Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
The U.S. secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has not been arrested. The rumor was started by a website that frequently publishes fabricated stories.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hasn’t been arrested, despite posts online claiming otherwise.
The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The story falsely said that Vilsack was arrested on April 26 by the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps because of his connection with "calculated destruction" of food processing facilities around the country.
PolitiFact previously found no evidence to support claims that said fires at food processing plants were being set intentionally to disrupt the food supply and hasten a food shortage. There also is no evidence that any of the fires have resulted in a food shortage crisis in the U.S.
Real Raw News’ "About Us" page features a disclaimer saying it contains "humor, parody and satire," while calls for donations on its article pages claim that the site fights for "truth and freedom of the press in an oppressed society." There is no satire or parody disclaimer on the story about Vilsack.
There have been no credible reports about Vilsack’s alleged arrest. He had a full schedule on the day he was supposedly taken into custody that included multiple dealings with the press. He has also made several appearances since.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed to PolitiFact in an email that claims of Vilsack’s arrest are "false" and highlighted our previous reporting about Real Raw News’ methods and history of fabrications. Patricia Babb, public affairs officer for the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, also said the claim is false.
We rate it Pants on Fire!
Real Raw News, Military Arrests Biden’s Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, April 29, 2022
Real Raw News, About Us, Accessed May 5, 2022
PolitiFact, Hangings, guillotines and Gitmo: Going behind Real Raw News’ sensational (and fabricated) headlines, Sept. 24, 2021
PolitiFact, Fires at food processing plants are an "attempt to starve us.", April 26, 2022
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Secretary's Public Schedule week of April 25, 2022, Accessed May 5, 2022
Twitter, Secretary Tom Vilsack twitter account, Accessed May 5, 2022
Email interview, Paige Blanchard, press assistant at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, May 5, 2022
Email interview, Patricia Babb, public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, May 5, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.