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A Michigan man reportedly lied when he claimed his mother died in Iraq as a direct result of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Middle Eastern states.

But claims that the story was fabricated surfaced only after the press helped Mike Hager’s allegedly bogus tale to go viral.

A Fox affiliate in Detroit is responsible for first reporting that Hager’s mother was a supposed victim of Trump’s immigration order.

“Detroit family caught in Iraq travel ban, says mom died waiting to come home,” read the story’s headline.

The original report is chock-full of juicy and notable passages, including the following:

Mike Hager fled Iraq with his family during the Gulf War, returned during the Iraq war and worked alongside United States Marines and Army forces. He now owns a business in Metro Detroit and said his mom would still be alive today if President Donald Trump had not instituted his travel ban on Muslim countries.

The article also includes this tearjerker of a quote from Hager, “They destroyed us. I went with my family, I came back by myself. They destroyed our family.”

He also told the Fox affiliate, “I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very, very upset. She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she’s going to pass away — she’s not going to make it.”

The report even delved into a bit of editorializing of its own, including this line near the story’s conclusion, “He’s a proud American citizen whose family has now been torn apart.”

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“I spoke to him twice yesterday.”

02/01/17 6:21 PM

The biggest and most obvious problem with the Fox11 scoop, however, is that there is nothing provided in the story to corroborate Hager’s claim. No secondary sources or confirmation. Nothing. The entire report hinges on the say-so of one man.

But that didn’t stop members of the media from helping the Detroit man’s claim from going viral, as they immediately spread the Fox11 report all over social media.

Nearly 24 hours later, and the Detroit affiliate published a rather startling follow-up report: Hager reportedly lied.

His mother died five days before the Trump White House rolled out the immigration executive order, according to Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, who leads the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, Mich.

Al-Hussainy told Fox11, “Hager’s mother had kidney disease and was receiving treatment in Michigan – where she lived – before traveling to Iraq to visit family.”

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02/01/17 5:56 PM

She died on Jan. 22, 2017, nearly a week before Trump’s controversial executive order limiting immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

Several of the media members who helped the original story go viral also shared the follow-up report showing Hager likely fabricated the tale. The problem is: You can’t un-ring that bell. Once a bogus story goes mainstream, it’s a hell of a thing trying to get people to focus on the inevitable corrections and clarifications.

There’s no excuse for why Fox11 published the report without first confirming Hager’s story. There’s no excuse for going to print without some small piece of corroborating evidence. Journalists know better than this, and there’s no excuse for those who readily and unhesitatingly shared the story despite its obvious lack of supporting evidence.

The only reason someone would share this story despite its immediately noticeable and obvious flaws is because it sounded right. It scratched the confirmation-bias itch.

Hager is apparently not returning Fox11’s calls.

The Detroit news affiliate has since heavily amended its original report, which was written by Amy Lange.

President Trump attends return of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen

Top Story

President Trump and his daughter Ivanka departed the White House for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during an intelligence gathering raid in Yemen last weekend.

Owens, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, was killed in a clandestine raid at an al Qaeda facility that Trump had authorized early Sunday morning. The operation left four additional U.S. service members wounded and marked the first military fatality under the new administration.

Trump, who was to be joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., upon arriving at Dover, had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with Owens’ family on Tuesday.

02/01/17 3:38 PM



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