Not Real News: A Look At What Didn't Happen This Week

FILE - Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein waits to speak at a board of elections meeting at City Hall, in Philadelphia, Oct. 2, 2019.  On Friday, May 3, 2024, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming a clip shows Stein saying that “the Jewish people have a homeland in Poland” during an exchange with a man outside of Columbia University.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein waits to speak at a board of elections meeting at City Hall, in Philadelphia, Oct. 2, 2019. On Friday, May 3, 2024, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming a clip shows Stein saying that “the Jewish people have a homeland in Poland” during an exchange with a man outside of Columbia University.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
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A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out.


Video shows Robert De Niro rehearsing for a Netflix series, not yelling at anti-Israel protesters

CLAIM: Actor Robert De Niro was captured on video yelling at anti-Israel protesters in New York City.

THE FACTS: De Niro was rehearsing a scene for his upcoming Netflix series “Zero Day,” which was filming on a street in New York City, a Netflix spokesperson told The Associated Press. His comments are part of the script and had nothing to do with the Israel-Hamas war or protests around it.

False claims around the video began circulating online as police cracked down on college protests across the country.

One prominent version of the misrepresented video was labeled, “Robert De Niro Stands with Israel!” It showed the two-time Oscar winner speaking passionately in a crowd of people.

“This is not a movie,” De Niro says in the clip. “This is not a movie, this is real.”

He tells the crowd that they need to listen and let people get their jobs done. He encourages people to offer their support, but to stay behind barricades.

“You wanna keep talking nonsense then you gotta go home,” he says. He later adds: “They say they’re going to do it again! Again! We don’t want that.”

A caption added to the video makes it seem as though the “it” he is referring to is the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that sparked the current conflict. “They say they are going to do it again! (October 7),” it reads.

One X post that shared the erroneously captioned video states: “I’d like to thank the #ProHamas terrorist sympathizers for getting on everyone’s last nerve. Robert De Niro agrees and with his usual ‘flair’ admonishes them that they are marching for more #October7massacres and to ‘Go home!’”

The footage was also misrepresented in posts that suggested the video was shot at the University of California, Los Angeles, where “physical altercations” occurred between dueling factions of protesters this week. Posts referred to the alleged demonstrators as “anti-Israel” and “pro-Palestinian.”

But De Niro was not admonishing protesters, nor was he talking about real events. The actor was rehearsing a scene for “Zero Day,” an upcoming Netflix series in which he is starring. The series is described as a “conspiracy thriller.”

“This is a rehearsal for a scene for a Netflix series that was shot on Saturday, April 27,” the streaming company told the AP, referring to the video spreading online. “It was part of a production.”

Netflix further confirmed that De Niro’s speech was from the show’s script and unrelated to the demonstrations around the Israel-Hamas war. The company added that while production cameras weren’t rolling when the video was shot, filming did take place that day in New York.

A subway entrance can be clearly seen in the background of the video with a sign featuring a telephone number that has a New York area code.

Stan Rosenfield, a spokesperson for De Niro, called the social media claims “false” and confirmed that the video shows a scene from “Zero Day.”

Actor Jesse Plemons, who is starring alongside De Niro as his character’s assistant, can be seen standing behind De Niro in the video.


Posts misrepresent Green Party candidate’s comment on a Jewish homeland

CLAIM: A clip shows Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein saying that “the Jewish people have a homeland in Poland” during an exchange with a man outside of Columbia University.

THE FACTS: Social media posts misrepresented what Stein said about a Jewish homeland based on an autogenerated caption that accompanied an early video of her speaking at Columbia University on April 25. In the video, Stein says “the Jewish people have homeland” and does not mention the Eastern European country. But in the video, first posted to Stein’s social media accounts, the autogeneraged caption said “the Jewish people have Poland,” according to a spokesperson for the candidate.

Stein later posted another video of the exchange with the caption corrected. She further clarified her comment during an appearance in Columbia, Missouri, on Sunday.

The clip with the erroneous caption shows Stein, who is Jewish, outside an entrance to Columbia speaking against Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. After a man standing behind her, who identifies himself as Jewish, says that “the Jewish people have no homeland but Israel,” Stein turns to him and responds with a statement that is captioned as “Jewish people have Poland.”

“Jill Stein: ‘The Jewish People have a homeland in Poland,’” reads one X post that had received more than 6,100 likes and shares as of Friday. “Three million Polish Jews were murdered in the Holocaust at Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camps.”

But Stein did not say that Jews have a homeland in Poland. She told the man that “the Jewish people have homeland” without pointing to a specific place.

“As you can see in the video, Dr. Stein clearly says the word ‘homeland,’” Dave Schwab, a spokesperson for Stein, told The Associated Press in an email. “When the video was originally posted with autogenerated captions, the program erroneously rendered some text during the portion when a counterprotester was interrupting and trying to speak over her.

Poland had the largest number of Jews in Europe prior to World War II — more than 3 million. Their presence in the country went back more than 1,000 years, to Jews fleeing persecution in Western and Central Europe. Approximately 85% of Poland’s Jewish population was killed during the Holocaust. Survivors who returned after the war faced continued antisemitism. The Kielce pogrom of 1946, during which approximately 40 Jews were murdered, is one notable example.

Although there were periods in which Polish Jewry enjoyed tolerance, they also experienced significant persecution. In the 15th century, for instance, 100,000-200,000 Jews were massacred in what was then eastern Poland. There were frequent pogroms in Poland and other Eastern European countries starting in the 19th century that facilitated the rape and murder of Jews, as well as the looting of their property.

Protests over the Israel-Hamas war emerged on a number of campuses, including Columbia University, the University of Southern California, Harvard University, New York University, The Ohio State University, Emory University, the University of Michigan and Yale University.

The students are calling for the universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself.


Posts share fake New York Post story saying a bill would make it illegal to question 9/11

CLAIM: The New York Post published a story with the headline, “Congress to Vote on Bill That Would Criminalize Questioning the Events Surrounding 9/11.”

THE FACTS: No such article was published, a New York Post spokesperson told The Associated Press. An image made to look like a screenshot of a New York Post article was fabricated and shared on social media.

The fake image mimics how an article would look if viewed on the New York Post’s website from a mobile device. It includes the outlet’s logo, below which appears a series of social media icons. But it is also inconsistent with the appearance of actual New York Post stories.

For example, the text of the headline is centered, uses a different font and is capitalized in its entirety. There is also no tag above the headline indicating the article’s section.

“With strong support from AIPAC and the ADL, Congress is set to vote on a bill that would criminalize any questioning of the events that took place during the September 11th attacks,” reads text below a photo of the World Trade Center after a plane flew into each of the twin towers. The text adds that the bill includes penalties of up to $10,000 and five years in prison for anyone who “challenges the official narrative.”

One X post that shared the fabricated image states: “A law that breaks the first amendment? Orwellian.” It had received approximately 6,500 likes and more than 2,700 shares as of Friday.

Searches on the New York Post’s website show no record of such an article. Iva Benson, a spokesperson for the outlet, confirmed that the image spreading on social media is “fake” in an email to the AP.

It appears that the image was created using an actual New York Post story about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein being moved to Rikers Island after his 2020 New York rape conviction was overturned last week. Both the fake image and the real story say they were published on April 26 at 9:25 p.m.

Marshall Wittmann, a spokesperson for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the AP that AIPAC has “not supported any such legislation.” Anti-Defamation League spokesperson Todd Gutnick called the claims “a complete fraud.”

Congress is not considering a bill that would make it illegal to question the “official narrative” of 9/11. Current legislation related to the terrorist attacks include bills to provide the 9/11 Memorial Museum with a one-time grant and to limit the availability of plea deals for anyone responsible for the attacks.


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