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Fact check: Partly false list of alleged ‘stacked deck’ with politicians’ family links

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A post circulating on social media allegedly lists the family ties of prominent Democrats to claim the “media is rigged” or in cahoots with political Democrats. These include Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Speaker of the United States House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

Fact check by Reuters. Reuters

The list is an assortment of fabricated or inaccurate family ties to certain relationships that were once genuine under the Obama administration. Parts of this claim have been circulating since at least 2014.

Recent posts can be seen here, here and here

Some iterations of the long posts include text that reads, “That’s what you call a ‘stacked deck.’ on it, it might help you to solve the riddle”.

A similar version of this claim, which does not mention Governor Whitmer, has been circulating since at least October 25, 2019, according to CrowdTangle, a social media content discovery and monitoring tool. (here here).

The version with the Whitmer allegation has been circulating since at least April 29, 2020 here. Other fact checkers have debunked similar iterations of this list here and here.

WHITMER AND SOROS – FALSE

Recent posts include the claim that Governor Whitmer “worked for George Soros”. This allegation was amplified earlier this year by conservative voice Chuck Woolery on Twitter archive.vn/O7FtY. Chelsea Lewis, assistant press secretary in Whitmer’s office, told Reuters by email that the claim was “completely false information”.

As Michigan State University, Whitmer’s alma mater, explains, after graduating in 1998, she worked at the law firm Dickinson Wright for two years (here), before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2000. More information about Whitmer’s career can be seen here (bit.ly/3oCWZ8A).

Reuters previously denied the claim that Whitmer was George Soros’ niece here

NEWSOM AND PELOSI – FALSE

Posts with this claim allege that California Governor Gavin Newsom is Nancy Pelosi’s nephew. This is untrue, even though their families were once linked in marriage decades ago.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle (bit.ly/2VUZO8M), Belinda Barbara Newsom, Gavin Newsom’s aunt, was married to Ron Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law. The couple divorced in 1977 (here).

ADAM SCHIFF’S SISTER AND SOROS’ SON – FALSE

Posts also falsely claim that the sister of Adam Schiff, US Representative for California’s 28th Congressional District, is “married to the son of George Soros”. Schiff does not have a sister. Adam Schiff is the son of Edward and Sherrill Anne Schiff, and brother of Daniel M. Schiff (legcy.co/36M5hCX).

The confusion may have arisen from the marriage of one of Soros’ sons. As Forbes reports here, the billionaire and philanthropist has five children. One of them, Robert Soros, according to a marriage announcement by The New York Times here, married a woman named Melissa Robin Schiff in 1992. However, Melissa Schiff, daughter of Marlene S. Schiff and Hazkel Schiff , is not the sister of the Democratic congressman.

In 2018, the congressman’s office told FactCheck.org here that he had no known connection to Melissa.

JOHN KERRY’S DAUGHTER MARRIED TO IRANIAN MULLAH’S SON – FALSE

The messages also claim that John Kerry’s daughter “is married to the son of a mullah in Iran”. It’s wrong.

This allegation sounds like a five-year-old debunked claim that was meant to link then-Secretary of State Kerry to Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who was negotiating the nuclear deal with Kerry at the time (here).

Vanessa Kerry, one of the two daughters of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate (here, here) married Brian Vala Nahed in 2009 (here). Nahed was born in New York, according to his professional profile on the Massachusetts General Hospital website here.

As the Boston Globe reports here, Nahed and Kerry became the target of misinformation in 2015. It was rumored then that the best man at Vanessa and Brian’s wedding was Javad Zarif’s son. The claim was denied by Vanessa on Twitter here and also rejected by the Iranian government here.

In their 2009 wedding announcement here, The New York Times reported that Vala Nahed was the son of the chief of staff at a hospital in Mission Hills, California, and that his mother ran a private practice also run by Nahed’s father. Nahad. The Boston Globe also reported here that Nahed’s parents left Iran in 1975.

THE MEDIA AND THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION – MOSTLY TRUE

Virtually the same claim that CBS, ABC News and CNN staff are linked to the Obama administration has been circulating since at least 2014, according to the earliest iteration Reuters could find on public Facebook groups and pages (here).

Snopes reviewed the claim here in 2016, when the list was “widely replicated via social media and email.” At the time, some roles were already outdated.

RICE AND CAMERON

The claim mentions that Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser for the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017, was married to Ian Cameron (here), who is listed in the claim as an “executive producer of ABC News.” Cameron starred in ABC’s “This Week” twitter.com/thisweekabc ), but he resigned in 2010, (here).

Reuters could not confirm whether Cameron still works in the media.

JAFFE AND HOGAN

He also mentions the marriage of Matthew Jaffe, “ABC News and Univision reporter”, and Katie Hogan, “Obama’s former assistant press secretary”. This statement is largely true.

Jaffe held the roles mentioned in this claim at some point during the Obama administration. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a correspondent for Univision from 2011 to 2012 and a reporter and producer for ABC News from 2006 to 2014. In 2014, Jaffe became director of communications for the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.

The description of Hogan’s role is largely true. She held several press-related positions in presidential campaigns and the first Obama administration (here), including serving as deputy press secretary during his second presidential campaign. According to her LinkedIn profile, she became executive director of Organizing for Action (OFA) in 2013, a nonprofit group created by members of Obama’s former campaign team.

SHIP AND CARNEY

He also mentions the marriage of ABC correspondent Claire Shipman and former White House secretary Jay Carney. This statement is largely true.

Some iterations of the post correctly refer to Carney as “Obama’s former White House press secretary”. Carney left his post in the Obama administration in 2014, as Reuters reported here. Carney is currently Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon ( twitter.com/jaycarney ).

According to her HarperCollins profile, Shipman “was a regular contributor to Good Morning America and other national shows for ABC News,” before turning to writing (here).

BEN AND ELIZABETH SHERWOOD

The claims refer to “CBA Chairman” Ben Sherwood as the brother of “Obama’s special adviser” Elizabeth Sherwood. Although their roles at the time were not precisely described, the two held positions at ABC and the Obama administration, respectively.

Ben Sherwood was named president of ABC in 2010 (here).

In 2014, Sherwood was promoted to co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and chairman of Disney/ABC Television Group (here). According to his LinkedIn profile, he left the company in 2019. As reported by Variety here, the decision came after the company acquired 21st Century Fox.

Elizabeth Sherwood held several positions during the two Obama administrations, as seen here, including Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) from 2009 to 2013.

MOSELEY AND NIDES

The posts refer to “CNN President” Virginia Moseley as the wife of “Hillary Clinton’s former Assistant Secretary” Tom Nides. Although Moseley’s role is not precisely described, she worked at CNN.

Moseley joined CNN in 2012 as vice president and deputy bureau chief in the network’s Washington bureau (here) and became senior vice president of newsgathering for the network’s US operations in 2018 (here), a role it has occupied since the publication of this cheque. ( here )

Tom Nides, was deputy to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2011 to 2013. As Reuters reported here, he joined US investment bank Morgan Stanley in 2013.

VERDICT

Partly wrong. This list includes fabricated family ties and some relationships that were once genuine under the Obama administration.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. To learn more about our social media post verification work, click here.



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