Policy & Strategy

Rep. Moran flooded with calls after fake news story

Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) on Wednesday criticized a “hurtful” satirical story that said he has introduced a bill requiring all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to register with the Homeland Security Department.

The Duffel Blog’s fake story said Moran’s bill would block veterans from accessing violent war movies on cable or living within 1,000 feet of bars, gun ranges, or liquor stores. The site said the bill also would require veterans to seek approval before moving to a new community while providing authority to lock up “crazed veterans” for 24 hours during July 4 and New Year’s Eve.

Moran said his office was flooded with emails and calls about the story.

“The satirical website ‘Duffelblog.com’ recently posted an article detailing fake legislation that portrayed our nation’s veterans suffering from PTSD in a negative, hurtful, and deliberately provocative light,” Moran said in a statement.

Moran said he has advocated for billions in veteran funding to support those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The article, published Tuesday, had more than 45,000 “likes” on Facebook, and at least 292 retweets on Twitter by Wednesday.

The mental health of veterans has been in the spotlight since Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, killing three and wounding 16 before killing himself. He was being treated for PTSD, depression and anxiety. He had deployed last in 2011.

The shooting has sparked a nationwide debate over whether mental healthcare resources for veterans are sufficient and whether veterans should be allowed to carry guns on bases to protect themselves.  

Veterans have pushed back against news stories portraying them as violent or PTSD-ridden.

The Duffel Blog is run by a group of young veterans and military writers.

“It has come to our attention that Rep. Jim Moran has dissociated himself with an article he said was ‘in poor taste and hurtful to veterans.’ We would just like to point out that what is more hurtful to veterans is false information spread about veterans with PTSD that has permeated in some media circles following a shooting at Fort Hood. A mention of this was unfortunately absent in Moran’s statement,” a Duffel Blog spokesman told The Hill.

“While it is regrettable that Moran’s unpaid interns have been forced to answer phones and emails about his mention in a recent article — the horror — Duffel Blog believes the congressman deserves a substantial pay raise for his handling of this incident. $174,000 per year is not nearly enough for the important work he and all members of Congress are not doing.”

Moran recently said members of Congress should be given a per diem to help them cover the costs of their housing.

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