A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:
Lauren Boebert filed articles of impeachment against Biden. That doesn’t mean he was impeached
CLAIM: President Joe Biden was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors in June 2023.
THE FACTS: Biden has not been impeached. The House voted last month to send articles of impeachment introduced by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert to its Judiciary Committee and its Homeland Security Committee for review. Articles of impeachment, issued solely in the House, detail the charges against an elected official, but impeachment only occurs if the articles are approved by the chambers’ members. Some on social media are misrepresenting the House’s June vote to send the articles of impeachment to the committees, falsely suggesting it means Biden has already been impeached. One Instagram post features a Forbes video of Boebert introducing the articles to the House on June 20. A chyron on the video reads: “Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduces articles of impeachment against President Biden on House.” Despite the inclusion of real House footage with an accurate chyron, the post, which had received more than 94,700 likes by Friday, claims: “Biden is Impeached!!! Finally! For High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But the introduction of the articles of impeachment, which accuse Biden of “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to his handling of the U.S. border with Mexico, are only the first step in the impeachment process. The constitutional equivalent of an indictment, they detail charges against an elected official. Impeachment occurs if the House approves the articles. If approved, the Senate then votes whether to acquit or convict the official. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, also a Republican, negotiated a deal with Boebert to send her articles of impeachment for review by the two House committees after she used a House rule called a privileged resolution in an attempt to force a snap vote, the AP has reported. A related resolution introduced by Republican Rep. Chip Roy on June 21 referred Boebert’s articles of impeachment for possible consideration by the aforementioned congressional committees, like any other bill. The House voted 219-208 along party lines the next day on this resolution. Neither committee is under any obligation to take further action on Boebert’s articles of impeachment.
— Associated Press writer Melissa Goldin in New York contribute this report.
No, Ron DeSantis’ high school yearbook quote does not mention ‘Sir-Mixes-a-Lot’
CLAIM: The quote below Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ high school yearbook photo reads: “My Mount Rushmore is Jesus, Sir-Mixes-a-Lot, and Nintendo 64.”
THE FACTS: An image of DeSantis’ entry in his yearbook was edited to add the quote. A spokesperson for the school district that oversees DeSantis’ alma mater confirmed to The Associated Press that the yearbook photo is authentic, but that there is no quote beneath it. Social media users shared the fabricated image, suggesting it shows the Republican presidential candidate was out-of-touch in his teen years. The image shows a black-and-white image of DeSantis as a youth with the “Mount Rushmore” quote below it. The misspelled “Sir-Mixes-a-Lot” is a reference to Sir-Mix-a-Lot, the rapper known for his 1992 hit “Baby Got Back.” “‘Sir-Mixes-a-Lot’ should automatically disqualify you from running for office,” reads one tweet that had received more than 32,000 likes by Friday. Sean Clark, a spokesperson for Pinellas County Schools, told the AP that DeSantis graduated from the district’s Dunedin High School in 1997. "This is a photo from the Dunedin High School yearbook; however, there is no quote within the yearbook photo beneath Governor DeSantis’ photo nor any other student within the yearbook,” he wrote in an email. Neither DeSantis’ office nor his campaign returned requests for comment.
— Melissa Goldin
Social media posts falsely suggest Australian birth-rate drop was caused by COVID vaccines
CLAIM: New data on the numbers of births in the Australian state of New South Wales shows that coronavirus vaccines “destroyed” human fertility.
THE FACTS: The data being cited doesn’t mention vaccines at all and doesn’t draw any link to their impact on birth rates. Demographic experts in Australia say a drop in the number of babies born in New South Wales hospitals, which is the focus of the chart, is explained by social and economic factors such as high housing prices, job insecurity and pandemic-era lockdowns. They also note that birth rates in Australia and other developed nations were already trending downwards years before COVID-19 vaccines were even created. Social media users are claiming new data shows birth rates are plummeting as a result of vaccines developed against the coronavirus. Many are sharing a screenshot of a post featuring a line chart titled, “Babies born in NSW hospitals.” The chart, which is partly cut off in the screenshot, purports to show the number of babies born per quarter in New South Wales hospitals from March 2010 to March 2023. The numbers fluctuate within a relatively narrow range over the years shown on the chart before plummeting dramatically. “The world is about to discover the COVID vaccines destroyed fertility,” wrote one user on Instagram who shared the screenshot. But the chart comes from an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald last month that makes no mention of COVID vaccines. Drawing from publicly available data published by the Australian state’s Bureau of Health Information, the story examines declining births at New South Wales public hospitals during the first three months of 2023. It found that the number of babies born at the hospitals was 15,868, down from a peak of 19,081 in 2021 and the lowest of any quarter since 2010. The article quotes a range of experts who argue that socio-economic factors are driving the birth declines. Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University in Canberra who is quoted in the story, confirmed to The Associated Press that “cost-of-living pressures, housing affordability, insecure employment, gender inequality” are among things forcing young Australians to hold off having children. “The story of declining births in NSW is a complex social one, not a reductionist anti-vax fear mongering horror story,” Allen wrote in an email. Udoy Saikia, a social demographer at Flinders University in Adelaide who is also cited in The Sydney Morning Herald story, noted that during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, some couples moved up plans to have children while working from home and having their movements restricted. “As a result, there was a significant increase in the number of births during the subsequent 2021 period, followed by a decline in birth rates in the latter half of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023,” he wrote in an email.
— Associated Press writer Philip Marcelo in New York contributed this report.
Parody tweet about the Titanic submersible falsely attributed to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
CLAIM: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene published a Twitter post reading, “How can the Titanic submersible run out of air if you breathe both in and out? I feel like this is more fake news BS.”
THE FACTS: Greene did not tweet this statement and there is no evidence she ever made such a comment. A spokesperson for the Republican congresswoman from Georgia also confirmed to The Associated Press that the quote is fake. The fabricated quote originated on a parody Twitter account that impersonates Greene. The quote was shared on social media on accounts claiming it was authentic. “How can the Titanic submersible run out of air if you breathe both in and out? I feel like this is more fake news BS,” reads a quote overlaying a photo of Greene, referencing the Titanic-bound craft that recently imploded, killing five. The image was shared by an Instagram account. That same account shared a screenshot of a tweet with the same quote, which included the handle @RepMTG_Press. The bio and title of @RepMTG_Press on Twitter say it’s a parody account. There is no record of the real Greene ever tweeting this statement from her account. Nick Dyer, a spokesperson for Greene, confirmed in an email to the AP that the tweet was not from her account.