It looks like the media was too quick to latch onto a story that advanced a negative narrative about President Trump’s travel restricting executive order that it fell victim to widely reporting a story about an elderly US Green Card holder who allegedly died in Iraq after being denied entry into the US due to the ban.
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The story was originally reported by Fox 2 Detroit. A man by the name of Mike Hager who is an Iraqi national turned US citizen told the news station that his sick, dying mother was denied entry back into the United States from Iraq despite holding a US Green Card.
Fox 2 took the man at his word, who even showed them photos of his sick mother in an Iraqi hospital. The story spread far and wide on social media.
It was shared, re-shared, liked, commented on, and reacted to hundreds of thousands of times. National news organizations ran with the story, citing the original Fox 2 reporting. Blogs, youtubers and radio hosts mentioned the story during daily broadcasts and articles. Likely, millions, if not tens of millions of people, heard something about the story in one form or another.
For many people it humanized the travel restrictions and showed that it is effecting real people in real ways.
There is just one problem. The story is false. Made up. A fabrication.
Let’s start with what’s real. Mike Hager is an American citizen originally from Iraq. Many members of his family, including his mother, hold legal immigration status in the US, but are not citizens.
Hager’s mother did pass away. However, she passed away over a week before President Trump signed the executive order. Fox 2, who broke the original story, was forced to issue a retraction and publish the real story. According to their updated article:
The leader of a mosque in Dearborn has confirmed to FOX 2 that a man who claimed his mother died in Iraq after being barred from returning to the United States under a ban instituted by President Trump this weekend, lied to FOX 2 about when her death occurred.
Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, leader of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, says Mike Hager’s mom did not pass away this weekend after the travel ban was put in place. The Imam confirms that Hager’s mother died before the executive order was signed.
This is the bold retraction placed on the original story:
One has to wonder just how far the false narrative spread compared to how far the correction and retraction will spread.
Fox 2 also issued a correction on television during their daily news broadcast: