The claim: Brock Turner will speak at the Republican National Convention
A claim that a convicted sex offender and former Stanford University student is slated to speak at the GOP convention started with a joke on Twitter, but soon migrated to Facebook.
Brock Turner was found guilty of sexual assault and attempted rape in 2016 for assaulting Chanel Miller outside a 2015 fraternity party on Stanford's campus, USA TODAY reported. Miller was intoxicated and unconscious.
Turner's trial attracted national attention when Miller's harrowing statement about the incident, read before his sentencing, was shared online.
An Aug. 18 Facebook post by user Jill Marie O'Brien about Turner's alleged participation in the Republican National Convention recently went viral.
"So RNC stands for the Rapists National Convention BREAKING NEWS: Brock Turner, Stanford Student Athlete Who Assaulted Unconscious Woman, Will Speak At RNC," O'Brien wrote.
O'Brien told USA TODAY it's not "inconceivable" Turner would be invited to speak.
"It is a comment on the fact that the Republican Party and its president have sunk so low that it is not inconceivable someone like that would be invited. Have you seen their speaker list as it really is. Sad!" she wrote in a message.
Facebook user Janene Hague leveled some of her ire about the claim at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in her post, also dated Aug. 18.
"Remember Brock Turner who raped an unconscious girl at Stanford? He’s a speaker at RNC convention. WTH? Only thing is something weird from DeVos whack job," Hague wrote.
USA TODAY reached out to Hague for comment.
The claim was originally meant as satire
Stand-up comedian Jena Friedman started the claim with a tweet that she said was meant as a joke.
"BREAKING NEWS: Brock Turner, Stanford Student Athlete Who Assaulted Unconscious Woman, Will Speak At RNC," Friedman tweeted on Aug. 18.
Friedman is a "'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' alum, 'Late Show with David Letterman' alum" and the creator of "Soft Focus" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, according to her Twitter bio.
She confirmed with USA TODAY the claim about Turner was a satirical take on the current roster of speakers for the RNC, scheduled for Aug. 24-27.
Speakers include Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who face felony charges for brandishing weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters, and Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic high school student who was criticized for staring at Native American counter-protester Nathan Phillips at a 2019 Right to Life March in Washington, D.C. Sandmann said the incident was misinterpreted and successfully sued some news outlets for defamation, USA TODAY reported.
A fake claim goes wide
It didn't take long for the claim to spread on social media. Some responded to Friedman's post with disbelief while others shared without proper context.
Friedman clarified her intent by tweeting an explanation later the same day.
"I don’t want to get kicked off twitter for other people not understanding satire," she wrote.
Our rating: False
We rate this claim FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. The initial claim began as a satirical tweet. Brock Turner was never scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention.
Our fact-check sources:
Jena Friedman Aug. 18 tweet
USA TODAY, Aug 8, 2018, "Brock Turner, ex-Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault, denied new trial"
USA TODAY, Sept. 22, 2019, "Chanel Miller, survivor in Brock Turner rape case, speaks about assault in first interview"
USA TODAY, Aug. 18, 2020, "St. Louis Couple, Covington Catholic Student to speak at Republican National Convention"
USA TODAY, Sept. 6, 2016, "Brock Turner registers as sex offender for Stanford assault"
Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 28, 2019: "Judge to allow portion of Nick Sandmann lawsuit against Washington Post to continue"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Fake claim about GOP convention began as satire