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Fake News: Grassley Did NOT Vow To Imprison False Kavanaugh Accusers -- YourNewsWire Quietly Changes Headline

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:44:46 Z)

Did Senator Chuck Grassley "vow to imprison" anybody falsely accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? No, that's not true. Infamous fake news website YourNewsWire made the claim in a headline and then later changed "imprison" to "prosecute" but evidence of the change remains visible in the URL of the story and in an archived version (along with several partially plagiarised copies of the article). It is not true.

The story originated from an article published by YourNewsWire on September 30, 2018 titled "Grassley Vows To Imprison False Kavanaugh Accusers" (archived here) which opened:

Senator Chuck Grassley has vowed to prosecute anybody falsely accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to the fullest extent of the law.

On Monday, Jeff Catalan of Newport, RI called Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's office with dubious "allegations concerning a rape on a boat in August of 1985," according to a transcript of the call.

Zero Hedge reports: Catalan claimed that in 1985, "a close acquaintance of the constituent was sexually assaulted by two heavily inebriated men she referred to at the time as Brett and Mark," reported CNN, citing the transcript and noting that the incident reportedly took place on a boat in Newport harbor.

Screenshot of https://yournewswire.com/grassley-imprison-false-kavanaugh-accusers/

Users on social media initially only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Grassley Vows To Imprison False Kavanaugh Accusers

'It is illegal to make materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to Congressional investigators,' Grassley warned

By now that has changed to this, even though the an archived version using "imprison" is still available here:

Grassley Vows To Prosecute False Kavanaugh Accuser

Senator Chuck Grassley has vowed to prosecute anybody falsely accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to the fullest extent of the law. On Monday, Jeff Catalan of Newport, RI called Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse's office with dubious "allegations concerning a rape on a boat in August of 1985," according to a transcript of the call.

The URL of the story (currently "https://yournewswire.com/grassley-imprison-false-kavanaugh-accusers/") also still says "imprison".

The entire article is built around the letter mentioned in this tweet from the Senate Judiciary Committee in which Senator Grassley asks the Justice Department and the FBI to look into claims that people have provided fabricated allegations to the committee:

Asking for an investigation is not the same as "vowing to prosecute" and it definitely is a long way from "vowing to imprison".

It is unclear what prompted YourNewsWire to change their headline (and without adding a notice to the article that anything changed) but we suspect it might be the fear of being labeled "false" by the fact checkers in Facebook's fact checking partnership which have caused the reach of the site to plummet in recent months.

The change happened well after publication so several sites aggregating or plagiarizing content from YourNewsWire are still sporting the "imprison" headline, for example this automatically generated YouTube video:

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

THE PEOPLE'S VOICE, INC. AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes yournewswire.com as:

A news and conspiracy website that regularly publishes false information and far-right conspiracy theories.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about yournewswire.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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