Q: Is the man who drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Hillary Clinton supporter, and funded by George Soros?
A: There is no evidence to support either claim. In fact, the driver is a registered Republican, and his former teacher said he supported Donald Trump during the presidential campaign.
Is this fact or fake? “Charlottesville Killer Was Hillary Supporter, Funded By Soros.”
A story circulating online claims — without any evidence — that James Alex Fields Jr., the driver in the fatal car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a Hillary Clinton supporter and affiliated with a group funded by liberal donor George Soros.
Fields was charged with multiple felonies, including second-degree murder, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and five counts of malicious wounding, after allegedly driving his car into a crowd protesting against white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. One person was killed in the crash, and at least 19 others were injured.
That morning, the New York Daily News photographed Fields standing with a group of similarly dressed men and carrying a shield with a logo of Vanguard America, a white supremacist group that participated in the “Unite the Right” rally. Vanguard America — which has denied that Fields is a member — “opposes multiculturalism and believes America is an exclusively white nation,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
However, a story credited to YourNewsWire.com (now NewsPunch.com) by multiple websites claims that the media are hiding the fact that Fields is really a liberal.
“The man accused of being a neo-Nazi and murdering a woman by deliberately driving into her during protests in Charlottesville is in reality a supporter of Hillary Clinton and member of Antifa in receipt of funding by George Soros, according to reports,” the story starts. “But the mainstream media is actively suppressing information that proves Fields is actually a left-wing operative at the heart of a false flag designed to spark civil war, introduce martial law, and take away the rights of conservative groups to assemble peacefully.”
But the story — which Facebook users flagged as potentially fabricated — only provides two unsupported tweets as evidence that Fields is a left-wing Clinton supporter. And the story provides no support at all for the claim that Soros “funds Antifa,” an antifascist group.
One tweet, from @rharrisonfries, says that Fields was a “Hillary supporter” and a member of “Antifa.” But when other Twitter users asked for a source, @rharrisonfries only replied with “public records” and “interviews” with “his friends.”
In fact, as we have written before, public records show that Fields is a registered Republican, according to BuzzFeed News, which cited Lucas County, Ohio, voter registration records as its source. We also found Fields listed as a registered Republican on another website that compiles public voter registration data.
In addition, Derek Weimer, who taught Fields during his junior and senior years at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky, told reporters for the Toledo Blade that Fields supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Toledo Blade, Aug. 13: Mr. Weimer said Mr. Fields left school for a while, and when he came back he was quieter about politics until his senior year, when politicians started to declare their candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. Mr. Weimer said Mr. Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be now-President Donald Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Mr. Fields, Mr. Weimer said.
The YourNewsWire.com story also claimed that Fields’ “affiliation to Clinton and the dangerous far-left is being actively suppressed” because “his social media accounts were put on lockdown and scrubbed of political content.” And a tweet from @JoeMiddleroad embedded in the story asked who deleted Fields’ Facebook and Twitter accounts after he was arrested. “REEKS of a setup/false flag,” he wrote.
A Facebook page appearing to belong to Fields “was deactivated around 11:30 p.m.” on Aug. 12, according to the New York Daily News. The article did not say who deactivated the account. However, screenshots of the page taken by BuzzFeed include images and memes indicating that Fields shared the political views of white supremacists.
“On a Facebook page that appears to belong to Fields, photos include memes embraced by the alt-right and some supporters of President Donald Trump, including Pepe the Frog and a portrait of a crowned [President Donald] Trump sitting on a throne,” BuzzFeed reported. “Other posts contain more overt references to Nazism and white supremacy, including a cover photo of soldiers with a US flag and swastikas, and a baby portrait of Adolf Hitler.”
The YourNewsWire.com story about Fields should not be confused with another one with the headline: “BRЕАKING: ЅUЅPЕCTЕD CHАRLОTTЕЅVILLЕ CАR АTTАCKЕR IЅ АNTI-TRUMP АNTIFA ЅUPPОRTЕR.”
That false report — which Facebook users also flagged as potentially fake — incorrectly identified a Michigan man as the Charlottesville driver.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
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Hensley, Nicole. “Charlottesville crash suspect James Fields brandished shield for Vanguard America hate group before attack.” New York Daily News. 13 Aug 2017.
Bromwich, Jonah Engel, and Blinder, Alan. “What We Know About James Alex Fields, Driver Charged in Charlottesville Killing.” New York Times. 13 Aug 2017.
Porter, Tom. “Who Are the White Nationalist Groups That Demonstrated in Charlottesville?” Newsweek. 13 Aug 2017.
Anti-Defamation League. “Vanguard America.” Accessed 22 2017.
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