How One Mom Got Caught in a 'Fake News' Battle Involving J.K. Rowling and Donald Trump

By Quinn, Melissa | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, August 4, 2017 | Go to article overview

How One Mom Got Caught in a 'Fake News' Battle Involving J.K. Rowling and Donald Trump


Quinn, Melissa, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Marjorie Weer was baking a frozen pizza at her home in South Carolina when she first learned about the tweets.

It was the night of July 29, a Saturday, and the cousin of Weer's husband, Kevin, sent them a post from conservative commentator Steven Crowder titled, "J.K. Rowling RAGES over Trump Snubbing Handicapped Kid. Except it Never Happened..."

The post, published on Crowder's blog, included a 25-second video clip of a scene the Weer family had lived just a few days earlier on July 24: Marjorie, Kevin, their son Monty, in his wheelchair, and daughter, Evangeline, joined by other families in the Blue Room of the White House.

The family, along with several others, had been invited there to share their Obamacare experiences with President Trump.

Weer had been looking forward to talking about how the 2010 healthcare law had impacted her young family. But instead, her experience at the White House had, days later, been usurped by the video clip circulating the Internet, thrusting the family into the middle of one of the "fake news" stories Trump so frequently rails against.

The event at the White House took place hours before the Senate voted on three different bills overhauling the healthcare system, all of which failed, and there in the Blue Room, Trump gave brief remarks discussing the struggles Americans like Weer had with Obamacare.

After his speech, Trump walked down the row of families, shaking hands.

He shook Marjorie Weer and Kevin Weer's hands, patted Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the arm, and then walked out of the room.

But outside observers had noticed something in video: It was Monty, in his wheelchair, reaching up toward Trump with his left hand.

Someone published the clip from the 13-minute event on YouTube and alleged Trump had ignored 3-year-old Monty's requests for a handshake. The video circulated on Twitter, and caught the attention of Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" series.

"Trump imitated a disabled reporter. Now he pretends not to see a child in a wheelchair, as though frightened he might catch his condition," Rowling said referencing Monty, who has spina bifida, in one of eight tweets transmitted to her 11.4 million followers on Friday, July 28.

"This monster of narcissism values only himself and his pale reflections. The disabled, minorities, transgender people, the poor, women (unless related to him by ties of blood, and therefore his creations) are treated with contempt, because they do not resemble Trump," she continued.

"How stunning and how horrible, that Trump cannot bring himself to shake the hand of a small boy who only wanted to touch the President," the Harry Potter author continued.

Thousands, including Chelsea Clinton, retweeted Rowling.

But there was a problem with the author's commentary: Her interpretation of the scene -- Trump 'pretending' not to see Monty in his wheelchair -- was incorrect.

"It was so over-the-top wrong," Weer told the Washington Examiner. "I thought it had to be from the Onion or something. ... We laughed. We thought it was funny because it was so not true, so not near the realm it truth, it had to be made up."

Monty, his mother said, was not trying to shake the president's hand, as Rowling and so many others had assumed. Instead, he was showing off a patch he received from a U.S. Secret Service agent earlier in the day.

Weer and her husband let Monty hold the patch during the event in the Blue Room to keep him occupied during Trump's remarks, and Monty showed it to all he encountered at the White House that day.

"My son doesn't shake hands. He's 3. We're not that good of parents who have taught a 3-year-old to shake hands," Weer said jokingly.

She posted a similar statement to her Facebook page -- which Weer later deactivated -- in an effort to clear up the confusion, hoping the message would get back to Rowling.

Weer's appeal seems to have worked, because Rowling deleted her tweets Monday and apologized, saying if "that caused any distress to that boy or his family, I apologize unreservedly. …

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