“This is outrageous,” the department said in response to questions about the video and false claim. In the falsely captioned video, a person stands in front of their television pointing at two officers on the screen as one jumps into a police car with blood running down his arm. The logo for 6abc Action News, is visible in the clip. The video with the false claim was viewed thousands of times on Facebook and YouTube. None of the officers involved in the shooting sustained life-threatening injuries, the AP reported. Police had initially went to the scene to execute a drug warrant.
CLAIM: Fox News has announced former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile will replace host Tucker Carlson on his prime-time show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
THE FACTS: Fox News has not tapped Brazile to replace Carlson on his show, a spokesperson for the TV network confirmed. Posts and videos circulating on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook wrongly stated that Fox News gave Carlson’s prime-time spot on the network to Brazile. Carlson announced on his Aug. 7 show that he would take a break from his broadcast hosting duties for a vacation to fish with his son until Monday, Aug. 19.
At the time, Carlson explained to viewers that Fox News contributors Brian Kilmeade, Mark Steyn and Tammy Bruce would fill in for him. Brazile did not appear as the host for Tucker Carlson Tonight in Carlson’s absence, video clips of the show confirm. Fox News hired Brazile as a commentator in March. She has been a guest host for other Fox News shows, including “The Five.”
CLAIM: Video shows hundreds of dead salmon floating in an Alaska bay, killed by warmer temperatures.
THE FACTS: The dead salmon seen in the video resulted from a harvesting accident, and did not die due to warmer temperatures. A 15-second video of the fish was posted on Facebook on Aug. 10 with a caption suggesting that warmer than average weather in Alaska had caused the deaths.
Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, which runs the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery, said 700-1,200 pink salmon were lost or suffocated in Tutka Bay when a net snagged and ripped during a commercial seining operation on July 28. The video with the false caption, which received millions of views online, shows a yellow kayak passing hundreds of dead pink salmon floating in the water.
The video with the false caption circulated amid news reports detailing suspected salmon deaths due to July’s record high temperatures in Alaska.
Associated Press writers Beatrice Dupuy and Arijeta Lajka in New York, and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
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