Media falls for story of YouTube prankster allegedly kicked off Delta flight in what is now believed to be a hoax

SalehOn Wednesday, Muslim YouTube personality and known prankster Adam Saleh issued a tweet in which he claimed that he and a friend were kicked off a Delta flight for merely speaking in Arabic.  The story has since been debunked by witnesses but, Newsbusters said, the media “happily obliged” Saleh, who asked that his story be spread as much as possible.

Katrina Marsh said:

And the media happily obliged by doing just that. By early afternoon, the story was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CNN, CBS News, USA Today, and The Verge, among others. Social media reaction was also swift, with Twitter users calling for a boycott on Delta Airlines.

But as you can see in the video, Saleh started recording after the incident allegedly occurred. As this all happened this morning, surely more details and accounts of what happened will be forthcoming; but Saleh’s account was all it took for the media to go running with claims of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Marsh added:

The kicker is that Saleh has done this many, many times before. His YouTube page is filled with dozens of videos where he stages pranks, intending to get a bigoted reaction from his unsuspecting audience. In several of these videos, he goes so far as to hire actors to play bigots.

In 2014, another one of his videos that supposedly exposed Islamophobia went viral but weeks later, he was forced to admit that the whole incident was staged. At the time, Saleh put up a disclaimer saying it was staged but apparently took it down at some point later because the video now has no disclaimer or indicator anywhere saying it is an act.

With Saleh’s reputation, you would think the media would be more cautious to verify his story before sharing it. But as we’ve seen before, the media is rarely unsuspecting when it comes to claims of bigoted and hateful white people.

Heat Street observed:

Many were quick to denounce Delta for their apparent Islamophobia and chastise the other passengers who stood by and did nothing.

But Saleh is almost certainly making the whole thing up. Not only is he a YouTube prankster, but he’s a fake prankster. He’s so lazy he doesn’t even bother actually doing pranks—he just completely fabricates them.

Not everyone in the Democrat-media complex was convinced, Marsh said:

Delta later issued a statement saying:

Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.

“It remains to be seen as more details come out on this story whether or not the media will follow up their reports with the whole story,” Marsh said in conclusion.

Even the left-wing Snopes — one of the sites tapped by Facebook to determine what’s real and “fake” — called Saleh’s claim, “unproven,” falling short of labeling the whole thing a hoax apparently intended to get attention.

Exit question: Will Facebook take action against the media outlets who spread the claim without vetting the entire story?


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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