Washington Post headline calling to ‘cancel midterms’ is altered
CLAIM: A Washington Post columnist published an opinion article with the headline: “To save democracy, Biden must cancel the midterms.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. No such article appeared on The Washington Post’s website, according to digital archives of the news outlet’s site and a Post spokesperson. A Twitter user who posted a popular version of the altered image later clarified that it was meant to be satire.
THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing a fabricated image of a Washington Post headline to claim that a columnist for the news outlet suggested President Joe Biden should cancel November’s midterm elections to “save democracy.”
The image was made to look like a headline under the Post’s opinion section, and was attributed to politics columnist Jennifer Rubin. It used the outlet’s fonts and Rubin’s profile photo. The fabricated image purported the article was published Thursday at 1:07 p.m.
“There is it,” commented one Twitter user who shared the image on Saturday, gaining more than 4,000 shares and 19,000 likes. The user, who says in their biography that they share memes, followed up a day later clarifying that the post was meant to be satire.
Still, many users asked whether the headline was authentic and some users shared it as real, criticizing Rubin’s purported take.
“Scary,” said one user sharing the tweet. “100% expected,” and “These people have lost their minds,” wrote others.
But the image does not show a genuine Post column, as the Twitter user who drove the claim pointed out.
No such article currently appears under the Post’s opinion section, or under Rubin’s page. Web archives of the section from the day after the headline was purportedly posted show no such column.
Rubin, who often shares her columns from her Twitter account, tweeted out links to all three of her columns that ran on Thursday. Those articles were headlined, “Recession or jobs boom? It’s not so simple,” “Here’s a test to see whether Supreme Court justices are above the law” and “5 factors that give Democrats a fighting chance in November.”
She did not post about, nor is there evidence of, a fourth column published that day.
Washington Post spokesperson Molly Gannon confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the headline is “not something we published.”
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.