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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Mexico Did NOT Agree to Pay for Trump's Psychiatric Care

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:01:38 Z)

Did Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto offer to pay for psychiatric care for President Donald Trump instead of paying for Trumps border wall? No, that was not a real news story, it was a satirical piece which at least some people took to be actual news but it is false.

The story originated on The Borowitz Report (a part of the site of The New Yorker) where an article appeared on April 5, 2018 titled "Mexico Agrees to Pay for Trump's Psychiatric Care" (archived here) which opened:

MEXICO CITY (The Borowitz Report)--Hoping to resolve the seemingly intractable conflict over immigration, Mexico surprised the world on Thursday by agreeing to pay for Donald J. Trump's psychiatric care.

Speaking to reporters, the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, said that he had authorized funding for the psychiatry and proclaimed, "Work on Donald Trump could begin tomorrow."

Peña Nieto displayed several photographs showing prototypes of therapists, including a bearded Freudian analyst whom he said came highly recommended.

Screenshot of https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/mexico-agrees-to-pay-for-trumps-psychiatric-care

People who sincerely believe Trump is crazy and who saw this summary on social media could be forgiven for thinking the news is real especially given the newyorker.com domain name:

Mexico Agrees to Pay for Trump's Psychiatric Care

While some Mexican taxpayers argued that a full course of treatment could cost more than a border wall, the Mexican President warned against skimping on such a necessary expense.

But the story actually appeared in the satire column of The New Yorker ("The Borowitz Report" by Andy Borowitz) which was acquired in 2012 by the magazine. Although the section with the columns and all the articles in it are clearly marked as satire the stories frequently get confused for real news by people who only see the title and summary on social media and who assume it must be real because the link goes to the actual website of The New Yorker. To them it would look somewhat like this, with an easy to miss "Not the news" being the only indication it is not real:

In part to combat this the main page of The Borowitz Report comes with a clear heading that simply states:

Satire from the Borowitz Report


To be safe, whenever you see a link that goes to any article on the "newyorker.com" website, always check if the rest of the link says "/humor/borowitz-report/" somewhere. If it does, don't believe a thing you read...

We wrote about Borowitz's satire on newyorker.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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