When cartoons are based on fake news

When cartoons are based on fake news
Cartoon drawn from a fake news

Cartoon by Dana Summers, Tribune Content Agency.

I read this story on the blog of fellow Canadian Guy Badeaux, "Bado", in a post entitled"A cartoonist falls for a hoax", and it is yet another example of how fake news can become so pervasive that it remains in the popular imagination and, on most occasions, is more widespread than its denial.

In the scene, a group of immigrants appear (a backpack reads "illegal immigrants") and in front of them a guy wearing a T-shirt with the initials of New York addresses two American veterans who are outside a hotel and says:"Thank you for your service. Now get out of here. I need the room.

Well, the situation recreated in the cartoon is based on a fake news story. Another case of racist hoaxes amplified by the Republican ranks and related media, in this case staged to create a fake news story.

The local Mid Hudson News discovered that the story did not hold up and revealed that the story about homeless veterans being kicked out of Newburgh hotels to take in immigrants was a hoax.

On 17 May the Mid questioned the story, the next day they published that The hotel says the "displaced veterans" story is a "lie" and on 19 May they uncovered the hoax, claiming it was a hoax.


Seven drifters said they were part of a group of fifteen who were supposedly going to perform pretending to be veterans to carry out the hoax. They claim they were offered $200 for the job, money none of them ever received.

The controversy erupted after New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, bused a small group of asylum seekers to a suburban hotel because the city's homeless shelter system was having difficulty absorbing the influx of migrants from the US-Mexico border.

The group's move sparked a political backlash from Republican county officials, who accused the mayor of trying to dump his problems on unprepared communities.

Then the founder of a small charity in the area added an inflammatory claim: to make room for the migrants, a Newburgh, New York hotel had evicted nearly two dozen homeless veterans.

The hoax, told by the executive director of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, Sharon Toney-Finchwas published on 12 May by the tabloid The New York Post, which elevated it to front-page news.

When cartoons are based on fake news

This hoax was quickly echoed by Fox News, Newsmax and other conservative media. The Attorney General is now investigating these false claims.

On Friday, the Post published a follow-up article reporting the latest developments. Doubts about the story arose after an investigation by a local newspaper, the Mid Hudson News. An investigation that Murdoch's paper never did and probably never wanted to do.

Hotel managers told the local paper that the story was not true.

A receipt purporting to show that the Crossroads Hotel had received $37,800 for housing the veterans appeared to have been forged.

On Friday, in a news update, the Mid Hudson News reported that several men staying at a homeless shelter in Poughkeepsie, New York, had claimed they had been recruited to pretend they were among the veterans evicted from the hotel.

The newspaper quotes some of the men as saying they were offered $200, food and alcohol to participate in the set-up.

They said they met with Toney-Finch and then participated in a meeting at an Orange County veterans' centre with local chamber of commerce officials.

Republican Assemblyman Brian Maher, who had called the alleged events on Fox News "an absolute disgrace on all fronts," apologised to the veterans, the hotel and the community.

"I am devastated and disheartened after a conversation with Sharon Toney-Finch at approximately 3:15pm on Thursday, May 18, in which I learned that the information regarding the YIT Foundation's displacement of homeless veterans is false. Their gross misrepresentation of the facts surrounding our homeless veterans is appalling."(Source)

When the cartoonist gets screwed (or not)

While editorial cartoons (I never liked to call them that) are merely the opinions of those who draw them, knowingly using lies to whip up hatred is one of the lowest things a cartoonist can do.

I don't know the cartoonist's reaction. I have searched his social networks and have found nothing on the matter.

In any case, the cartoonist can always wriggle out of the matter and claim that he gave credibility to this supposed news that opened the front pages and that different media claimed it was true, and that's all there is to it. After all, what difference does it make, if all it was about was continuing to amplify the racist discourse. Mission accomplished. Otherwise, an "I'm sorry", although it doesn't solve anything, never hurts.

I remember the case of a cartoon from a well-known national conservative newspaper that was awarded a prize (the same newspaper is the organiser of the competition) and praised by the King of Spain himself.

In March 2019, José María Nieto received the Mingote Prize for a cartoon entitled "Que levanten la mano los hijos de Guardia Civil", published in ABC in October 2018. The cartoon in question recounted alleged events for which the defendants were acquitted and the case was dismissed.

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