Fact-Checkers Throttle Posts Claiming Iran Chanted 'Death to America'

October 11th, 2023 11:30 AM

If the fact-checking industry is going to insist that it should be able to throttle social media posts, at the very least, it should fact-check the claims the post is actually making and not straw men because Instagram posts have been deemed misinformation after PolitiFact and the USA Today accused the posters of attributing a 2020 “Death to America” chant in the Iranian parliament to 2023 when the posts did no such thing.

PolitiFact’s Ciara O’Rourke wrote, “After Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, old footage of Iranian lawmakers chanting "death to America" in the country’s parliament started to recirculate social media. But multiple posts are describing the footage as if it were recent. It’s not.”

She also cites an Instagram post that read ‘“Iran law makers chant death to America… didn’t Joe Biden just give Iran $6 billion?’ reads text flanking the video. ‘Joe Biden’s 2nd war while in office… god speed Israel!’ A ticker reading ‘breaking news’ scrolls below the clip.” 

The post never claimed the chant was from 2023, but O’Rourke concludes, “This video is from January 2020, and captured events after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. We rate claims that this video shows events in 2023 False.”

It doesn’t matter if the video was posted in 2020 or 2023, the point is that for Iran, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are Orwellian-like Two Minutes of Hate rituals that provides the regime’s ideological raison d'etre and so unfreezing $6 billion is a massive mistake when they fund terrorist groups like Hamas that just killed over 1,000 Israelis.  

Meanwhile, over at USA Today, Joedy McCreary cites another Instagram post claiming the same thing. The post reads, “Biden recently sent 6 billion of there but it’s death to America.” Nothing about 2023.

Still, McCreary writes, “The video is from 2020, not a response to the current Israel-Hamas conflict. It shows Iranian lawmakers protesting the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. There are no credible reports that any of those chants mentioned Israel… The video is labeled as breaking news.”

The CNN chyron is labeled as breaking news, the actual post is not. That’s a big distinction that McCreary butchers.

McCreary also objects to the claims that the Iranians “called for Israel's doom, there are no credible translations of the chants heard in the video that indicate they refer to any nation but the U.S.”

That’s cute. Everyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear knows what the regime thinks of Israel.

McCreary also objected to the “claim in the caption asserting that President Joe Biden sent Iran $6 billion,” declaring it “is also not true” because it was more of a “transfer of roughly $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil revenues from South Korea to a restricted account in Qatar last month in exchange for the release of five American citizens held in Iran…None of that money has been spent, and it has nothing to do with the conflict in Israel, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a post on X.”

Okay, but Biden still agreed to the deal without any positive change in Tehran’s behavior and arguing the deal has nothing to do with the Hamas attack is an opinion, not a fact.

To show how the fact-checkers collude with each other, McCreary concludes, “PolitiFact also debunked the claim.”

And there’s the problem: the appearance of multiple fact-checkers debunking the same claim gives the fact-check the appearance of credibility, when in reality one fact-checker just copied the other’s homework.