Various media outlets issued retractions and apologies Wednesday after spreading a story of a man claiming his mother died because of President Trump's travel ban.
The original story ran at a Fox News affiliate in Detroit on Tuesday.
A local business owner who flew to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment said she was blocked from returning home under President Trump's ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations. He said that while she was waiting for approval to fly home, she died from an illness. FOX 2 has learned that claim was not true.
Mike Hager fled Iraq with his family during the Gulf War, returned during the Iraq war and worked alongside United States Marines and Army forces. He now owns a business in Metro Detroit and said his mom would still be alive today if President Donald Trump had not instituted his travel ban on Muslim countries.
They quoted the man extensively but apparently didn't check to see when the mother actually died. “I really believe this in my heart: if they would have let us in, my mom - she would have made it and she would have been sitting right here next to me,” Hager told Fox News. “She’s gone because of him," he added, a dramatic quote that was widely shared.
Buzzfeed ran the story under a headline affirming that the man claimed his mother died.
This man says his mom died after being denied entry into the US over Trump’s travel ban https://t.co/RASUyyoJXT https://t.co/BMBrKBlHPb— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) 1485923216.0
"She's gone because of him." This man says his mom died after being denied US entry over Trump’s travel ban https://t.co/tRvJvld5sS— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeed News) 1485922591.0
A retraction was later added to the article when the family's Imam revealed that she had died prior to the ban.
Imam Husham Al-Husainy, of the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, told WJBK the man’s mother actually died five days before the ban was put in place.
The left-wing advocacy organization ThinkProgress was also caught spreading the "fake news."
Death of a Michigan man’s mother illustrates tragic consequences of Trump’s Muslim ban https://t.co/7GmeAIIAPY https://t.co/5nh6cOpeBo— ThinkProgress (@ThinkProgress) 1485962515.0
Their LGBT editor later admitted the error. "Unfortunately, one of the stories we highlighted earlier appears to have been fabricated. We've updated accordingly," he tweeted.
Unfortunately, one of the stories we highlighted earlier appears to have been fabricated. We've updated accordingly: https://t.co/biZInrvxpc— Zack Ford (@Zack Ford) 1485982565.0
Twitchy highlighted some of the other media organizations and figures that spread the false story, including the New York Daily News and CNN contributor Ron Fournier.
"Fake news" has become a contentious issue this political season as many on the left are blaming the proliferation of false news sites and viral stories for creating narratives that they say helped shoehorn Trump into the White House. He and his allies have in return accused the mainstream media of far deeper "fake news" transgressions, with the President openly calling out CNN and the New York Times, and supporters saying they will boycott news outlets he deems unfair.