Another hoax goes viral: No, Volkswagen is NOT closing Chattanooga plant

March 2, 2014

U.S. flag flies at a United Auto Workers  union hall (UAW).  Reuters photo, via The Economist

U.S. flag flies at a United Auto Workers union hall (UAW). Reuters photo, via The Economist

No, Volkswagen did not announce that it will pull out of Tennessee and close its billion-dollar automaking plant in Chattanooga. Those reports are based on a hoax.

Most people understand anything that comes from The Onion is parody at best, bad hoax at worst. It took me a while to catch on to The Daily Currant, another hoax site on the internet.

How long will it take others to catch on to the fact that “National Report” is a nasty hoax site, and nothing reported there can be taken at face value, since most of it is completely false?

National Report put up a parody post, quoting real statements from real people, but with a lead claiming Volkswagen decided to close down the Chattanooga plant.  Within a week or so, it had 63,000 shares on Facebook.

I started seeing the reports on Twitter last week, but they’ve been buzzing around for a few a while, since the union vote at the Chattanooga VW plant.  Here’s the earliest I found:

Union leaders in Europe, accustomed to good relationships with management and looking out for workers, announced they might oppose further expansion of VW in the American south without unionization — but that’s the closest real news comes to what “National Report” claims.

“Unfair labor praxis?”  What sorts of clues must a parody site drop before people start seeing through the hoax? Check out the author’s bio-line, while you’re at it.

Could we hope for a little bit of skepticism?  After the contentious, national headline-making union vote at the Chattanooga plant, wouldn’t it make sense that an announcement the plant would close, would also make headlines? But check the Chattanooga News-Free Press.  Stories there are about moving on, in Chattanooga, after the VW vote.

Nothing about closing the plant, from the newspaper that would surely be all over such a story. Or, check Volkswagen’s corporate website in the U.S. — closing their only U.S. plant would merit some mention there, don’t you think? What do we see:

Feb 21, 2014 VOLKSWAGEN GROUP SEEKS TO ACQUIRE ALL SHARES OF SCANIA

  • Volkswagen Group today resolved to make a voluntary tender offer of SEK 200 (approx. €22.26) per share to the shareholders of Scania Aktiebolag (“Scania”) for all Scania A and Scania B shares

Feb 21, 2014 ANDREAS RENSCHLER NAMED BOARD OF MANAGEMENT MEMBER FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AT VOLKSWAGEN GROUP

  • At its meeting today, the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Group appointed Andreas Renschler (55) as member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Commercial Vehicles effective February…

Feb 21, 2014 VOLKSWAGEN REPORTS SUCCESSFUL FISCAL YEAR 2013

  • With sales revenue of EUR 197.0 billion (previous year: EUR 192.7 billion), the Group’s operating profit of EUR 11.7 billion (EUR 11.5 billion) exceeded the record prior-year figure.

Feb 14, 2014 VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA EMPLOYEES VOTE AGAINST UNION REPRESENTATION

  • Volkswagen Chattanooga employees have voted in a secret ballot election against United Auto Workers (UAW) representation.

Nothing there. Google it, Bing! it, Yahoo! it, search on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll find repeats of the hoax story, but zero confirmation from any authoritative or official source, and no mentions on mainstream media who don’t deal in hoaxes. So, can we knock off the harmful hoax recirculation?

VW is in Chattanooga to stay.  VW built a $1 billion dollar, energy-efficient, state-of-the-car-making-art plant to use U.S. parts to make Volkswagens for sale in the Americas. VW is proud of it: “First and only LEED Platinum certified Auto Plant worldwide. LEED Platinum certified Volkswagen Academy.”  That’s not the sort of investment a company walks away from unless in extremis — and VW is doing okay.

VW may be troubled.  Their kanben manufacturing methods require active participation of the workers, and generally such a system works better when the workers are organized.  The Washington Post noted shortly before the vote:

If a majority of Volkswagen’s 1,570 hourly workers vote yes, it would mark the first time in nearly three decades of trying that the UAW has successfully organized a plant for a foreign brand in the United States. This time, the union has a powerful ally: Volkswagen itself, which is hoping the union will collaborate in a German-style “works council” and help manage plant operations.

Voting against a union, then, was a bit of a poke in the eye of management of Volkswagen in Chattanooga.  But it was also a poke in the eye the United Auto Workers and unions in the U.S., and conservatives are not disinclined to take a shot at friends, or work against the interests of the U.S., if they can take a shot at unions.  Tennessee conservatives like Sen. Bob Corker have sworn allegiance away from the U.S. already, promising never to increase taxes regardless how badly the nation might need it (consider how such a pledge would have crippled the U.S. in fighting either of the two world wars). So Republican elected officials let their hatred of unions overcome their love of economic development, Tennessee and the U.S. — and they interfered in the election trying to tilt it against the union, Volkswagen be damned.

But close the plant?  No.

Where does such a wild, and inflammatory story come from?

We’ve discussed “National Report” hoaxes here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub before.

This is just one more complete falsehood, designed to get people worked up unnecessarily and snare the unwary.  National Report created the hoax almost whole cloth, duping many by offering real quotes from real people, which do not say what the headline claims.

Do false reports cause any damage?  Sometimes.  Consider this: Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker promised VW would announce plant expansion in Tennessee almost immediately, if the workers rejected the union.  Oops.  Hasn’t happened.

What else did Corker fib about? Why are so many people giving credence to National Report, an admitted fib site?

More:

Caption from Nashville Tennessean: Sen. Bob Corker speaks to reporters in Chattanooga, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, about the defeat of the United Auto Workers in a three-day election at the Volkswagen plant in the city. The multiyear effort to organize Volkswagen's only U.S. plant was defeated on a 712-626 vote Friday night amid heavy campaigning on both sides. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig) / AP

Master hoaxer? Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, promised VW workers the company would announce an expansion in Chattanooga “within two weeks” if the unionization vote failed. March 1 marked the end of that two-week period. Caption from Nashville Tennessean: Sen. Bob Corker speaks to reporters in Chattanooga, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, about the defeat of the United Auto Workers in a three-day election at the Volkswagen plant in the city. The multiyear effort to organize Volkswagen’s only U.S. plant was defeated on a 712-626 vote Friday night amid heavy campaigning on both sides. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig) / AP


Another hoax suckering conservatives? No, the Washington Navy yard shooter was not identified as a registered Democrat

September 30, 2013

As if it mattered.

Some poor minion, in thrall to the RWNJ Machine, Tweeted me today that all mass shooters have been Democrats. I know the family of one, who happened to be Republican.  The odds of all of them over the years (and we have about one mass shooting each week) being registered Democrats just defies statistical probability.  The Columbine shooters were not old enough to vote; the New Town shooter probably was not active politically in any way . . .

Masthead to National Report. C'mon would these guys lie to you?

Masthead to National Report. C’mon would these guys lie to you?

Oh, yeah, and the Hemingway™ Brand Solid Gold, Shock-proof Sh** Detector started clanging away.

I challenged him for a citation; he offered none, but kept tweeting badgering posts all afternoon . . . finally he named Aaron Alexis.  Well, if that were so, that would be one, not “all mass shooters.”  I suggested others who would not be Democrats . . .

Then, after I’d cooked, after I’d fed the critters, washed some dishes and sat down, I thought about.  Where’d he get the crazy idea that Aaron Alexis was politically involved at all?  Nothing in the Fort Worth or Dallas papers (he lived in Fort Worth for many months).  So I Googled it.  “Aaron Alexis Democrat.”

Here’s the story, at our increasingly least favorite site, National Report.  Out of nowhere, the National Report story claims Alexis was a Democrat.

NBC News has identified the suspect in the Washington D.C. Navy Yard shooting as Registered Democract Aaron Alexis, 34, originally of Ft. Worth, Texas (click here for report circulating on Twitter regarding the shooter). Alexis, allegedly a Muslim (possibly gay), was a civilian contractor who reportedly used the ID of a former employee to gain access into the facility. At this time, 13 people are reported dead and several others wounded.

None of the links in the story make any reference to voter registration or any other way of identifying the shooter as a Democrat.  Veering off into bizarre, tasteless parody, National Report said:

National Report has attempted to contact Darrell Issa’s office for information regarding an investigation into Obama’s involvement with this tragedy. Alex Jones has information regarding the attack that suggests this was a false flag operation to deter attention from Syria.

National Report extends its warmest wishes to the family and friends of those involved in this horrific attack.

These phrases are red flags for bad information:  “Alex Jones has information” and “false flag operation,” favorite phrases of unhinged conspiracy aficionados.  “Warmest wishes” seems a particularly inept and tasteless line.

Why would any reporter think the president was involved in any way, and unless the reporter had information California Rep. Darrell Issa was involved himself, why would he contact Issa’s Congressional office?  Congress would have no role whatsoever in any investigation at such an early phase.

“National Report” avatar for “Chase Logan.” A man running from the scene of a hoax?

The reporter is identified as “Chase Logan,” which is probably a pseudonym, a mashup  of “Chevy Chase-Logan Circle,” two neighborhoods in northern DC and Maryland.  Alleged to be a graduate of Georgetown Law, Chase Logan’s bio as a reporter looks like fiction.   This alleged reporter is also the wit who wrote the National Report story parody on a new “boobs” merit badge for Boy Scouts.

Taste, accuracy and information, are not in these people.

The claim that the Washington Navy Yard shooter was a Democrat is based in no report deeper than this horrible National Report story, and is a hoax.  Bogus claims from an established hoaxing site should not be given the respect and circulation this report got.  No other credible source makes the same claim.

When one spots “National Report” as a source, one may well bet that the information sourced there is false, aimed at the truly gullible.

More:

Twitter Wall of Shame, the Truly Gullible:

  • File these under “anatomy of the spread of a hoax infection”

This next guy was even told it was a hoax site he got the information from; he chose to dismiss the warnings.

Update:  Missed this one.

http://twitter.com/Numb3rTech/status/379706725831430144

Joemel921 came back for another duping:

This guy figured it out, but his whistle-blowing was too subtle:

Original hoaxsters back for another round:

Hoaxsters push deeper into the desert sands:

I don’t see that MSNBC offered the information this guy claimed:

Real crazies start to crawl out, now:

Update January 11, 2014:  Good heavens, is this hoax still finding ill-informed, unthinking suckers?  Take a look at some of the other debunkers.


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