GSAN: Out-of-context gas prices | Fake Fox News report


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Out-of-context gas prices | Fake Fox News report

Note: The News Literacy Project staff is off next Monday for the July 4 holiday. Get Smart About News will return on Tuesday, July 12.

Viral rumor rundown

‘Never forget January 6th’ memes use old photos of gas prices

A Facebook post that reads, “Oh yeah, January 6th, 2021…when Americans could still afford to get to work. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “PHOTO OF GAS PRICES IN 2015.”

NO: The photo of gas prices in this meme was not taken in January 2021. YES: It was posted to the photo sharing website flickr on January 22, 2015. YES: Gas prices were significantly lower (approximately $2.25 to $2.32 a gallon on average) in January 2021. YES: Prices in the spring and summer of 2022 have been unusually high due to a variety of factors. YES: At least one other meme featuring photos of low gas prices out of context has also circulated during the House select committee hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

NewsLit takeaway: Posts about high gas prices can spark quick, emotional responses and serve as an easy catalyst for partisan rancor — often directed at a sitting president. But as previous posts on this blog have pointed out, “presidents don’t actually have much effect on the prices.” In this case, gas prices were used to present a counter-narrative about the state of the nation on Jan. 6, 2021, while the House select committee hearing on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol brought renewed focus on the attack. Fact-checkers have documented two variations of this “never forget” meme, both of which use out-of-context photos of gas prices taken during former President Barack Obama’s second term.


Fox News did not report that gender-neutral pronouns are a “plot to undermine democracy”

A tweet that reads, “Happy they/them summer to my fellow deoedipianized theys only” and includes a screenshot of what appears to be a Fox News report with the headline “’They/them’ summer: a new far-left extremist plot to undermine American democracy” and the sub-headline “Experts warn that the ‘deoedipianized theys’ are a far greater threat than Islamic terrorists.” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “DOCTORED SCREENSHOT.”

NO: Fox News did not publish a news report characterizing people who embrace the gender-neutral pronouns “they/them” as extremists plotting to undermine American democracy. YES: A doctored screenshot of Fox News coverage is circulating online with a fabricated headline making this claim.

NewsLit takeaway: Altering text on screenshots of news coverage is extremely common online. In this case, the screenshot appears to be a doctored version of this Fox News report (archived here) with a date, time and byline that match up with those in the viral image. Remember that screenshots that aren't accompanied by links to the original source are always suspect, especially when they include controversial, shocking or outrageous claims.


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Your weekly issue of Get Smart About News is created by Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Hannah Covington (@HannahCov) and Pamela Brunskill (@PamelaBrunskill), and edited by Mary Kane (@marykkane).

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