Fact Check: Former CNN Correspondent Barbara Starr Is NOT A Mass Shooting Crisis Actor

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Former CNN Correspondent Barbara Starr Is NOT A Mass Shooting Crisis Actor Not Same Lady

Is former CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr a mass shooting crisis actor? No, that's not true: The images used in the social media post purporting to show Starr at shootings and bombings in the United States are not photos of Starr. Lead Stories found the originals of two of the images in the post. Neither shows Starr. She reported on several of the events but was not photographed at the location of the ones mentioned in the post. The term "crisis actor" is part of the debunked conspiracy theory surrounding mass shootings and other deadly events.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) where it was published on Facebook on March 12, 2024. It opened:


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

Screen Shot 2024-03-19 at 12.03.54 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Mar 19 18:38:00 2024 UTC)

There are four photographs in the post, which are used to imply that Starr was "on the scene as a witness crisis actor." The term describes conspiracy claims that mass shooting victims and witnesses are paid to appear at events staged by a shadowy cabal that seeks to manipulate the public with horrific fake events.

There is no evidence presented with the photos to show that Starr is the person in the image nor if she was at the location of the events, two of which were mass shootings: the 26-fatality attack focusing on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 and the 14-fatality 2015 attack on employees of San Bernardino County, California .

Photos labelled "Boston" and "Watertown" likely refer to the 2013 domestic terrorist bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, in which three were killed and 200 injured. The manhunt ended in nearby Watertown.

Lead Stories has matched two of the four images in the post with original footage and neither of them are of Barbara Starr. She was the Pentagon correspondent for CNN during the time of the incidents in the post. She was not a reporter that traveled to the site of the incidents. There is no evidence that the other images in the post are of Starr.

The image of the woman in the post labelled "Sandy Hook" was taken from a video posted on YouTube (archived here) by reporter Vinnie O'Dowd, who is currently with the BBC. The video posted December 15, 2021, is titled, "Friends of Nancy Lanza Tell me what sort of woman she was," and the caption reads:

Victoria Munoz and Dan Holmes, friends of Nancy Lanza describe their relationship with the murderers mother.

The woman in the video is wearing sunglasses and a green hat, exactly what the woman in the post is wearing. This is not Barbara Starr.

A Google search (archived here) of the CNN website with the keywords "barbara starr sandy hook 2012," yields zero results. As the Pentagon correspondent, Starr was not sent to Newtown, Connecticut for reporting.

The image of the woman in the photo labelled "Boston," referring to the bombing that happened at the marathon in Boston on April 15, 2013, is from an on-the-street interview that aired on CNN, and it was a clip from news station WCVB in Boston that was shown with other news clips, as this archived version of the video shows. At :34 in the video, a woman at the scene of the bombing is seen talking, wearing the same blue shirt as the woman in the post. The logo of WCVB is in the top right corner of the screen, as is the CNN logo on the lower right corner, as this screenshot shows:

Screen Shot 2024-03-19 at 11.49.30 AM.png

(Source: YouTube archive screenshot taken on Tue Mar 19 18:50:12 2024 UTC)

According to a CNN transcript (archived here) from April 16, 2013, the day following the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, Starr was on air reporting live from the Pentagon, not Boston.

Starr contributed to a CNN report (archived here) on December 2, 2015, regarding the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Lead Stories reached out to Barbara Starr for comment and will update the post when a response is received.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about "crisis actors" can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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