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No, the NBA Has Not Canceled the 2017 All-Star Game in North Carolina Over Anti-LGBT Law

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Fake News Site Hoodwinks Many

The NBA has not announced it is moving the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte if North Carolina lawmakers and Governor Pat McCrory do not repeal an anti-LGBT law within the next month. A fake “news” site this weekend claimed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters in a news conference they had 30 days to repeal HB2 or he would move the game out of state.

“With this new law in place, Charlotte currently does not have any anti-discrimination protection in place, something that would be vital for a large event such as the All-Star Game,” the fake news site, ABCNews.com.co wrote, falsely quoting NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Cleveland.com reported the fake story, including the same quote, in an article with an AP byline, without noting its source. PinkNews, an LGBT news site in England, also published the fake “news,” and also did not note its source. The Sun-Times network also reported the story, later.

It does not appear that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference today.

“We are giving the state of North Carolina 30 days to repeal this law or they can expect the 2017 All-Star game to be held elsewhere. I want to make it clear that the NBA will not stand for this type of intolerance and hate,” the fake “ABC News” site wrote. 

The fake news site forced the NBA to tweet a response denying it:

But many on social media understandably thought the story was true, leading at least one local journalist to attempt to correct the record.

NCRM called the AP to in an attempt to get the story corrected, or verify its accuracy, but was transferred to a voicemail box by an AP telephone operator that was full. 

UPDATE I: 7:56 PM EDT –
The AP story has been taken down at Cleveland.com, with no explanation or correction. Other AP outlets have published it. Here’s a screenshot of the original:

1.jpg

And here is it at Archive.org.

UPDATE II: April 11 1:03 PM EDT –
The Associated Press reached out to NCRM several times since we first published this report. We offered to publish their explanation:

“The Associated Press did not publish the story and Cleveland.com erroneously published with an AP byline.”

Additionally, Chris Quinn, Vice President of Content, at Cleveland.com, the news site that published the story including the AP byline, Monday afternoon posted a lengthy mea culpa – something good publishers sometimes have to do (I speak from experience!) 

Quinn, in part, writes that “over the weekend, someone created a site that carefully mimicked the ABC news website and included a fake story about the NBA threatening to pull next year’s All Star Game out of Charlotte in protest of North Carolina’s new law. At cleveland.com, we saw that story, believed it to be real and decided to post the news on our website.”

That was our first mistake. This kind of news rarely is reported by a single national news organization. We should have found other sources, and, finding none, questioned how ABC would be alone in reporting this story. If we had done the basics, we would have figured out pretty quickly that we were seeing an impostor ABC website.

Our second mistake was in how we reported the fake news. We combined it with an Associated Press story about the North Carolina controversy but left the AP byline on what we published. That made it appear that the Associated Press had been duped by the impostor website. That’s not fair to the Associated Press, a valued partner for cleveland.com.

We have now updated this story in three ways, for accuracy and fairness, given this new information. First, we removed from the very first sentence at the top a reference to the AP. Second, we have added this update, and the one before it, both clearly marked. Third, we have adjusted the story to reflect that the Cleveland.com story was published with an AP byline, changing our statement that the AP appeared to have published the article – even though, clearly, it did appear so (screenshot above).

A few things more. First, NCRM published our story because it was clear the fake news story was being read by many people who understandably thought it was real. Out goal was to ensure the fake news was identified as fake, and before publishing our piece we called both the AP and Cleveland.com but were unable to reach live people who could help. Second, once they were aware, the AP appears to have worked hard to fix what they could in this event, and were gracious and earnest about working with NCRM. I’d like to thank Lauren Easton at the AP for her partnership.

Lastly, about fake news sites. We’ve all been duped. Sadly, the law does not require (to the best of my knowledge) fake news sites to identify their “articles” as fake. Hopefully, that one day will change, given the amount of false information some news sites and blogs publish, which only serves make our national conversation even more fraught with anger and disaffection.

 

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Arrested Again: Ex-FBI Informant and GOP Former Star Witness Alexander Smirnov

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Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who was arrested just eight days ago and charged with lying to the Bureau about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, has again been arrested, his lawyers state in an emergency court filing Thursday.

Smirnov allegedly used Russian intelligence to smear the Bidens, falsely claiming both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden had each accepted $5 million bribes. His claims were the basis of House Republicans’ impeachment investigation into President Biden.

But as NBC News’ Tom Winter reported, it’s a “mystery,” at least for now, why Smirnov was arrested again, his lawyers say, on the same charges as the first time.

Winter says earlier today at his attorneys’ offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Apparently agents showed up with a valid arrest warrant out of the Central District of California and took him into custody, but according to his attorneys, it was for the same exact indictment and the same exact charges that he had been previously hit with.”

RELATED: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

CNN adds that the warrant “this time” was “signed by federal district Judge Otis Wright, who will oversee the criminal case out of California.”

The federal government asked for Smirnov to be detained but a magistrate judge allowed him to be released last week.

Winter reports that Smirnov’s attorneys say “they would like to know why” he was re-arrested, “and there’s no indication on the docket that the judge has granted some sort of emergency motion to remand him, basically to pull him off the streets because he’s violated his agreement.”

“So a bit of a mystery at this point,” Winter adds.

CNN notes that after his first arrest, “Smirnov was released by Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts in Nevada on Tuesday with several conditions, including GPS monitoring and the surrender of his two passports.”

READ MORE: Experts Ask if Trump Disclosed Classified Intel After Nuclear Weapons Talk at Town Hall

Politico’s Kyle Cheney posted the arrest warrant. See it below or at this link.

 

Image: Screenshot of Smirnov with his face hidden from camera view

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‘Reached His Limits’: Engoron ‘Brings the Hammer Down’ on Trump Attorney

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New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has refused a “last ditch effort” from Donald Trump’s attorney to delay imposing the $355 million judgment in Attorney General Letitia James’ civil business fraud case against the ex-president.

“Once the judgment is officially entered, it will start the 30-day clock for Trump to file an appeal. During that period, Trump will need to put up cash or post bond to cover the $355 million and roughly $100 million in interest he was ordered to pay the state,” CNN reports.

MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin pointed to an email Judge Engoron sent Trump’s attorney Clifford Robert that reads in part, “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay.”

On social media Rubin notes, “Judge Engoron has reached his limits. It appears that he has signed the judgment and that all that needs to happen now is for the clerk to enter it.”

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

On-air at MSNBC, Rubin explained that Trump’s attorney asked Engoron “to stay the judgment without Donald Trump having to post a bond.”

Robert, according to Rubin, tried to use “a technicality in New York Civil Practice saying they should have filed a motion and they didn’t file a motion, they should have given us notice. We should have been able to counter propose our own judgment.”

Engoron, she continues, asked, “‘What exactly are you objecting to?’ And when Trump’s lawyers couldn’t articulate beyond a small but meaningful error with respect to the calculation of interest for Allen Weisselberg, that was the only real error that they identified. They couldn’t come up with anything else.”

“That’s when Engoron sort of dropped the hammer on them and said, ‘look, enough is enough. You have given me no reason for a stay.”

Rubin notes that at this point, “We’re just waiting for the clerk to start that 30 day clock.”

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Nikki Haley Just Laid the Groundwork to Endorse Donald Trump

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Down in the polls by double digits, former Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who recently took off the kid gloves and has been battering her Republican opponent Donald Trump, just laid the groundwork to endorse the man she calls “unstable and unhinged,” by labeling President Joe Biden “more dangerous.”

“I think what’s really important is to know that the majority of Americans dislike Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in remarks that aired Thursday (audio below). “So we think that there needs to be an alternative.”

“While critical of both men — who she called ‘too old’ to be president — she said ‘Biden is more dangerous’ due to his management of immigration and the economy,” NPR reports. “Haley hinted that, if Biden and Trump were to face a rematch, she would back Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.”

Trump, despite facing 91 criminal felony charges and civil judgments totaling possibly more than a half-billion dollars (including accruing interest,) is beating Haley, the former South Carolina governor. FiveThirtyEight‘s national polling average puts Trump at 77.7% and Haley at 16.4%. Even in her home state, Donald Trump is trouncing Nikki Haley, 63% to 35% in one recent poll, and 63% to 34% in another.

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

Haley did beat the one-term twice-impeached four-times indicted ex-president in January fundraising, a feat some strategists say will allow her to stay in the race longer.

Haley is going directly after Trump, and “launched her sharpest attack yet Tuesday, describing him as getting ‘more unstable and unhinged,'” AFP reported.

“He’s getting meaner and more offensive by the day,” she added. “He’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his demons in the past that he can’t focus on the future Americans deserve.”

She did not stop there.

“It’s not normal to spend $50 million dollars in campaign contributions on personal court cases,” Haley told supporters. “It’s not normal to threaten people who back your opponent, and it’s not normal to call on Russia to invade NATO countries.”

And yet, despite promising her base she will stay in the race even after South Carolina, and despite attacking Trump, Haley is now paving the way to endorse her former boss.

“I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden being president. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos, all they have given us is division,” Haley told NPR.  “We need to starting bringing normalcy back to America and that’s why I think we need to have a new generational leader that focuses on the solutions of the future instead of all the issues of the past.”

READ MORE: Experts Ask if Trump Disclosed Classified Intel After Nuclear Weapons Talk at Town Hall

Haley “compared the ex-president to a ‘bully,’ and stressed that he failed to obtain significant portions of the electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“People don’t like when he goes off the teleprompter and says crazy things like he’d rather take Putin’s side over our allies,” she said. “People don’t like it when he mocks the military. People don’t like it when he calls people names.”

Some think an endorsement from Haley for Donald Trump won’t come.

“Haley endorsing Trump would be career ending for her. MAGA will never support her now. You can’t staddle this. You are either Trump or Never Trump. There is no middle ground between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump,” says former Washington State lawmaker and former state GOP chair Chris Vance, who opposes Donald Trump and describes himself as “a politically homeless Never Trump Conservative.”

Listen to Haley’s remarks to NPR below or at this link.

Image: Haley and Trump in 2020.

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