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Manipulated quote attributed to Alec Baldwin before fatal prop gun shooting is fake

Following news that Baldwin fired a prop gun that resulted in one person dying and another being injured, a fake quote attributed to the actor circulated online.
Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Actor Alec Baldwin attends the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in New York.

Authorities in New Mexico say actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of “Rust” that caused the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. When news of the incident broke, people had questions about what exactly happened.

As people searched for details about the fatal shooting, a manipulated screenshot to an excerpt from what appeared to be a story from Variety made the rounds on social media, including this tweet that was shared more than 500 times. One of the sentences in the excerpt said, “According to an on-set source, the director had called for another take when Baldwin (jokingly) remarked "Another take? How about I just [expletive] shoot the both of ya?" before firing on the pair.”

THE QUESTION

Is an excerpt that says Alec Baldwin made a threatening comment before the fatal prop gun shooting real?

THE SOURCES

  • Gene Maddaus, enterprise reporter with Variety
  • Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Wayback Machine, a digital archive tool

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the quote is not real and the image was edited. One of the authors of the Variety story told VERIFY that the sentence pictured in the screenshots was never reported in the story. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The excerpt with the made-up edits was lifted from a real Variety article about the incident, which was posted at 3:50 p.m. PT on Oct. 21. 

Gene Maddaus, an enterprise reporter with Variety and one of the authors of the story, said the sentence that says Alec Baldwin made a threatening comment before the shooting was never printed.

“We didn’t report it or write it and we have no reason to believe it is remotely true,” he told VERIFY.

In a search through the Wayback Machine digital archive tool, VERIFY did not find any instance in which the remarks were quoted in the original reporting. No other media outlet, nor police reports included the threatening comments.

The Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting. The agency has not released any information corroborating the manipulated excerpt.

In a news release, the agency says the investigation into the shooting “remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.”

SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION

Another example of the doctored image with the edits can be seen here. The tweet has since been deleted and archived. (Note: VERIFY surfaced the tweet using the Wayback Machine digital archive tool).

The since-deleted tweet was retweeted more than 80 times, including by John Cardillo, a conservative television personality. Cardillo has more than 272,000 followers on Twitter. 

VERIFY also found the screenshot of the doctored excerpt posted at around 5 a.m. on an anonymous imageboard, and is one of the earliest versions found and posted online. The photo and comments were posted in a response on a thread claiming Baldwin was a murderer. 

VERIFY could not confirm the exact origin of the edited excerpt.

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