Fact check: Video shows discussion of baseball antitrust exemption, not Disney corruption
The claim: Video shows Cruz unveiling evidence of Disney corruption and demanding Biden resign
A March 29 Facebook video (direct link, archive link) shows a news conference in Washington.
“Ted Cruz SILENCES Biden with SH0CKING 'Disney corruption' proof...asks 'resign now,'” reads the caption.
The video was viewed more than 60,000 times in three days.
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Our rating: False
The video actually shows Sens. Cruz, Josh Hawley and Mike Lee announcing an effort to strip Major League Baseball of its antitrust exemption in 2021. Disney is never mentioned, nor does Cruz call for President Joe Biden to resign. It is an example of a misinformation technique called "false framing".
Senators responding to relocation of All-Star Game
The Facebook video is taken from an April 13, 2021, news conference where the three Republican senators explained why they wanted to remove Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption.
The 15-minute, 45-second clip begins with Cruz’s prepared remarks, which came after Lee’s statement in the full video. Hawley spoke next and then the senators took questions about the bill.
The exemption, unique in professional sports in the U.S., has essentially allowed the league to act as a monopoly since 1922. But when Major League Baseball announced April 6, 2021, that it would move the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in response to new voting laws in Georgia, it raised the hackles of the senators.
Supporters of the voting law changes in Georgia argued they would restore voters' confidence in the election process and improve election security. Civil rights advocates argued the restrictions would suppress voters, particularly Black voters. Some of Georgia's largest corporations came out against the changes after the legislation passed, and Cruz focused his remarks at the news conference on “the rise of the woke corporation.”
Missing from the video clip is any mention of Disney or a suggestion of corruption there. The entertainment giant is now locked in a dispute with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after it opposed laws that now limit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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Cruz briefly mentions Biden, saying he “spread partisan lies about the Georgia law,“ but he never suggests in the clip that Biden resign.
USA TODAY has debunked numerous posts that pair false captions with videos of politicians or cable news programming, a type of misinformation known as "false framing."
Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, previously told USA TODAY the technique works in two ways. First, users tend to trust a post that features authentic footage from what they recognize as a credible source. This style of misinformation then exploits how users often scroll past the video with the sound off, never realizing that the caption doesn’t match what the video shows.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment.
Our fact-check sources:
Senator Ted Cruz (YouTube), April 13, 2021, Cruz, Lee, Hawley Announce Legislation to Subject Professional Baseball Clubs to Antitrust Laws
Ted Cruz, April 13, 2021, Sen. Cruz: If the MLB Plays Partisan Games, They Won't Get Exemptions from Washington
Mike Caulfield, Oct. 18, 2022, Email interview with USA TODAY
USA TODAY, April 10, 2021, Georgia voting law explained: Here's what to know about the state's new election rules
USA TODAY, April 13, 2021, What is MLB's antitrust exemption? Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley using baseball's century-old golden goose as political cudgel
USA TODAY, Nov. 4, 2022, Fact check: Video shows House GOP criticizing Jan. 6 committee, not laughing at Liz Cheney
NBC News, April 6, 2021, MLB's All-Star Game moved to Denver in wake of Georgia restricting voter access
Orlando Sentinel, March 29, DeSantis’ Reedy Creek board says Disney stripped its power
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Video shows senators taking on baseball All-Star Game move