Fake News Friday: A look at what didn’t happen this week

In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the historical site of the Giza Pyramids in Giza, near Cairo, Egypt. On March 22, 2019, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that designer Tom Ford said, "I have no interest in dressing a glorified escort who steals speeches and has bad taste in men," in referring to Trump, are untrue. | Associated Press photo by Carolyn Kaster, St. George News

(AP) — The following is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online and work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

This brief roundup offers 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.


NOT REAL: Tom Ford refuses to dress Melania Trump: “I have no interest in dressing a glorified escort who steals speeches and has bad taste in men.” -tweets

THE FACTS: Designer Tom Ford did not make that statement. The fabricated quote was trending Tuesday on Twitter and was shared widely, including from the account of rapper 50 Cent, who has 10 million followers.

A spokeswoman for Tom Ford released a statement on Twitter saying, “This is an absolutely fabricated and completely fake quote that somehow went viral. Mr. Ford did not make this statement; it is completely false.”

The company confirmed that statement in an email to the AP. The false claim also circulated online in 2016. Ford did say during an appearance on “The View” that year – shortly after Donald Trump was elected president – that he had been asked to dress Melania Trump before she became first lady and he declined.

“She’s not necessarily my image,” he said. Ford also noted he is a Democrat, voted for Hillary Clinton and was disappointed she didn’t win. But Ford added that he didn’t think either of the women should wear his clothes because he thinks they need to be relatable to the public and his clothes are “too expensive.”

– Associated Press writer Chloe Kim in Washington reported this item.


NOT REAL: Beto O’Rourke gave a remaining $4.5 million from his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign to Texas Democrats, and the party returned it to him on the day he announced his presidential campaign.

In this March 21, 2019, file photo, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke addresses a gathering during a campaign stop at a restaurant in Manchester, N.H. | Associated Press photo by Charles Krupa, St. George News

THE FACTS: The Texas Democratic Party did not give $4.5 million to O’Rourke’s presidential campaign as social media posts suggest. O’Rourke did give that amount from his Senate campaign to the party ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, but the party spent it before he launched his presidential campaign.

O’Rourke’s announcement that he had raised $6.1 million online 24 hours after entering the race led to social media posts questioning whether the amount showed he had grassroots support. The issue was raised in a tweet by a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who noted that O’Rourke had not released information on individual donors.

According to a review of federal campaign data, O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate campaign fund made several donations totaling $4.5 million to the state’s Democratic Party in September and October. The state party spent more than $8.1 million between Oct. 1 and the end of the year, leaving the party with only $264,164 at the end of February. O’Rourke launched his campaign March 14.

The Associated Press reported that O’Rourke said his first-day $6.1 million in donations came from 128,000-plus contributions. Sanders also raised about $6 million for his presidential campaign in the first 24 hours, which he said came from 225,000 donors. In an email, a Texas Democratic party spokesman confirmed the state party has not donated to O’Rourke’s presidential campaign.

– Associated Press writers Beatrice Dupuy in New York and Amanda Seitz in Chicago reported this item.


NOT REAL: Speaking of Beto O’ Rourke, a photo of a nearly nude person with words written on body is said to be Democratic presidential hopeful O’Rourke.

THE FACTS: A photo of a person with words such as “feminist,” ”naturist” and “atheist” written on their body is not O’Rourke, despite posts that circulated widely on social media after he announced his run for president on March 14.

The person in the photo is wearing red lipstick, a flower in their hair and a leaf-adorned thong. The caption reads: “REMIND EVERYONE OF THIS PIC WHEN THIS FOOL SAYS HE IS GONNA RUN FOR PRESIDENT. THIS IS ROBERT O’ROURKE (beto).”

The photo, which can be found in Getty Images archives, was taken during a gay pride parade in Athens, Greece, on Jun. 11, 2016, according to its caption information. The photographer, Giorgos Georgiou, told the AP that the person in the photo is a “well-known Greek citizen” named Jason-Antigone Dane.

Dane was featured in a 2017 article from the Athens Voice titled “Jason-Antigone talks about how to be a non-binary person in Athens.” Chris Evans, O’Rourke’s communications director, confirmed that “the photo is not of Beto.”

– Associated Press writer Chloe Kim reported this item from Washington.


Find all AP Fact Checks here.

Written by The Associated Press.

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