Fact Checking of False But Viral Story of F-22 Pilots Resigning After Defense Secretary Vaccination Text
In a video monologue that has been viewed over 1.1 million times on Twitter, a bodybuilder named Justin Y. O’Donnell claimed that “my dad just let me know” that the Secretary of Defense had texted night to all active members. of the army demanding that they get vaccinated against Covid-19 before 10 a.m. the next day or that they face a court martial.
After receiving this text, O’Donnell said: “Twelve F-22 pilots, the best trained pilots in the world, have left their posts. He added that “16 B-52 bomber crew have left work.”
“To date, no pilot from the 1st Fighter Wing has resigned from their commission due to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate,” a Joint Base Langley-Eustis spokesperson said, according to Reuters, while A Barksdale Air Force Base spokesman called the virus story “misinformation” and “completely false,” Reuters reported.
Nonsense of a disinformation website
This nonsense comes from a September 1 article from a site called Real Raw News. The owner of the site, who goes by Michael Baxter, wrote that a group of pilots had quit en masse after receiving a text at 4 a.m. demanding they get their shots before 10 a.m. (article de Baxter does not say the text was sent by the Defense Secretary in particular.)
The stories invented by the site prompted many more fact-checks. The site even has a “disclaimer” that says, “The information on this website is for informational, educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice of legal counsel. (Bold type appears on website.)
Baxter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon.
From Instagram to Twitter
Copies of the video posted by various U.S. curators generated tens of thousands of additional views.
O’Donnell did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday afternoon. But he posted a new story on Instagram in which he wrote, in large print, that “FYI” the story of the F-22 pilots had been verified by Reuters and that the government refused the pilots to resign.