March 5, 2020 / 1:46 PM / a month ago

False claim: Ron Howard writes viral open letter on being Liberal

An old claim that American director, producer and actor Ron Howard wrote a viral open letter on being a Liberal resurfaced recently on social media. The letter lists 15 beliefs held by “the majority of Liberals” on healthcare, education, social programs, and more. The claim has been shared at least 5,000 both as an organic post and as an article, as of March 3, 2020 including by actress Debra Messing here and as an article here , the latter including a photograph of Howard alongside the text.

This is false. This essay was not written by Ron Howard. It was originally posted on social media by Lori Gallagher Witt in January 7, 2018.  The original Facebook post (see here) has over 22,000 shares, as of March 3, 2020. So far, still only a few posts acknowledge how the content has been misattributed (see examples here and here). 

“I didn’t think it would go viral. It really was just meant to be a breakdown of my beliefs for conservative friends and family who didn’t realize I was a liberal. I was tired of seeing people say ‘liberals believe...’ followed by utter nonsense. It’s actually gone viral a few times since then, usually with someone copying and pasting it after removing my name, nearly always with a man’s name on it. Make of that what you will — same words with a man’s name attached, way more traction”, Gallagher told Reuters. 

While some users on social media have acknowledged this claim as misinformation and even reference the author (see here), Gallagher’s “open letter” continues to resurface online, mostly misattributed to Ron Howard, on social media posts and blogs (an example of a recent post from February 12, 2020 here).  

According to Gallagher, the Howard misattribution started in January 2020, when a user named that happened to share a name with Ron Howard the filmmaker posted the text without properly quoting her. “Literally within 24 hours, people were posting it as originating from THE Ron Howard, and it went wild from there even after the other Ron corrected his post after I contacted him”. 

Reuters could not find this post, but other posts that include the text “From Ron Howard, January 24 at 5:41am” do validate Gallagher’s timeline. (Two examples that include this timestamp are visible here and here).

While Ron Howard did not write the statement in this claim, the filmmaker has openly spoken about politics on several occasions. On November 7, 2016 Howard tweeted that he was voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, but that he has voted for both parties before (see Tweet here). Howard has also publicly expressed his thoughts on President Trump. On January 1, 2020 he referred to him as a “self-serving, dishonest, morally bankrupt ego maniac who doesn’t care about anything or anyone but his Fame & bank account & is hustling the US” (see Tweet here). More recently he encouraged his followers to vote in the Democratic Primary (here)/.  

Ron Howard is yet to respond to Reuters’ request for a statement on this misattribution. 

This claim is therefore false. While Ron Howard has publicly talked about his political views, he did not write a viral open letter on being liberal. The post was originally written by Lori Gallagher Witt and posted on Facebook in 2018.

VERDICT

False: Ron Howard did not write a viral open letter on being Liberal. The widely-shared post was written by Lori Gallagher in 2018.  

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