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We searched Nexis news archives and Google for articles from reputable news organizations and found no reports of Dr. Howard Zucker’s arrest. Zucker is the deputy director of global health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A U.S. Marine Corps spokesperson said that the Marines knew of no arrest of a CDC official.
We traced the claim’s origin to a website known for spreading false claims.
A 15-second TikTok video is spreading unsubstantiated claims about a member of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s leadership team.
"The United States Marines on Friday arrested CDC Deputy Director of Global Health, Dr. Howard Zucker on charges of treason after U.S. Army Cyber Command intercepted several Zoom calls … " read the video’s narrator before the TikTok abruptly ended midsentence.
Viewers who paused the TikTok could read more of the claim, which was shared in a screenshot behind the person narrating the video: "... in which he advocated for abolishing the Constitution and renewing lockdowns and mask mandates to combat the (fictitious) emerging strain of Covid."
(Screenshot from TikTok.)
But this is unsubstantiated. TikTok identified the video as part of its efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read more about PolitiFact’s partnership with TikTok.)
We found no evidence to support the claim that the U.S. Marine Corps arrested a CDC deputy director.
Dr. Howard Zucker, a former New York state health commissioner who oversaw responses to public health crises including Ebola, measles and COVID-19, became the CDC’s deputy director for global health in January. PolitiFact reached out to the CDC and Zucker for comment and did not hear back.
We searched Nexis news archives and Google for articles from reputable news organizations and found no reports of Zucker’s arrest. We also searched court records for any documentation of an arrest or legal disciplinary action and found none.
A U.S. Marine Corps spokesperson said that the Marines knew of no arrest of a CDC official. The spokesperson added that arresting people at their homes or at other locations that are not military installations would be the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, not the Marine Corps.
Using the text in the screenshot and the author’s name, Michael Baxter, which was also visible in the video, we traced the claim back to an article published May 1 by the website Real Raw News. The article was headlined: "Military Arrests CDC Official For Covid Crimes."
A closer look at that article shows its claims are dubious. For example, the story’s second paragraph includes the phrase "encouraged the now-deceased Andrew Cuomo." Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not dead. As recently as May 4, Cuomo’s lawyers subpoenaed five of the 11 women who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment to build the former governor’s defense in a lawsuit.
The Real Raw News website also has a documented history of using false and misleading headlines attached to stories written by "Michael Baxter." Baxter, PolitiFact reported, is a pseudonym for a man whose real name is Michael Tuffin and who is known for promoting far-fetched conspiracy theories.
A TikTok video claimed that the U.S. Marine Corps arrested Zucker, who is a CDC official. We found no evidence to support this, and traced the claim back to a website known for spreading misinformation.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
TikTok video, May 4, 2023
Real Raw News, Military Arrests CDC Official For Covid Crimes, May 1, 2023
PolitiFact, Hangings, guillotines and Gitmo: Going behind Real Raw News’ sensational (and fabricated) headlines, Sept. 24, 2021
Impact Financial News, Former NY State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker, MD Joins APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council, Feb. 26, 2022
Statement from a spokesperson for the U.S. Marine Corps, May 5, 2023
New York State Unified Court System, Attorney Detail Report as of 05/05/2023 for Howard Alan Zucker, May 5, 2023
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