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Viral Quote Falsely Attributed to McCarthy


Quick Take

Social media posts erroneously attribute a quote to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. He didn’t say that “there are no mass shootings in Japan because there are no video games there.”


Full Story

In the days after the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, some politicians returned attention to the idea that violent video games may contribute to such attacks — which has not been established by research.

Notably, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” on Aug. 4 and discussed what he called “video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others.”

But McCarthy did not say in that interview that “[t]here are no mass shootings in Japan because there are no video games there.” And we found no instance of him saying it anywhere else.

That quotation has been erroneously attributed to McCarthy in viral social media posts that include a screenshot of McCarthy’s interview with Bartiromo.

It appears the false attribution stems from a misrepresentation of a tweet about McCarthy’s remarks.

The morning of McCarthy’s interview, Washington Post reporter David Weigel jokingly tweeted the line about Japan when sharing another user’s post about McCarthy’s comments. But Weigel’s tweet — which has been lifted verbatim by the bogus posts — did not claim that McCarthy actually said that.

“The tweet was obviously, obviously a deadpan joke,” Weigel told us in an email. “I never used quotation marks and I absolutely never would; those ‘parody’ tweets, in which people pretend to be famous people in order to get [retweets], are some of the worst stuff online.”

In his Fox News interview, McCarthy espoused the idea that video games may be at fault for such mass shootings, but he did not mention Japan.

But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others — I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others,” McCarthy said. “We’ve watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

As we’ve explained before, some studies have documented a link between violent video games and aggressive thoughts and behaviors. But that is not the same as establishing a link between video games and criminal violence, or more specifically mass shootings. (For more, see “The Facts on Media Violence.”)

Japan, where video games are popular and firearm laws are strict, reports a very low number of gun deaths. Mass killings there are also rare and have been carried out with knives or other weapons.

In 2017, violent deaths by firearms in Japan occurred at a rate of 0.037 per 100,000 people, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Violent deaths by firearms in the U.S., meanwhile, occurred at a rate of 4.43 per 100,000 people. (Those figures do not include accidental gun deaths or suicides by firearms.)

And estimates from a gaming analytics company suggest that — on a per-person basis — gamers in Japan spend more on video games than gamers in the U.S.

Newzoo estimated 2019 game revenues (which do not include hardware sales or online gambling) to be nearly $36.9 billion in the U.S. and $19 billion in Japan. The company told us in an email that the estimated number of players for 2019 is 164.3 million players in the U.S. and 65.2 million players in Japan. That works out to about $224 per player in the U.S. and $291 per player in Japan.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Elliott, Rhys. Spokesman, Newzoo. Email to FactCheck.org. 22 Aug 2019.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington. Global Burden of Disease | GBD Compare. Accessed 21 Aug 2019.

Kevin McCarthy touts first responders in El Paso shooting.” Fox News. YouTube. 4 Aug 2019.

Masters, Jonathan. “U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons.” Council on Foreign Relations. 6 Aug 2019.

Remarks by President Trump on the Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio.” White House. 5 Aug 2019.

Schipani, Vanessa. “The Facts on Media Violence.” FactCheck.org. 8 Mar 2018.

Top 10 Countries/Markets by Game Revenues.” New Zoo. June 2019.

Weigel, David. Email to FactCheck.org. 20 Aug 2019.