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German star Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds) wanted to join a chorus of actors this week in condemning the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
Unfortunately, Schweiger, one of Germany’s biggest box-office draws, didn’t check his facts.
Following the election, Schweiger posted a comment on his Facebook page with an alleged Trump comment from an interview with Time in 1998.
“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country,” the quote reads. “They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
But the Time interview never happened. The quote, which had circulated widely online, was a fake and had been revealed as such by fact-checking sites such as Snopes.com.
Schweiger’s fans, and his many haters online, joined together to blast the actor for his error. “[Trump] said things that were a lot worse,” read one comment from someone who noted that they were not a Trump supporter. “But making false statements is a form of propaganda.”
Others called out Schweiger’s mistake as an example of the lies supposedly propagated by the mainstream media; using the German word Lugenpresse, for “lying press,” one commentator wrote: “The stupid public believes the Lugenpresse. Don’t believe any statistic you haven’t faked yourself…. That goes for pictures and everything else.”
Schweiger responded by removing the post and replacing it with a statement that he didn’t know the quote was fake. “It just sounded too authentic,” he wrote, as a way of apologizing. “After all, he did say, in front of running cameras, that he could shoot someone and would still get elected. But it still shouldn’t have happened. I ask for your forgiveness!”
Schweiger ended his post with a video of President Barack Obama. “Here’s the man we’ll all miss,” the actor wrote.
Schweiger has not been shy in expressing his political opinions, even when they generate major controversy and online animosity. He has been among the most prominent supporters of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, which opened the borders to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing famine and war in Syria and Afghanistan. Next week, Schweiger will open a kindergarten for refugee children he helped finance through his own charitable foundation.
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