READ BEFORE YOU RETWEET

Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks shared a tweet from a parody site that President Joe Biden was withholding health benefits from unvaccinated veterans.

Miller-Meeks retweeted the bogus story from www.delawareohionews.com, adding “If true, this is insane!”

She justified the retweet with this statement:

“I retweeted a story about President Biden requiring the VA to withhold benefits from unvaccinated veterans, saying ‘if true, this is insane.’ The story and website is obviously satire and makes a powerful point. President Biden’s executive orders about COVID-19 have been classic examples of government overreach and these days the unbelievable has become reality.”

The parody included fake quotes attributed to Biden:

“You are willing to fight and die for your country. You are willing to take a bullet in the head for next to nothing. Get blown to bits over in Afghanistan. But you won’t let us pump some mRNA molecules into your arm?” the president continued. “It’s time to get real. Some of you are behaving like some real wise guys here, some real dummies. Wiseguy dumb-dumb boys, as my father used to say. Enough is enough. So sit down and get the dang shot. Do what we tell you to do and continue your service to this great country. Or go without your healthcare benefits. The choice is yours.” 

Delaware Ohio News warns viewers that everything “on this website is made up.” Nevertheless, people mistook the report for real news, expressing their disgust with the phony veterans vaccination decision. Here’s a screenshot:

This story emerged on the day an article by Michael Bugeja appeared on the Poynter news site about Americans being unable anymore to tell the difference between news and opinion.

A Media Insight Project survey found only 43% of respondents being able to easily sort news from opinion in online-only news or social media. They were more confident differentiating news from opinion in local TV news, “which usually contains no formal commentary.” Even when a news publisher labeled opinion as such, many people still could not tell the difference.

Bugeja discussed the Miller Meeks retweet with ABC News affiliate WOI television.

In the interview I warned, “Read before you retweet!” Any person with a constituency has an added obligation to check the validity of the source before affirming what might turn out to be an embarrassing topic or fake post. Parody takes no prisoners. While Democrats were the target of the parody, the piece ensnared mostly Republicans who believed it to be true.

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