In April, CNN published an exclusive report examining 2,319 text messages former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent and received detailing the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Keying off that report, some social media posts contain a purported text message exchange between Meadows and Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on a payment for ”coup buses.”
A Facebook post shared June 18 shows a screenshot of a tweet featuring the purported text message exchange between Meadows and Thomas. Attributing the text to a CNN “leak”, the exchange reads:
Ginni: Also Venmo request me for the coup buses BTW
Mark: What’s the email?
Ginni: [email protected]
“You cannot tell me Clarence didn’t know what was going on!!” concludes the screenshotted June 16 tweet, which amassed over 38,000 likes in less than a week.
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Similar posts with the purported exchange have spread on Facebook and Twitter.
But a CNN spokesperson said the outlet didn’t report on any such text exchange.
The purported text message exchange originates from a satirical article published in The New Yorker. Social media posts copied and pasted a snippet of the exchange and wrongly attributed it to CNN.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
CNN did not publish the purported text message exchange, Emily Kuhn, senior director of communications at CNN Digital Worldwide, told USA TODAY in an emailed statement.
The exchange originates from a satirical piece published in The New Yorker on June 16 titled “Almost-Believable Leaked Mark Meadows Texts.” The article references the CNN exclusive report on the texts and includes made-up exchanges between Meadows and several people, including Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, on events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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The article was posted in the section “Daily Shouts,” which is “The New Yorker’s regular dose of humor, satire, and funny observations.”
Social media posts included a snippet of the imaginary exchange between Meadows and Thomas from The New Yorker article and wrongly attributed it to CNN, leading some people to take the exchange as real.
This is an example of “stolen satire,” in which something published and labeled as satire is reposted in a way that makes it appear to be legitimate news. As a result, viewers of the second-generation post are misled, as was the case here.
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that CNN leaked texts between Thomas and Meadows on payment for ”coup buses.” The purported text messages in the Facebook post originate from a satirical article published in The New Yorker. CNN did not publish any such texts, a spokesperson for the news outlet said.
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