The claim: Fauci was arrested for COVID-19 conspiracy, as reported by USA TODAY
“BOOM! BOOM!” the post reads, accompanied by a number of emojis. “The COVID-19 masquerade is coming to a close. The key pawn, dr. Fauci, he was arrested. The domino takes its course. Long life Donald Trump THE PRESIDENT OF USA!!”
The post was hashtagged #WWG1WGA, which is commonly found on QAnon-adjacent posts.
Fact or fiction: Get these fact checks delivered to your inbox. Sign up here.
Fauci wasn't arrested
Dr. Anthony Fauci has not been arrested.
The photo used in the post as evidence of Fauci’s arrest was first used in an article by The Onion, a well-known satire site. The article is titled “Trump Administration Plants 137,000 Corpses In Fauci’s Bed To Frame Him For Coronavirus Deaths.”
A picture of Fauci’s face, which appears to be this one photographed by the Associated Press, is edited on the body of a person being arrested.
A spokesperson for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, where Fauci works, confirmed that he has not been arrested and that the post’s contents are not true.
As the face of the country’s COVID-19 response, Fauci is central in many conspiracy theories about the virus, often pushed by QAnon.
One viral claim alleged he, former President Barack Obama and Melinda Gates met in a "Wuhan lab" in 2015 (false); another claims he was the first CEO of Moderna, a biotech company searching for a COVID-19 vaccine, and is otherwise insidiously involved with that process (also false). The National Institute of Health is also central to "plandemic" conspiracy theories, which have been shown to be false, too.
Photo alters ‘Back to the Future’ USA TODAY Oct. 2015 paper
The second photo in the post shows a picture of a futuristic looking USA TODAY newspaper, the leading headlines reading “Dr Fauci Arrested for Seditious Conspiracy” and “COVID-19 Hoax!”
The image is doctored – but the futuristic look is intentional, as the screengrab comes straight from the movie "Back to the Future II." The USA TODAY front page on display in the movie is dated Oct. 22, 2015, its headline announcing main character Marty McFly’s (yet-to-be) son’s arrest.
In honor of “Back to the Future Day,” USA TODAY printed real copies of the nostalgic, made-up paper.
Our rating: False
We rate the claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci was arrested and USA TODAY reported on it as FALSE because it was not supported by our research. An NIAID representative confirmed to USA TODAY that Fauci was not arrested, and the post’s images were doctored. The photo claiming USA TODAY reported on Fauci’s arrest is a photoshopped image of the newspaper’s Back to the Future issue.
Our fact-check sources:
- CBS News, Aug. 2, 2018, What is the QAnon conspiracy theory?
- The Onion, July 13, Trump Administration Plants 137,000 Corpses In Fauci’s Bed To Frame Him For Coronavirus Deaths
- NPR, July 30, Dr. Anthony Fauci To Throw First Pitch For Washington Nationals' Season Opener
- Email with NIAID spokesperson
- USA TODAY, July 22, Fact check: Viral photo shows Obama, Fauci visiting NIH lab in 2014, not a 'Wuhan lab' in 2015
- USA TODAY, Sept. 11, Fact check: Moderna post makes false claims about Fauci, Gates, Soros, Epstein
- USA TODAY, Aug. 23, Fact check: 'Plandemic II' alleges false conspiracy theory involving CDC, NIH; pandemic not planned
- Quartz, Oct. 21, 2015, This is the cover of USA Today for “Back to the Future” day
- USA TODAY, Oct. 22, 2015, Fans race to get 'Back to the Future' paper
- USA TODAY, Sept. 22, Debunked QAnon conspiracy theories are seeping into mainstream social media. Don't be fooled.
- USA TODAY, Sept. 1, How QAnon and other dark forces are radicalizing Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic rages and election looms
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Online claim of Fauci's arrest is false