Sen. Cory Booker tweeted out and posted a fake Benjamin Franklin quote on Facebook Monday to attack President Donald Trump and the new administration.
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. Benjamin Franklin,” he tweeted early Monday. The fake quote, as of 3:40 p.m. EST, has garnered 6,566 likes, 2,771 retweets and 278 replies on Twitter, and 8,900 reactions and 1,017 shares on Facebook.
He also tweeted an authentic quote by Leonardo da Vinci: “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Leonardo da Vinci.” This was most likely in reference to the riots the night before the inauguration and the Women’s March protests Saturday.
The Daily Caller News Foundation contacted Dr. Blaine McCormick, chair of the Department of Management at Baylor University and a Franklin scholar, to verify the authenticity of the quote.
He called the phrase a “hoax,” and not “a valid Franklin quote.”
This does not appear to me to be a valid Franklin quote. It doesn’t even sound 18th century, does it? “Questioning authority” is a much more modern idea. Franklin was more into “rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”.
But let’s not trust my “ear” to detect if this sounds appropriately Colonial. Let’s check: The first place I look is the Franklin Papers at Yale University and the quote does not surface. You will find the “rebellion to tyrants” quote in the papers, though. Further, Franklin was a much better write than this. A more authentic Franklin quote might read, “The first responsibility of every citizen is to question authority” and I suspect Ben would add “…every good citizen…”.
So, why start the sentence with “It”? Even if Franklin were to start a sentence with “it” he would use the more Colonial version such as these quotes, “Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” (BF, 1745) or “Tis a well spent penny that saves a groat.” (BF, 1749) There are many more authentic Franklin quotes which begin with “Tis” (short for “It is”, just to be clear).
Whoever perpetrated this particular hoax would have helped themselves by at least penning, “Tis the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority” to Franklin instead.
TheDCNF reached out to Booker’s office by phone and email. His communications director, Jeff Giertz, sent a sarcastic reply that did not meaningfully address why the senator or his staff would tweet and Facebook a false quote from a Founding Father to thousands and thousands of people: “As Ben Franklin may or may not have said, ‘to err is human; to forgive, divine.'”
When asked if that meant Giertz was fine with his senator tweeting and Facebooking inaccurate quotes to thousands of people, Giertz did not reply.
As of 4:00 p.m. EST, the tweet and Facebook post are both still live.
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