Top 10 Most Bizarre Viral Hoaxes of 2019

Covington (ka_ya11 / Instagram)
ka_ya11/Instagram

The year 2019 saw its fair share of viral hoaxes and the spread of false information — just as the previous year had seen.

Take a look at some of the most bizarre hoaxes to have surfaced in 2019, capturing the attention of millions and further sowing division among Americans.

1. Mainstream media falsely reports conservatives are “outraged” over a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) dancing.

By the first week of January, the hoaxes of 2019 had already kicked off, with the mainstream media reporting — without any evidence — that conservatives had become “outraged” over a video of socialist Rep. Ocasio-Cortez dancing in high school. Despite never being given examples of a conservative doing anything more than shrugging the video off, the mainstream media ran with the narrative anyway, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to post another video of herself dancing in front of her congressional office, tweeting: “I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous. Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too!”

2. BuzzFeed falsely reports that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress in his testimony.

By mid January, BuzzFeed falsely reported that Michael Cohen had told Special Counsel Robert Mueller President Trump personally instructed him to lie to Congress. The report — which cited two unidentified law enforcement officials — was quickly debunked by the special counsel itself, as a spokesperson for Mueller’s office released a statement, clarifying that “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office” regarding Cohen’s testimony “are not accurate.”

Fortunately for the media company, they were able to catch a break, because just a few days later another hoax had surfaced to dominate the news cycle and direct the public’s attention away from BuzzFeed…

3. Covington Catholic High School students were falsely accused of harassing a Native American man by the mainstream media, Hollywood, rookie politicians, (and more).

A group of students from Convington Catholic High School found themselves suddenly being subjected to an onslaught of threats, as well as defamation by celebrities, media outlets, and individual journalists after one student, Nick Sandmann, was seen smiling in a MAGA hat while he and his classmates were being harassed by Black Hebrew Israelites and a Native American man named Nathan Phillips who confronted Sandmann while banging on a drum.

The Covington hoax ended up being multi-pronged, spurring a series of additional hoaxes as the left appeared desperate to find something — anything — to peg these particular high school students as racists. Before you knew it, virtually the entire school was being accused of wearing blackface, and the basketball team was falsely accused of using a “Nazi sign” — but the most prominent hoax to have spawned from the Covington incident had to do with Nathan Phillips himself…

4. Media falsely claims Nathan Phillips served in Vietnam.

Nathan Phillips, the Native American man at the center of the Covington controversy, is not a Vietnam veteran — as his military records show that he did not actually serve in Vietnam — despite numerous accounts in the media saying he did. Even NBC’s Savannah Guthrie was caught spreading fake news with Phillips about his Vietnam claims by misleading Today Show viewers about how he portrayed his service record.

5. “This is MAGA country!”

Just one week after the mainstream media fostered the false narrative surrounding the Covington students, members of Hollywood, as well as establishment media journalists and pundits, moved on to their next hoax by uncritically accepting and promoting an elaborate “hate crime” story by Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men in Chicago who put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” as they left.

Later, two Empire extras and brothers of Nigerian descent, “Abel” and “Ola” Osundairo, were detained, as it was discovered that they were likely paid to stage the attack on Smollett, propelling the now-infamous “This is MAGA country” hoax into existence.

6. Mainstream media were caught promoting the Russia collusion hoax for years.

Once the Department of Justice announced that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found no evidence of collusion between any American and the Russian government in attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, CNN lost nearly 50 percent of its prime-time audience, with MSNBC down nearly 30 percent, amid the realization that the mainstream media had been pushing a Russia collusion hoax onto the public for multiple years.

7. Georgia state representative Erica Thomas falsely claims a “white man” told her to “go back where she came from” in a Publix grocery store.

In June, state representative Erica Thomas posted to social media that a “white man” told her to “go back to where she came from.” The mainstream media promptly reacted by blaming President Trump for the alleged grocery store spat. A Publix employee, however, told police that it was Thomas who “continuously” yelled “Go back where you came from!” at the man. The state representative later corroborated the Publix employee’s testimony by admitting she lied in her social media posts.

“I don’t want to say he said ‘go back to your country or go back to where you came from,'” admitted Thomas in an interview, along with the fact that she told him to “Go back.”

8. Twelve-year-old student falsely claims three white boys in her class pinned her down and cut off her dreadlocks.

A sixth-grade black student at a private Virginia middle school claimed that three of her white classmates forcibly cut off her dreadlocks, sparking another hoax hate crime — which was also promulgated by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). While the student has since admitted that she made the story up, Tlaib, on the other hand, has reportedly not issued a correction or deleted her tweet regarding the incident.

9. Accusers of Justice Brett Kavanaugh returned for another round of uncorroborated allegations.

By September, Kavanaugh accusers were back yet again for another round of accusations made against the now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh — allegations that have never been proven, just like the ones from the infamous 2018 witch trial. This time, the accusations arrived in the form of an article in the New York Times, which had also bizarrely tweeted, “Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.” The Times later deleted the tweet and apologized.

10. Ukraine / impeachment hoax

What would 2019 be without the unraveling of a brand new hoax involving a foreign country now that the Russia collusion hoax has effectively dissolved? By October, President Trump was accused of withholding aid over a routine phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Despite the questionable circumstances surrounding the so-called “whistleblower” and no proven quid pro quo, Democrats admittedly turned to “hearsay” for evidence. With witnesses unable to answer direct questions about what exactly Trump had done that was impeachable, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) disseminating fake transcripts at hearings, and a plethora of other factors, Democrats have nonetheless used the Ukraine hoax as the catalyst for their “impeachment” narrative ahead of 2020.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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