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Viral story about a false viral story was also false

The chaotic legal odyssey over a Michigan man's driving license that has the nation on edge took a new turn yesterday when he appeared in court again shortly after a video showed him behind the wheel of a car while joining a hearing via Zoom reportedly on a charge of driving without a license.

“This concerns driving with a suspended license,” Judge J. Cedric Simpson of 14A District Court in Washtenaw County said May 15. “That is correct, your honor,” a public defender responded.

As it turns out, that wasn't actually true. At least not literally, because the defendant, Corey Harris, apparently never had a license.

“He has never had a license, ever,” Simpson said Wednesday. “And he has never had a license in any of the other 49 states or Commonwealths that make up this country.”

This revelation is just the latest twist in a story that has made massive national headlines, garnering more headlines than a death wish at Six Flags. The original viral story – that Harris had been stripped of his license – was reported in media outlets ranging from USA today To The Washington Post to Fox News, CNN, NBC and so on.

A report of WXYZ Detroit questioned this, pointing to court records showing that a judge lifted Harris' suspension in January 2022 after those privileges were suspended for unpaid child support. While that did happen, the claim that his driver's license had been submitted for reinstatement was also false because there was no driver's license to reinstate. So there were updates to the original reporting and then updates to the updates because basically everyone was wrong on a fundamental level. including me in an article I wrote questioning the usefulness of the national press bringing a man's driving problems to court. (The image below from The Daily Beast is probably the clearest example of the whiplash this news cycle causes.)

The Daily Beast

(The Daily Beast)

Simpson declined to comment through his legal coordinator. The fact that Harris did not have a license was news to his defense attorney, Dionne Webster-Cox. She told the media that she learned about it along with the rest of the world during Wednesday's hearing and found the revelation “absolutely shocking.” (She did not respond to a request for comment.) Harris himself was released after a Press tour on sitehe entered court yesterday wearing a yellow shirt with the words “Trust me” on it. Readers can decide for themselves whether that is wise.

But there is at least a grain of truth in one of his statements: “I have been attacked, I have been stalked, I have been laughed at, I have been ridiculed, I have been disrespected,” Harris said. told WXYZ. At least some of this is, unfortunately, to be expected when the majority of the media decides that your driver's license – or lack thereof – should be of interest to the entire country.

The post “Viral story about false, viral story was also false” first appeared on Reason.com.