Fact Check: US Military Did NOT Sentence Tom Vilsack To Hang

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: US Military Did NOT Sentence Tom Vilsack To Hang Fictional News

Did a military tribunal sentence Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, to hang? No, that's not true: A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) told Lead Stories that this claim is false. A duty officer for the Pentagon told us that this story was "ridiculous" and "untrue." Real Raw News, the website that published this story, is a satirical site that often creates false stories about arrests, military tribunals and executions of politicians, celebrities and world leaders. A disclaimer on the site tells readers their content is for "entertainment purposes."

The claim appeared in an article published by Real Raw News on May 10, 2022, titled "Military Sentences Vilsack to Hang" (archived here), which opened:

At his military tribunal on Monday, an unrepentant Thomas J. Vilsack tried to lecture Vice Adm. Darse E. Crandall on the benefits of socialism, arguing that unregulated access to limitless, inexpensive food had transformed America into a nation of obese sloths.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Military Sentences Vilsack to Hang | Real Raw News

The article continued:

'Enlightened world,' Vice Adm. Crandall repeated ponderously. 'China and Venezuela, sure, but the world, well, that's a stretch, detainee Vilsack. You stand accused of treason, a crime punishable by death. If you wish to confess, leniency might be shown.' 'I admit to nothing except serving my country,' Vilsack said.

Lead Stories reached out to the USDA about the claim. On May 10, 2022, a USDA spokesperson responded that the story was false. We then emailed the Pentagon to ask if the military had sentenced Vilsack to be hanged. A duty officer for the Pentagon responded to us on May 10, 2022, with "... this is ridiculous and untrue."

Vilsack, meanwhile, appeared on May 10, 2022, before a Senate subcommittee to discuss the Biden administration's 2023 budget request for the Department of Agriculture.

Lead Stories previously debunked the Real Raw News claim that Vilsack was arrested in April 2022 by U.S. military "white hats."

Real Raw News has a long history of publishing false claims in mock news stories, many of them about convictions and executions of various public figures at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. For example, the site reported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hanged (she wasn't); former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was executed (he wasn't); and that "the military" convicted former Attorney General William Barr on charges of treason (it didn't).

The website for Real Raw News includes a disclaimer that warns readers not to take its content too seriously. Specifically, it says:

Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

Real Raw snip.jpg

(Source: RealRawNews.com screenshot taken Tue Aug 3 16:39:48 UTC 2021)

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items is collected here.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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