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A fake news story that claimed discount store chain Target would no longer sell the Bible doesn’t stand up to a more careful reading.
The website NewsLeak.co, which is registered to an address in the Eurasian capital of Tbilisi, Georgia, ran an undated story around Feb. 16, 2017, with the headline, "Target to discontinue sale of Holy Bible." The story was flagged by Facebook as part of its efforts to rid its news feeds of fake news.
The story said the store had been under fire for its policy of allowing transgendered customers to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identified. That part is accurate.
But the story veers into false territory by saying Target CEO Bryan Hornell claimed the chain "will no longer cater to religious extremists" by selling the Bible. Hornell allegedly said in a letter that Targets would start phasing out anything related to religion — including Christmas decorations — in its stores.
They’re all based on a (currently deleted) May 16, 2016, story from NationalReport.net, a site that generates made-up articles. "All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news," its disclaimer reads.
That disclaimer isn’t on the stories themselves, and don’t look to appear on earnest reposts of the article on other sites.
Beyond that, there are clues that this isn’t a real story, starting with the fact that the chairman and CEO of Target is Brian Cornell, not Bryan Hornell.
As for being able to buy the good book, a search of the Target.com website turns up 791 results in a search for "Holy Bible," so it’s readily available.
But just to make sure, we contacted Target’s public relations department, which assured us that yes, you can still buy the Bible in stores. And no, there were no plans to change that.
Target did eventually start offering private bathrooms to try to settle the boycott over transgendered bathrooms, but it never said it would stop selling the Bible.
We rate this statement Pants On Fire!
NewsLeak.co, "Target to discontinue sale of Holy Bible," Feb. 16, 2017
CNN, "Target's $20 million answer to transgender bathroom boycott," Aug. 17, 2016
Wall Street Journal, "Target Adds Private Bathrooms to Quell Transgender Debate," Aug. 18, 2016
Target, "Brian Cornell, Board Chairman and CEO," accessed Feb. 22, 2017
Interview with Lee Henderson, Target spokesman, Feb. 22, 2017
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