A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Partisan Website Recycles Old Charges


Q: Has the “head” of the Democratic Party been “hauled out in handcuffs”?

A: No. A partisan website has used decade-old charges against an Alabama Democrat as clickbait.

FULL ANSWER

Charges brought against an Alabama Democrat a decade ago have resurfaced in a misleading story shared widely online.

The story was first published on June 12 on a website called Right Wing News with the headline: “Head Of Democratic Party Just Hauled Out In Handcuffs With Multiple Charges – Enjoy Life Behind Bars!” That site shared it on Facebook with a picture of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But the charges had nothing to do with Pelosi. They were brought against former Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley in 2007.

Several other sites copied the story or linked to a version with a robotic voice reading it on YouTube.

The story is misleading from the start — and not just because of the unrelated picture of Pelosi. It begins by saying: “The head of the Alabama Democratic Party found herself in very hot water just recently.”

But it wasn’t recent. More than 10 years ago, Worley was charged with violating state law when she sent a letter soliciting support from her employees for her bid for reelection as the secretary of state, according to court documents from the case. She was not reelected, and she ended up entering a “best interest” plea to one misdemeanor charge in 2012.

The following year, she became the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party in Alabama.

Parts of the Right Wing News story appear to be lifted from a report by the NBC affiliate in Montgomery, Alabama, that was posted shortly after the charges were filed in 2007. One sentence, for example, says, “She did not want to go on camera to respond to the accusations against her.”

The writer of the Right Wing News story, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, did not return a call for comment, and the phone number that Right Wing News gives on its Facebook page connects to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Updated, July 24: After we posted our story, Right Wing News changed its headline and parts of its story, which it agreed was “outdated & incorrect.” It also removed the Facebook post that showed an unrelated photo of Nancy Pelosi. The publication explains all the changes in an editor’s note at the end of its story.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.

Sources

Head Of Democratic Party Just Hauled Out In Handcuffs With Multiple Charges – Enjoy Life Behind Bars!” RWNofficial.com. 12 Jun 2018.

State of Alabama v. Nancy Lillian Worley. CR-06-1879. 27 May 2011.

Jones, Eileen. “Nancy Worley Indicted, Turns Herself In.” NBC 12, WSFA. 14 Mar 2007.

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Misleading
"Head Of Democratic Party Just Hauled Out In Handcuffs With Multiple Charges."
Tuesday, June 12, 2018