Clickbait websites love to make up fake quotes for celebrities and controversial politicians, hoping to mislead readers into clicking into their content and seeing their ads.
For instance, we recently fact-checked a post accusing former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., of saying something she didn’t say; we rated it Pants on Fire.
Now, as part of Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news, we learned that users had flagged as questionable a post from someone Bachmann used to babysit for -- former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. (Yes, the babysitting part is actually true.)
The claim about Carlson appeared first on a site called therightists.com. It was headlined, "Gretchen Carlson: ‘The 2nd Amendment Was Written Before Guns Were Invented.’ "
The accompanying article uses as its launching-off point something that Carlson did actually do -- making an on-air break with conservative orthodoxy by saying, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting in 2016, that the assault-weapons ban should be reinstated.
"Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer? Do we need them to protect our families?" she asked on air. "Can’t we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?"
These comments drew opposition from gun-rights supporters. It’s at this point that the article veers off into fabrication.
The article reads, "Interestingly, when confronted by Second Amendment supporters on Twitter, Carlson doubled down on her pro-ban stance, claiming that ‘the fact that you’re even using the Second Amendment as an argument against banning assault weapons shows me you’re ignorant. Don’t you know the 2nd Amendment was written before guns were even invented?’ "
This would be a ridiculous claim if she’d actually said it.
As schoolchildren are taught, muskets were used in the American Revolution. (Here’s an example from the collection of the Museum of the American Revolution.) And the revolution occurred more than a decade before the 1789 drafting and ratification of the Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment. ("A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.")
The first hint that this may be bogus appears elsewhere on therightists.com website. On the site’s "About Us" page, a grammatically challenged warning explains that therightists.com "is independent News platform That allow People and independent Journalist to bring the news directly to the readers. Readers come to us as a source of independent news that not effected from the big channels. This is HYBRID site of news and satire. part of our stories already happens, part, not yet. NOT all of our stories are true!"
Of course, this warning isn’t noted on the actual page the Carlson story appears on.
We also couldn’t find any credible news source reporting Carlson’s words as cited in therightists.com article.
Finally, we checked with Carlson’s office. In a statement, her office confirmed that the article was "total B.S."
Bottom line: Carlson did not say, "The 2nd Amendment Was Written Before Guns Were Invented." The accusation that she did rates as Pants on Fire.