CLAIM: Videos show proof that actor Tom Hanks and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot support the “New World Order,” a conspiracy theory built on the idea that the world’s most wealthy and powerful are plotting to overthrow democracy and install a single, global authoritarian government.
THE FACTS: The videos are being misrepresented. The YouTube clip featuring Hanks was taken from a five-minute video of him addressing the class of 2020 at Wright State University. Social media users claim Hanks — who called the graduates “chosen ones" — was congratulating members of the New World Order for a successful coup because of the pandemic. A review of the video shows Hanks simply told students they would enter a post-college world that will look very different after coronavirus has spread throughout the globe. “You chosen ones are going to form the new structures and to find the new realities and make the new world, the world after all that we have been through and after your time here in the final years, the final weeks at Wright State,” Hanks told the graduates. Hanks’ video message was played during a virtual ceremony on May 2 for graduates of the college’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures.
The video featuring Lightfoot was edited to take her words out of context. She was not planning a global coup, she was talking about ending a long-standing and unusual custom in Chicago called “aldermanic prerogative,” which gave aldermen absolute power on zoning and development decisions in their home wards. The video with Lightfoot's comments was taken during an April 2019 interview with the Chicago Tribune, days after she won her mayoral bid with a historic campaign that vowed reforms that would root out corruption in the city. During the interview, Lightfoot said she would put a stop to aldermanic prerogative, practice some have criticized as unchecked power that was easy for aldermen to abuse. To help get rid of the practice, Lightfoot says she plans to sign an executive order that says the city will no longer honor the practice. She tells the Tribune that after that order is signed, she will then hire new officials across key departments in the city, like zoning and housing, who are on board with abolishing the custom. “You pick the people to run those agencies and the deputies that are pledging allegiance to the new world order and good governance,” Lightfoot said. Social media users are sharing an edited, one-minute video clip of that comment to suggest she is talking about trying to overthrow the government with a new world order. Other social media posts share a screenshot of her quote to make the misleading claim. In May 2019, after she was inaugurated, Lightfoot signed an executive order limiting aldermanic prerogative.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.