In an October 19 post by editor Jim Hoft, The Gateway Pundit claimed that officials confirmed “the man arrested in connection to setting fires in California is a five time deported illegal alien.” The article also asserted that the alleged arsonist “was arrested several times but ICE was never notified because he was arrested in a sanctuary county.” From the Gateway Pundit piece (emphasis original):
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan confirmed on Thursday the man arrested in connection to setting fires in California is a five time deported illegal alien.
Jesus Fabian Gonzalez was arrested several times but ICE was never notified because he was arrested in a sanctuary county.
Most of the Gateway Pundit piece is made up of quotes from a Breitbart story, which alleged that “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan confirmed on Thursday that a man arrested in connection with setting a fire in Sonoma County Wine Country is an illegal alien from Mexico who has been twice returned to his ‘home country.’” The Breitbart story, however, has been debunked by local officials in North California.
Despite being debunked, this story has continued to spread on anonymous message boards and among far-right conspiracy theorists. Gateway Pundit’s latest brush with misinformation comes one day after a Periscope by the website’s White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, featured praise for Hitler, racial slurs, homophobic imagery, and a swastika flag.