Monday, May 18, 2015

Fact check: What Trent Franks did NOT say about the Pope and the poor

To start, let me advise my readers that I am no fan of Trent Franks. I think he is a perfect example of what is wrong in American politics. (Well, he may be beat out by Louie Gohmert!) I have no problem nailing this guy. But in doing so, we need to get our facts straight.

From snopes.com:

Did Rep. Trent Franks really say, on 05/13/2015, "I question if the pope understands scripture. He's obviously read it but it's just as obvious that he doesn't understand it. Nothing in the Bible obligates us to help the poor."

The short answer is "no." This is a quote circulating around the internet. Snopes picked it up from email and I've seen it posted on Facebook as a text-over on a head shot of Rep. Trent Franks (R, AZ) attributed to politico.com. I checked the politico.com report and there is nothing in it resembling that quote. Here's what snopes has to say.

Origins: On 15 May 2015, the entertainment-based Facebook group Stop the World, the Teabaggers Want Off posted a photograph of U.S. Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, appended with a quote attributed to the lawmaker. According to the page, The Republican Franks questioned whether Pope Francis was truly familiar with scripture, maintaining that "nothing in the Bible obligates us to help the poor":

The Facebook group in question (Stop The World, The Teabaggers Want Off) almost exclusively publishes fabricated quotes attributed to Conservative politicians and pundits. Previously, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson were targeted by the page with similar memes. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has also appeared in memes created by the page regarding white privilege, a purported endorsement of Benjamin Netanyahu, and a claim vaccinations lead to homosexuality.

Stop The World, The Teabaggers Want Off generally attributes its quoted content to a well-known source (in this instance, Politico), but the citations typically are bogus. A disclaimer found on the group's Facebook page states all posts are for entertainment purposes only:

This page is for entertainment purposes. It is NOT meant to be taken seriously. It is primarily satire and parody with a mix of political memes and messages.

Humorous memes are just one of several ways fake news and other shaky content spreads on the internet. Our article "Six Ways to Spot Fake News illustrates many of the ways to spot (and avoid sharing) seemingly credible links that are in actuality humor-based..

Here are links to the snopes six ways: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

But the simplest check is just doing a Google search on the internet, in this case for the Politico article. My search also brought up the snopes.com evaluation.

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