A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Answering NFL National Anthem Questions

Q: Does the NFL have rules for player conduct during the national anthem? Does the Department of Defense fund patriotic ceremonies at NFL games?

A: Prior to May 2018, the league didn’t require players to stand during the anthem. The Defense Department no longer funds various patriotic displays.

False Headline on HIV Blood Donation

Q: Will California allow HIV-positive people to donate blood?

A: No. The Legislature has passed a bill that would reduce the penalties for those, including blood donors, who knowingly expose others to the HIV virus.

Obama Didn’t Pardon Wendell Callahan

Q: Did former President Barack Obama pardon Wendell Callahan, who was later accused of killing three people after his early release?

A:  No. Congress unanimously passed a bill changing drug sentencing laws and Obama signed it. Callahan petitioned for early release under the new law and it was approved by a federal judge.  

Counterprotesters Paid in Charlottesville?

Q: Is a Craigslist ad proof that counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally were “paid to make chaos”?

A: No. The ad called for “actors and photographers” in Charlotte, North Carolina, not Charlottesville, Virginia, where the rally took place.

Charlottesville Stand-Down Order?

Q: Were the police in Charlottesville, Virginia, told to “stand down” to allow the violent clashes that occurred on Aug. 12?
A: The police chief, mayor and city spokeswoman say there is no truth to that claim. Others have criticized what they describe as slow police action.

Was Driver Acting in Self-Defense?

Q: Does a video corroborate a belief by Charlottesville police officers that the driver in the fatal car attack at a white nationalist rally “was not acting maliciously”?

A: No. Police have charged James Alex Fields Jr. with multiple offenses, including second-degree murder and “aggravated malicious wounding.”

Charlottesville Driver Mix-up

Q: Did the man who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, meet with former President Obama in the White House?

A: No. A satirical website confuses the driver with the organizer of the rally, who is rumored to have been a past Obama supporter.

Earth Won’t Go Dark for Days

Q: Did NASA confirm that there will be 15 days of darkness on Earth in November?

A: No. Variations of that false claim have been circulating since at least 2015.

Invented Malia Obama Stories

Q: Was Malia Obama fired from an internship for smoking marijuana? Was she arrested for buying marijuana in Chicago?

A: No. Those spoof stories were made up to troll conservative readers.

Trump Didn’t Ignore Disabled Child

Q: Did President Donald Trump ignore a disabled child who tried to shake his hand?

A: No. A viral video clip omitted Trump’s earlier interaction with the boy.