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• The debris found near Roswell, New Mexico, was part of a crashed balloon device used to spy on the Soviets.
• None of the Democrats named in the post were born in April 1948.
• Six of the people listed were born years before the Roswell incident occurred.
Social media has proven to be fertile ground for political humor and insults. But sometimes users play loose with the facts to land their punchline.
That’s what happened in an image posted on Facebook in April 2019, which features a long-winded set-up for a joke that casts several prominent Democratic politicians as the descendants of aliens and livestock.
The image in the post recalls the tale of a purported UFO crash and alien landing during the summer of 1947 "on a sheep and mule ranch" near Roswell, New Mexico, and refers to longstanding theories that the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies tried to bury the incident.
Then it pivots to this contention:
"However, what you may NOT know is that in the month of April 1948, nine months after that historic day, the following people were born:
- Albert A. Gore, Jr.
- Hillary Rodham
- John F. Kerry
- William J. Clinton
- Howard Dean
- Nancy Pelosi
- Dianne Feinstein
- Charles E. Schumer
- Barbara Boxer
"See what happens when aliens breed with sheep and jackasses?" the post reads.
The post earned some LOLs from the commenters.
But at PolitiFact, we check verifiable facts, not jokes and insults, so we couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the birthdays and the enduring claims about an alien landing.
Aliens or no aliens, it would be a curious occurrence indeed if nine prominent Democratic leaders, including four presidential nominees, had all been born within 30 days of each other. But they weren’t. Most of the people on this list weren’t born in 1948. And none of them were born in April.
PolitiFact used two sources to check each person’s birthday. Here's what we found:
- Albert A. Gore, Jr.: March 31, 1948
- Hillary Rodham: Oct. 26, 1947
- John F. Kerry: Dec. 11, 1943
- William J. Clinton: Aug. 19, 1946
- Howard Dean: Nov. 17, 1948
- Nancy Pelosi: March 26, 1940
- Dianne Feinstein: June 22, 1933
- Charles E. Schumer: Nov. 23, 1950
- Barbara Boxer: Nov. 11, 1940
Gore, the former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, would have fit the bill if he had been born a day later.
Farthest off the mark is Feinstein, California’s senior senator, who was born in 1933 and will turn 87 this summer.
The setup of the joke refers to witnesses who claim a UFO "with five aliens aboard" crashed just outside Roswell. It points to longstanding suspicions that the U.S. government engaged in a massive cover-up of an alien landing that occurred there.
It turns out there was a government cover-up that lasted nearly half a century, but it had nothing to do with aliens.
On an unknown date between mid-June and early July, a rancher named Mac Brazel drove out on his lands — about 80 miles outside of Roswell — and found unfamiliar debris, including tinfoil, rubber strips, sticks and heavy paper. Brazel brought his findings to local officials at the nearby Roswell Army Air Field.
Military officials initially described the debris field as the remains of a "flying disk."
When news outlets began to pick up the story, U.S. Army officials quickly explained that the debris was not from a flying saucer, but from a weather balloon. Photos of the remaining wreckage were provided as proof.
But then, in 1994, the U.S. Air Force changed its story again, releasing a report that admitted the "weather balloon" story had been fake. The report said the debris found near Roswell was consistent with a balloon device from a once top-secret operation known as Project Mogul that sought to determine via sound waves whether the Soviet Union was testing nuclear weapons.
In a subsequent report titled "The Roswell Report, Case Closed," released in 1997, the Air Force asserted there was no evidence that a life form of any kind was found in the Roswell area that could be connected to the UFO sightings reported.
Even so, to this day, the Roswell UFO conspiracies remain popular — and so do jokes about aliens landing there.
An image posted on Facebook refers to theories about a UFO crash and alien landing near Roswell to skewer various prominent Democrats born "nine months later" in April 1948.
None of the Democrats listed in the post were born in April 1948. In fact, most were born at least a year before the Roswell incident occurred.
The reported Roswell UFO sightings in 1947 have been explained as a case of the military using a false explanation for the debris found, in order to protect a top-secret U.S. operation to spy on the Soviets.
We rate this claim False.
History.com, "Roswell," June 7, 2019
Smithsonian Magazine, "In 1947, A High-Altitude Balloon Crash Landed in Roswell. The Aliens Never Left," July 5, 2017
YouTube, "Ask an Expert: The Roswell Incident," April 22, 2011
U.S. Air Force, "Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident," accessed May 5, 2020
History.com, "What Really Happened at Roswell?" Dec. 17, 2019
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CNN, "Howard Dean Fast Facts," March 24, 2020
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Biography, "Dianne Feinstein Biography," Sept. 3, 2019
Jewish Women’s Archive Encyclopedia, "Diane Feinstein," accessed May 4, 2020
Brittanica.com, "Chuck Schumer," Apr 3, 2020
CNN, "Chuck Schumer Fast Facts," Dec. 5, 2019
Brittanica.com, "Barbara Boxer," accessed May 4, 2020
History, Art and Archives United States House of Representatives, "BOXER, Barbara," accessed May 4, 2020
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