Fact Check: US Military Did NOT Arrest 'Moderna Chemist' Melissa J. Moore -- It's Satire

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: US Military Did NOT Arrest 'Moderna Chemist' Melissa J. Moore -- It's Satire Satirical Site

Did the U.S. military place "Moderna chemist" Melissa J. Moore under arrest for developing a "mRNA clot shot" for the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer? No, that's not true: A Moderna spokesperson told Lead Stories that this claim is "false." Also, the website where this claim was made has a disclaimer that states it publishes satirical content.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) that featured an article published by Real Raw News on August 30, 2023, titled "Military Arrests Moderna Clot Shot Creator" (archived here). It opened:

A prominent Moderna chemist, Melissa J. Moore, was arrested at her Everett, Massachusetts, home Sunday evening after trying to evade U.S. Navy JAG investigators who had been surveilling the residence and awaiting an opportunity to serve a military arrest warrant.

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

RRN Moderna Chemist Melissa J. Moore.png

(Source: Twitter.com screenshot taken on Fri Sept 01 15:24:43 2023 UTC)

In response to an inquiry from Lead Stories, a Moderna spokesperson wrote via email on September 1, 2023:

This is obviously false, as is the mention of Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel in the same article.

No evidence suggests otherwise: Moore remained active on her LinkedIn account following the publication of the post and Real Raw News article.

Screenshot 2023-09-01 at 6.46.20 PM.png

(Source: Linkedin screenshot taken on Fri Sept 1 22:46:39 2023 UTC)

A Google News search using the keywords "Military Arrests Moderna chemist Melissa J. Moore" produced no results substantiating the post's and article's claim.

Under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the military does not have the authority to arrest civilians. This act can be voided under certain circumstances explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution or Act of Congress. Congress.gov does not show legislation making such authorization.

Lead Stories contacted the U.S. Navy about Real Raw News' claim and will update this fact check if a response is received.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks that mention "Moderna" and "Real Raw News" can be read here.

Real Raw News

Real Raw News is a website that consistently publishes made-up stories about U.S. politics. The well-written English and news-style layout of the website make it look like a legitimate news source, so it often fools people into believing the stories are real. Screenshots and copies of the stories regularly turn up on other websites or on social media where they are presented as real.

It bills itself as "humor, parody and satire" on its About Us page (archived here):


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.

The same "about" page claims the main author is a man named Michael Baxter. In 2021 a PolitiFact article (archived here) identified the writer as a "Michael Tuffin" in Texas based on records found in a GoFundMe campaign set up to support the site.

NewsGuard, a tool that provides credibility ratings for websites, published a five-page PDF report (archived here) in 2021 describing realrawnews.com as, "An anonymously run website that has published baseless and debunked conspiracies about COVID-19 and U.S. politics." It cautioned that the website severely violates basic journalistic standards."

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

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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