Matt Schlapp spread a dubious, unverified claim about threats made toward Trump supporters

Matt Schlapp in front of social media icons
Audrey Bowler / Media Matters

On Monday morning, American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp spread an unverified image claiming that supporters of President Donald Trump in Kansas City, Kansas, were receiving threatening flyers. The image has not been verified and Schlapp included no sources in his tweet, but the claim still spread widely, and what appears to be the same exact image has now been used to allege that similar incidents were happening across the country.

On October 19, Schlapp tweeted, “These fliers are being left in Kansas City neighborhoods. ... Please pray that America will reject this violence and hate.” Schlapp’s tweet also said that these flyers are being distributed “on top of our former KS National Committeeman getting run over on his yard due to his Trump sign” -- a claim which the local police have also debunked. Schlapp’s tweet received over 11,000 retweets and 14,000 likes. Several police departments near Kansas City said that the image was unverified and that no reports had been made about residents receiving such flyers.

Still, the image Schlapp shared spread across social media platforms and right-wing media. A local news outlet in New Hampshire reported that evening that police are investigating similar claims, which was seized on and amplified by outlets like Fox News and the Daily Wire. Various users in pro-Trump Facebook groups or pages and even a right-wing blog have claimed the notes were being spread in California, Missouri, Minnesota, Massachusetts. The claims also spread in private QAnon Facebook groups. Many posts used what appears to be the exact same image as Schlapp’s -- right down to the same distinctive tears in the paper.

Voter misinfo flier #1

On October 21, conservative personality James Woods tweeted an identical image to Schlapp’s, claiming that “this is being sent all over the country to American citizens who have dared put Trump campaign signs in their yards.” Woods' tweet has received over 30,000 retweets and over 43,000 likes so far.