Politics: Fact check: Claim that Jen Psaki suggested Taco Bell for Thanksgiving started as satire

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The claim: Jen Psaki told families to consider Taco Bell for Thanksgiving amid inflation concerns

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. © Susan Walsh, AP White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

As Americans shop for Thanksgiving groceries and make travel plans to see family and friends, frustration over inflation and record-high gas prices continues to dog the Biden administration.

On social media, hundreds of people shared Facebook posts claiming White House press secretary Jen Psaki advised struggling families to replace their traditional holiday meal with fast food.

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"Inflation is hurting all of us," Psaki supposedly told reporters, according to a now-deleted Facebook post from the page The Real Deal of Parenting. "The Value Menu at Taco Bell is just as tasty and a lot more affordable.”

The post, which was shared more than 280 times after it was posted Nov. 23, also included a screenshot of a tweet criticizing the comment.

"The White House tells families to consider Taco Bell this Thanksgiving," reads the tweet, which was also published Nov. 23 by The Real Deal of Parenting. "The wealth of knowledge and recommendations from our leadership is simply invaluable."

But there's no evidence Psaki made these comments. The claim stems from a satire account on Instagram.

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USA TODAY reached out to several social media users who shared the post for comment.

Claim originated as satire

Transcripts from White House press briefings do not indicate Psaki suggested substituting Thanksgiving dinner with Taco Bell. There's also no evidence she made that statement to reporters.

The claim in The Real Deal of Parenting's posts stems from a made-up headline published by a satirical Instagram account.

"White House tells families to consider Taco Bell this Thanksgiving," reads the headline, published Nov. 22. It also features a photo of Psaki at a White House press briefing and the quote used in the Facebook post.

The original post on Instagram resembles a preview of a news article. However, a label on the image reads “@beep.satire."

The Instagram account, which has more than 20,000 followers, publishes "satire, jokes, & media flops," according to its profile. Many of its posts feature made-up headlines.

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The claim is an example of what could be called stolen satire, in which made-up claims published and labeled as satire are reposted in a way that makes them appear to be legitimate news. As a result, readers of the second-generation post are misled, as was the case here.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Psaki told families to consider Taco Bell for Thanksgiving amid inflation concerns. The claim originated on the satirical Instagram page Beep News, which says its content is “100% fake news.” There is no proof Psaki ever made the comments attributed to her in the post.

Our fact-check sources:

  • USA TODAY, Nov. 23, US to release 50M barrels from strategic oil reserve amid soaring gas prices
  • @dangjones, Nov. 24, Tweet (archived)
  • Regan Long, Nov. 23, Tweet (archived)
  • @stfl2341, Nov. 23, Tweet (archived)
  • The Real Deal of Parenting, Nov. 23, Tweet (archived)
  • The Real Deal of Parenting, Nov. 23, Facebook post (archived)
  • Brittanica.com, accessed Nov. 24, Did Marie-Antoinette Really Say "Let Them Eat Cake?"
  • The White House, accessed Nov. 23, Press Briefings Archives
  • Beep News, Nov. 23, Instagram post
  • Beep News, Nov. 23, Instagram page
  • The Hispanic Veteran, Nov. 23, Facebook post (archived)

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim that Jen Psaki suggested Taco Bell for Thanksgiving started as satire

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