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Plenty of people have been fooled by fake viral news, but most don’t host a national television show.
“I’ve seen some amazing things out there just looking at television over the weekend,” Watters said. “Alligators on people’s back door steps. I saw a shark on a highway swimming in the water.” (He also referenced seeing a hawk sitting in a taxi cab.)
The alligator and hawk anecdotes are real, but the shark one — which Watters said was “like Sharknado” — was a photoshopped image perpetrated by a Twitter user who wanted to make a point about the importance of verifying breaking news. The fact-checking publication Politifact rated the claim “pants on fire” and the image is several years old.
On Tuesday afternoon, Watters apologized for the mix-up on Twitter. “Yesterday, I made a comment about a shark in the floodwaters in Texas,” he wrote. “I sincerely apologize if I caused concern or alarm to anyone. The folks there and beyond are suffering unimaginable hardships. My heart goes out to them.”
The segment on The Five seems to be the only instance of a cable news program falling for the shark hoax, according to a search of television broadcasts using the Critical Mention monitoring service.
Fox News has not yet said whether Watters will correct the record on air tonight. The comment arrives after the 12:30 mark in the below clip.
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