Fake News: Bernie Sanders Is NOT Seeking Medical Release From Life Sentence In Prison

Fact Check

  • by: Ryan Cooper

Is U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, seeking medical release from a life sentence in prison because he's in the final stages of terminal kidney disease? No, that's not true: The tweet suggesting this mentioned the wrong Bernie, and Axios has since deleted it. In actuality, Bernie Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer, is seeking medical release from prison.

The claim originated from a now-deleted tweet (archived here) that other users screen-captured and shared on February 5, 2020. It opened:

Bernie Sanders is seeking medical release from a life sentence in prison because he is in the final stages of terminal kidney disease, he told The Washington Post.


Users on social media saw this:

The original tweet only stayed up less than two minutes before Axios realized it had made a typo and had referenced Bernie Sanders instead of Bernie Madoff.

Axios deleted the errant tweet and wrote a corrected version without acknowledging the previous mistake. The article the tweet links to on its website never mentioned the error.

The only acknowledgment of the mistake was a reply to CNN's Andrew Kaczynski:

Kate Conger, a technology reporter for The New York Times, pointed out the mistake on her Twitter feed, and it has been shared hundreds of times. Quite possibly, some users do not realize the original Axios tweet was a typo.

Users on social media took jabs at Axios for not owning up to the mistake:

Madoff, 81, is currently serving a 150-year sentence after being convicted of spearheading the biggest Ponzi scheme in modern U.S. history. He defrauded thousands of investors around the world, according to The Washington Post.

He is in the final stages of kidney disease and is seeking compassionate release from prison so he can die at home.

  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

Different viewpoints

Note: if reading this fact check makes you want to contact us to complain about bias, please check out our Red feed first.

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion