Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Online satire once again is mistaken for the truth

The statement

School children can earn higher grades by studying Islam under a new "nationwide Muslim outreach program" announced by President Barack Obama.

Bloggers, Dec. 7, in viral posts on the Internet

The ruling

Here's some of the text that usually accompanies the claim:

"At a press conference today, President Obama announced plans for the first ever federally funded Muslim outreach program. The program will be available nationwide for all elementary school students grade K-12 beginning February 1st, 2014. The program is designed to educate children about the fundamentals of the Muslim religion and Islamic belief.

"President Obama spoke with reporters to explain why it is so important that these outreach programs exist. 'The Muslim community deserves our full understanding and respect,' Obama said. 'We have killed millions of Muslims overseas since the September 11th attacks. These folks are not all bad. In fact, most of them are hard-working citizens just like you and me. I encourage every student in America to participate in your school's Muslim outreach program. Learn about the Muslim community, the beauty of the Sunnah and the magic of the Qur'an.' "

The item cited "35-year-old Paul Horner, a teacher at Starks Elementary School in Louisiana," who purportedly told MSNBC that he is "excited about the new program," because "if Becky has a D+ in math she can take a three week after-school class on the Qur'an and would then have an A in Math. That's a win-win for everyone!"

It closed by urging any parents of students who "would like to volunteer and teach the Muslim religion" to "call the Nationwide Muslim Youth Outreach hotline at (202) 863-8500."

This all sounded fishy to us, so we checked with the White House, which confirmed that no such press conference happened. Nor was there any such program.

We also rooted around the Internet and discovered that a portion of the text originated with an "article" in the National Report, a satire website, but it was substantially rewritten. Not only was the topic somewhat different, but the quote from "Horner" was added, among other things. (The website of Starks High School in Starks, La., — which includes students from K-12 — does not include any staff member by that name.)

This is only the latest example of satire passed off as truth on the Internet.

In addition, the phone number listed as being for the "Nationwide Muslim Youth Outreach hotline" was actually the phone number of the Republican National Committee. RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski confirmed that the RNC had nothing to do with the piece.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

Louis Jacobson, Times staff writer

Edited for print. For the full version, go to PolitiFact.com.

Online satire once again is mistaken for the truth 12/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.