Indiana restaurant story wrongly attributed to USA TODAY | Fact check

indiana restaurant story wrongly attributed to usa today | fact check

Fort Wayne’s culinary scene is as vibrant as its public art. Take the Hoppy Gnome, for instance, where you can find local ingredients transformed into tantalizing tacos, such as the Bob Marley made with smoked jerk chicken, hemp seeds and pineapple salsa. Meals go great with a hometown GnomeTown Brewing Co. beer.

The claim: USA TODAY reported on restaurant’s decision to remain open

A Feb. 16 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) shows the seating area of a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A USA TODAY logo is superimposed on the image.

“Fort Wayne restaurant ‘The Hoppy Gnome’ threatens to stay in business,” the headline reads.

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The caption adds, “The worst news I’ve seen in a long time.”

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Our rating: Altered

The image was altered to include the fabricated headline and logo. USA TODAY did not publish the report, a spokesperson for the news organization said. The restaurant did not make the announcement attributed to it, its general manager said.

Restaurant ‘report’ didn’t originate from USA TODAY

USA TODAY did not report or publish a story about The Hoppy Gnome, a company spokesperson said.

“The image circulating on Facebook using an outdated USA TODAY logo is fake,” the spokesperson said. “The USA TODAY fact-checking team has reported the false content to halt the spread of misinformation.”

The Hoppy Gnome was featured in a photograph for a 2019 USA TODAY article covering food and culture in the city. But the restaurant has not been the subject of any USA TODAY reports since then.

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Joe Sirk, the restaurant’s general manager, told USA TODAY the restaurant did not make that announcement.

“The Hoppy Gnome is happy to be a part of Fort Wayne and is currently celebrating its ninth year downtown,” Sirk said. “We look forward to many years of being a part of the food scene in this wonderful city we call home. We have not made the claim ‘threatening to stay in business,’ and apologize for those who spread false information.”

USA TODAY previously debunked claims involving fabrications it did not publish, including an article about a Harvard medical student discovering a secret mineral for weight loss and a video purporting to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s security guard starting a “drunken” brawl in New York City.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Joe Sirk, Feb. 20, Email exchange with USA TODAY
  • USA TODAY spokesperson, Feb. 20, Email exchange with USA TODAY

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USA TODAY is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, which requires a demonstrated commitment to nonpartisanship, fairness and transparency. Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Meta.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Indiana restaurant story wrongly attributed to USA TODAY | Fact check

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