NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

FILE Over 1,500 immigrants came to City Hall to draw attention to racial inequities in the city's shelter and immigrant support systems in New York on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. On Friday, April 19, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming immigrants in the U.S. illegally on Tuesday stormed New York City Hall, demanding housing in luxury hotels rather than city shelters.(AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

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.



CLAIM: New York Judge Juan M. Merchan told former President Donald Trump on the first day of his hush money case that he can’t attend his son Barron’s May 17 high school graduation because he must be in court that day.

THE FACTS: Merchan said on Monday that he was not prepared to rule on a request that court be adjourned on May 17 so that Trump can attend the ceremony. He said his decision will depend on how the trial proceeds. Despite that, Trump said as he left court following the trial’s first day, “it looks like the judge will not let me go to the graduation of my son.” Moments later, he expressed displeasure because the trial made it so “that I can’t go to my son’s graduation” and a number of other events, including a U.S. Supreme Court hearing and campaign stops.

Trump then furthered his criticism of the judge on his Truth Social platform, writing in one post both that he “will likely not be allowed to attend” and that “the Judge, Juan Merchan, is preventing me from proudly attending my son’s Graduation.” He wrote in another post less than two hours later that he is “being prohibited from attending.”

Social media users quickly parroted Trump’s claims.

“Leftist NYC Judge won’t allow President Trump to attend Barron’s high school graduation,” reads one X post that had received approximately 23,000 likes and 11,200 shares as of Thursday. “This is going to backfire huge. The American people are sick of this Marxist tyranny.”

Some posts also said that Trump will be arrested if he attends the graduation anyway.

But Merchan has not yet ruled on the matter.

Trump’s lawyers requested on Monday that the trial not be held on May 17 so that the former president may be at the ceremony. A Trump lawyer also requested the trial not be held June 3 so that he can attend his own son’s graduation.

Merchan said he was not prepared to issue a decision on either request, but noted that if the trial proceeds as planned he’s willing to adjourn for one or both days. “It really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial,” he said.

The judge will require Trump to attend court in New York next Thursday, while the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about whether, as a former president, he is immune from prosecution in another of his four criminal cases. Trump is not required to be at the Supreme Court for the arguments.

Merchan read Trump his so-called “Parker warnings” on Monday, informing him that his right to be present at the trial could be revoked if he acted out and that he could be sent to jail for disruptive behavior. Trump said that he understood a warrant for his arrest will be issued if he deliberately fails to appear for the trial, according to a court transcript. This is standard criminal procedure law in New York.

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women.

Trump is facing charges in three other criminal cases, including two related to the 2020 election. He was ordered on Feb. 16 to pay $335 million in penalties in a civil case for a scheme to dupe banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements, a decision he is appealing.


CLAIM: Immigrants in the U.S. illegally on Tuesday stormed New York City Hall, demanding housing in luxury hotels rather than city shelters.

THE FACTS: Social media posts misrepresented the actions of the participants and the reason they had gathered at City Hall.

Hundreds of Black immigrants assembled peacefully in City Hall Park during a hearing about racial inequities in New York’s shelter and immigrant support systems. They gathered there after it became clear that only around 100 people would be allowed into the hearing, The Associated Press reported.

The New York Police Department told the AP that no arrests were made in relation to the gathering. Attendees said they came for a variety of reasons, such as to support City Council members at the hearing or to see if they could get information about jobs and housing.

Many shared videos from the gathering that showed large groups of people calmly standing, milling about or waiting in line. Other footage showed people cheering outside City Hall.

“Illegals have just swarmed NYC City Hall and have surrounded it,” reads one X post that had received approximately 32,000 likes and 20,600 shares as of Thursday. “They’re trying to occupy the building and are demanding luxury hotel rooms provided to illegals instead of the shelters that NYC has provided. This is only going to get worse.”

A caption on a TikTok video of people in line reads: “TODAY IN BIDEN’S AMERICA… illegals in NYC stormed City Hall because they are being moved into shelters and out of their luxury hotels.” It was viewed approximately 67,300 times.

But the gathering of more than 1,500 immigrants, mostly from Guinea, was peaceful and there was no indication they had arrived en masse at City Hall to demand luxury hotel accommodations.

They were at City Hall for a hearing held by the City Council’s Committee on Immigration to examine racial inequities in the city’s shelter and immigrant support systems. Relatively minor proposals were on the day’s agenda. For example, a set of bills that would require administrators to collect better data on migrants receiving city services, as well as a resolution for the federal government to eliminate or reimburse immigration application fees. Immigrants also testified about their own experiences.

A press conference was held on the steps of City Hall prior to the hearing. It featured speakers including Council Member Alexa Avilés, chair of the Committee on Immigration, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and representatives of advocacy and support groups.

Emmet Teran, a spokesperson for Avilés, told the AP that groups represented at the conference invited immigrants that they work with to attend, though other early arrivals were also allowed beyond security barriers. He added that another impromptu press conference was held for those who could not get in.

“It’s disgusting, but not surprising from the people that are saying these things,” Teran said of the claims spreading online. “I think we were very clear in our messaging about the hearing, about what we wanted to cover, which was the experiences of Black immigrants in New York City.”

Teran described the crowds as “incredibly calm” and said that people were understanding even though some were frustrated about waiting in line or not getting into the hearing. They assembled in City Hall Park after realizing that only about 100 people would be allowed into the hearing, the AP reported. Many attendees said they had learned about the event by word of mouth, often on WhatsApp groups with fellow immigrants.

An AP reporter present at the gathering observed that it was calm and orderly. When asked, immigrants were largely concerned about obtaining authorization to work in the U.S. Some also complained about lack of access to halal food in shelters. Others were worried about being evicted from shelters or had come to support City Council members.


CLAIM: World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab was recently admitted to the hospital in serious condition and might have died.

THE FACTS: Posts making these allegations began spreading widely after a website that says it publishes “satire, and comedic opinion pieces and editorials” posted an article about Schwab’s supposed hospitalization. A WEF spokesperson told The Associated Press that the claims are untrue.

“BREAKING: Klaus Schwab was apparently admitted to the hospital seriously ill,” reads one X post that had received approximately 26,000 likes and 9,000 shares as of Thursday. “Anyway, that doesn’t BUG me.”

The word “bug” appears to be emphasized in reference to another false claim, that the WEF wants to replace meat with bugs.

Other posts go a step further, stating that Schwab “may be dead.”

But the WEF founder is not deathly ill or worse, according to Yann Zopf, a spokesperson for the organization.

“These claims are entirely baseless and unfounded,” he wrote in an email to the AP. “Professor Schwab’s health is excellent. Like many high-profile individuals and organizations, he and the World Economic Forum have been targeted by conspiracy narratives, as well as misinformation and disinformation campaigns.”

The recent allegations began spreading widely after a website called the Weekly Crier on Sunday published an article titled, “World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab Hospitalized.” Weekly Crier says on its About Us page that in addition to “reliable and unbiased news and information,” it posts “satire, and comedic opinion pieces and editorials.”

The article on Schwab does not cite any sources, saying only that he was “reportedly admitted to the hospital late last night” and that other details “have not been officially disclosed.” It adds that “the WEF community, meanwhile, has been relatively quiet on the matter.”

Weekly Crier did not respond to a request for comment.

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