“Idaho Mother Sentenced To Prison After Multiple Citations For Breastfeeding In Public” screams a headline from the Seattle Tribune. Outrageous, right? Well, not exactly.
The woman, 32-year-old Heather Watson, allegedly faces seven years in prison and must register as a sex offender after repeatedly breastfeeding her 6-month-old daughter in public. Watson is said to be from the town of Wiser in Baker County, Idaho. Except neither of those places exist, nor does Heather Watson.
Dig far enough into the Seattle Tribune’s website and you might find this disclaimer dubbing it a “news and entertainment satire web publication.” But the breastfeeding story, posted last September, is still widely passed off as fact on Facebook, prompting Politifact to dedicate a post Monday to debunking it. According to Politico, an image used in the Seattle Tribune story was taken from Flickr and edited to look like a television newscast. What the Tribune claims is Watson’s mugshot is actually an Arizona woman arrested last year for failure to appear in court.
The post urges anyone who disagrees with Baker County’s sole judge, Jude Walter Chapman, to call the county’s justice department at a number that actually rings the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas church known for its hate speech and picketing events.
The fake story even includes a Facebook post from the supposed Idahoan, expressing her outrage at “the barbaric, stone-age laws we have in Idaho.” True, Idaho is the only state that lacks a law to specfically defend mothers who breastfeed in public. It’s likely those who run the Tribune sought to capitalize off of anger over that Idaho loophole.
Seattle Tribune has targeted Idaho before, again borrowing from Oregon to create a fictional location that blends both states. That story, published last December, claims residents of West Bend, Idaho, had halved the town’s crime rate in 2016.
Another Tribune story from last July hooked into the Pokemon Go craze, claiming that a schizophrenic Idaho Falls teen set fire to an LDS church in an attempt to “scare out” rare Pokemon. The basis for that story may have been one that took place just two days earlier in Kuna, when two teenagers playing the smartphone virtual reality game witnessed an alleged arson at an LDS building.