Ken Starr is not dead, though a viral hoax may have fooled some people into thinking the former special prosecutor who led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment died en route to testifying about Hillary Clinton’s alleged misdeeds.
The report of Starr’s alleged death has been spreading on social media, seeming to fit into a narrative that Hillary Clinton was wielding her power to cover up allegations of wrongdoing. The post first appeared on the site Conservative Flash News, claiming that Starr’s plane went down in Maryland en route to Washington, D.C.
“Starr was on Trey Gowdy’s witness program and he was supposed to appear before the congressman’s special investigative committee that has recently found itself investigating crimes from the 1990s,” the report claimed.
No part of the story was true, including the alleged committee investigating crimes of Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the fake report struck a nerve with many people, garnering thousands of shares online and leading to reports from other sites including one called Daily USA Update.
The post claiming that Ken Starr died was originally posted on March 24, but has gone viral in the days since first being posted, eliciting a response from the fact-checking organization PolitiFact.
“The story, which is fake, said Starr was flying to Washington when his plane crashed in Wilkershire, Md. — a town that, as far as we can tell, does not exist,” PolitiFact noted. “The post said five people were killed in the crash.”
Interestingly, the report about Ken Starr’s alleged death comes just days after a Senate Intelligence Committee heard evidence that Russia generated a large amount of fake conspiracy theories directed at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Others have suggested that Russia employed an army of online trolls to spread this fake news on social media.
“I created this list of Russian trolls when I was researching. And I check on it once in a while, still. And a lot of them have turned into conservative accounts, like fake conservatives. I don’t know what’s going on, but they’re all tweeting about Donald Trump and stuff,” journalist Adam Chen said in a podcast with Longform (via the Independent).
The story claiming that Ken Starr died in a plane crash fits a theme of other fake stories that popped up during the 2016 election related to Hillary Clinton. After Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed in Washington, D.C., in what police described as a robbery gone wrong, many sites claimed that it was Clinton and other high-level Democrats who had Rich killed in order to keep him silent.
Some claimed that Rich was the true source of emails leaked to WikiLeaks, though there was no evidence to support this idea and no evidence that any of the high-level Democrats had any involvement in Rich’s death.
While he is alive and well, Ken Starr has some trouble of his own. He was recently embroiled in a sexual assault scandal at Baylor University, where he served as president before being forced out of the job.
The Washington Post had details of the scandal.
“Starr was president of Baylor from 2010 until May 2016, when the school released a findings-of-fact report by Pepper Hamilton, an outside law firm hired to investigate allegations of rape and other abuses committed by football players and not adequately responded to by the athletic department staff and other university officials. In the wake of the report, head football coach Art Briles was fired and Baylor announced that Starr was being demoted to chancellor. He resigned from the school a few days later.”
Not only is Ken Starr still alive, but he may have a quick recovery from the Baylor scandal. Reports last month noted that Starr is being considered by Donald Trump for a high-level job at the State Department.
[Featured Image by Paul Sakuma-Pool/Getty Images]