Washington (AFP) - Why have French rioters been battling police in Paris? Because they want to be led by Trump, according to a theory retweeted by the president himself Tuesday and subsequently debunked.
"'We want Trump' being chanted through the streets of Paris," said conservative student activist Charlie Kirk in a tweet relayed by the president to his more than 56 million Twitter followers.
Most demonstrators have expressed anger over plans to increase fuel taxes and more general anger at inequality in France.
Reprising one of Trump's favorite themes, Kirk tweeted that the media was failing to report the real story.
"There are riots in socialist France because of radical leftist fuel taxes. Media barely mentioning this," Kirk wrote, although the fuel tax issue has been given blanket coverage around the world.
"America is booming, Europe is burning They want to cover up the middle class rebellion against cultural Marxism," he wrote in the punctuation- and grammar-light message.
Although Trump repeatedly rails against what he calls "fake news" disseminated by major media outlets, like CNN or the The New York Times, AFP fact checkers determined that the story about the pro-Trump French protesters is a textbook example of fake news.
Kirk is the first to be retweeted by the US president. However, others have made the same claim about the protesters.
On December 3, several English-language online media, as well as right-wing American radio host Rush Limbaugh, reported that French protesters were chanting for Trump.
These reports were all based on a video posted on Twitter on December 2 by user @jackwhite, which was retweeted more than 17,000 times. In the video, a man wearing a Trump mask stands atop a bus, while a crowd of hundreds of protesters chant, "We want Trump."
However, the video was not shot during the "yellow vests" protests shaking Paris or in France at all. The video was shot during a protest for the release of Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League, a British far-right organization.
The police officers' uniforms visible in @jackwhite's video are clearly English, not French, and the protesters chant in English. In a second video shared on Twitter in June 2018, #FreeTommyRobinson signs and English flags can be seen.