Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Covington Catholic Teen Nicholas Sandmann NOT Hospitalized After Being Jumped In A Mall

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 28 Jan 2019 09:01:24 Z)

Was Covington Catholic high school student Nicholas Sandmann jumped by several attackers in a mall and did he end up hospitalized? No, that's not true, the story was made up by a "fauxtire" site that invents stories for entertainment purposes, often aimed at diverse urban audiences that don't always realize the stories are fake.

The story originated from an article published by Huzlers on January 28, 2019 titled "Covington Catholic Teen Nicholas Sandmann Reportedly Hospitalized After Being Jumped In A Mall" (archived here) which opened:

PARK HILLS, KY - After a group of Kentucky high school students were caught on video in what appeared to be taunting Nathan Phillips, a native american war veteran while singing/playing traditional native music with a drum; the main perpetrator, Nicholas Sandmann, the man who was shown face to face with Phillips, was reportedly beat by a group of 10+ people in a nearby mall.

Sunday morning, police were called on reports of a fight inside the mall, When police arrived hey found Nicholas Sandmann "half-dead" inside the malls Vineyard Vines store. Authorities say Sandmann was initially not responsive but later responded after they mentioned the border wall being built, in which he barely found the strength to ask "Is it built yet?".

Screenshot of http://www.huzlers.com/covington-catholic-teen-nicholas-sandmann-reportedly-hospitalized-after-being-jumped-in-a-mall/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so it would not be clear the story did not come from a legitimate news website:

Covington Catholic Teen Nicholas Sandmann Reportedly Hospitalized After Being Jumped In A Mall

PARK HILLS, KY - After a group of Kentucky high school students were caught on video in what appeared to be taunting Nathan Phillips, a native american war veteran while singing/playing traditional native music with a drum; the main perpetrator, Nicholas Sandmann, the man who was shown face to face with Phillips, was reportedly beat ...

Huzlers styles itself as a "fauxtire" website and carries a disclaimer at the bottom of each page:

Huzlers.com is the most infamous fauxtire & satire entertainment website in the world. If it's trending on social media you'll find it here!

An additional hint the story was false was this run-on sentence (including the misspelling of "minorities"):

Ironically, all authorities on the scene including police and medics were minority's, to which they took their time in taking Sandmann to the ER, reportedly stopping by a Buffalo Wild Wings to eat before finally checking Sandmann in the ER.

According to Splinter News the site is run by Pablo Reyes and David Martinez and according to Buzzfeed Reyes is involved with several other fake news websites. They tend to shy away from political stories, opting instead to write for a more "urban" audience, with stories about rappers, criminals and celebrities.

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

A self-described satire website that publishes false stories on urban culture and celebrities that have often been mistaken for real news.

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

We wrote about huzlers.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

About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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