Fact Check: Video Of Students Wearing Face Masks Was NOT Recorded In 2024 As Post Implies -- It Was Filmed In 2021

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Video Of Students Wearing Face Masks Was NOT Recorded In 2024 As Post Implies -- It Was Filmed In 2021 Filmed In 2021

Does a video circulating on social media in February 2024 show several journalism students who were recently recorded wearing medical-style face masks outdoors? No, that's not true: The video dates back to September 24, 2021 when the Arizona State University students were at the state capitol to cover the release of the Arizona election audit results for Cronkite News. They were confronted by a man named Ethan Schmidt-Crockett, a social media provocateur and president of the Anti Maskers Club. The footage was originally posted on the Anti Maskers Club Telegram channel on September 25, 2021.

The 1:42-minute-long video was published on the Telegram channel @antimaskersclub on September 25, 2021. A 52-second clip from the video (archived here) resurfaced on February 19, 2024, in a post on X by Charlie Kirk. It was captioned:

Aspiring students from @ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism are seen wearing masks outside. When asked why they were still wearing masks outside in 2024, they simply ignored the question and looked at their phones.

They will fit right in at NBC, CNN, and the AZ Republic.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Feb 20 15:30:16 2024 UTC)

Schmidt-Crockett became known for making "ambush-style" videos in which he harassed employees and customers for wearing masks in private businesses having masking requirements throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He calls his confrontational technique of harassment "pressing." A January 8, 2024, article in the Phoenix New Times has a timeline of Schmidt-Crockett's run-ins with the law between February 2018 and December 2023.

The press pass on the lanyard of the man in the foreground of the video shows his last name, Scheske. A graduate of Arizona State University, Nick Scheske is now with WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky. Lead Stories reached out to Scheske by telephone to ask him when this video was filmed. Scheske said on February 20, 2024, he was aware of Kirk's post on X, confirmed that he was one of the people in the video and said that it was filmed on September 24, 2021 -- on the day the Arizona election audit results were released.

The AntiMaskersClub Telegram channel had posted this video (pictured below) on September 25, 2021. The longer version of the video also includes some footage of Cronkite News reporter Payton Muse, as well as shots of Schmidt-Crockett himself speaking to the camera. Schmidt-Crockett reposted a shortened clip of this 2021 footage on Instagram on February 1, 2024. The Instagram post is watermarked with another Telegram account T.ME/ETHANSCHMIDT24. The Instagram caption labeled the journalism students NPCs, an acronym for Nonplayer Character :

#IRL #Live #Infield #AzCapitol #Az #Phoenix #KronkiteNews #Kronkite #asu #woke #endwoke #Npc #EthanSchmidt

(Source: Telegram screenshot taken on Tue Feb 20 17:46:30 2024 UTC)

A forwarded copy of Kirk's post on Telegram, with the same caption as was posted on X, was reposted on the ETHANSCHMIDT24 Telegram channel. Below it Schmidt-Crockett wondered:

Charlie Kirk shared my video ^ is he trying to make peace w the ANTIMASKERSCLUB??

The Cronkite News report from these journalism students was posted on YouTube on September 24, 2021. In the Lead Stories composite images below, screenshots from Schmidt-Crockett's footage is compared with the Cronkite News video. At 3:19 minutes into the report, Payton Muse can be seen in a red dress, and with 51 seconds left in the Telegram video she repeatedly states that she does not want to be filmed by Schmidt-Crockett.

Source: Lead Stories composite image with YouTube and Telegram screenshot taken on Tue Feb 20 19:19:12 2024 UTC)

At 4:29 minutes into the report, two members of the Cronkite News team can be seen in the background dressed as they appear in the Schmidt-Crockett footage.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with YouTube and Telegram screenshot taken on Tue Feb 20 19:19:12 2024 UTC)

Lead Stories has published an article about Ethan Schmidt-Crockett in the past. This was one instance when a claim that may have appeared to be a hoax was actually true. In this case there were warnings circulating that a man had made threats against LGBTQ supporters in Target stores.

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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.

  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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