Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison were apparently smeared by a right-wing campaign that falsely claimed the two top Democrats failed to applaud the widow of a slain Navy SEAL at President Trump’s speech to Congress.
A single tweet claimed that “Sobbing widow of slain Navy Seal receives 2 minute standing ovation. Debbie Wasserman Schultz & Keith Ellison stay firmly seated, no claps.”
The tweet referred to the emotional moment when President Trump paid tribute to fallen Navy SEAL Ryan Owens and honored his widow Carryn, who was sitting in the gallery.
This was enough to ignite a firestorm of reactions, accusing the Democratic leaders of “disgraceful” conduct. The Daily Wire later accompanied the story with a photo showing Wasserman Schultz and Ellison sitting and listening, presumably while others stood and applauded.
But fact checking website Snopes examined video footage of Trump’s speech to Congress and reached the conclusion that this photo was taken a half hour earlier, when Trump was talking about inner cities, not about the fallen Navy SEAL.
Furthermore, Snopes found a White House video in which the two members of Congress are seen standing and clapping while Trump honors Carryn Owens.
Benny Johnson, the twitter user who started the discussion, also corrected himself later, tweeting that there were two ovations for Owens and “DWS & Ellison stood for her intro.”
It is not clear for how long Wasserman Schultz and Ellison stood and applauded, but what is clear is that it takes little proof to trigger a tsunami of online attacks. The Forward also initially misreported the facts based on these tweets.