Bites: True or False?

Since its popularization in the 2016 presidential elections, fake news has become a common voice of political discord, blurring the lines of fact and providing our daily comic relief. Yet the spread of misinformation is nothing new. Here’s a brief selection of unfortunate gaffes and fakeries from news history:


At political polls, success is only guaranteed after the final vote has dropped. The Chicago Tribune discovered the value of this certainty in 1948, while covering the presidential race between Thomas Dewey and Harry Truman. Rushing to declare the results of election night, the newspaper went to press with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman,” a prediction that was later upended in Dewey’s surprise defeat. After clinching the presidency, Truman posed with the erroneous headline before departing for Washington, memorializing the Tribune’s mistake for generations to come.


When fire ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in April 2019, President Donald Trump tweeted advice to workers battling the blaze, suggesting that “perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” In response, the French Civil Security agency explained that firefighters were using all possible means available, “except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the en-tire structure of the cathedral.”


Coming back from the dead is unheard of…or is it? According to Russia’s Zveda TV channel, opera singer Elena Obraztova attended the funeral of journalist Sergei Dorenko in May of 2019, reportedly com-mending the late Putin critic for his devotion to speaking the truth. However, as Obraztova died in 2015, the legitimacy of her praising presence is very unlikely, as well as a touch ironic.