FACT CHECK: Did James Mattis Make This Statement About Idaho?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said there’s a backup American flag in case Idaho “disappears.”


Verdict: False

There is no record of Mattis making the comment. The statement appears to stem from a satire website.

Fact Check:

Mattis, who served as the Secretary of Defense under former President Donald Trump from January 2017 to December 2018, is known for his quotes, according to The Military Times. Now, some social media users have been sharing an alleged Mattis quote about how the U.S. has a backup flag just in case Idaho “disappears.”

“We have a backup design for a flag with only 49 stars just in case Idaho somehow disappears,” Mattis purportedly said. “That’s not to say that Idaho will disappear, but believe me, were it to happen, we’d be ready.”

There is, however, no record of Mattis ever saying such a thing. Check Your Fact searched the Department of Defense’s website and press releases, but found no instance of the quote attributed to Mattis in the Facebook post. Nor does the comment appear on the Department of Defense’s verified social media accounts. Mattis does not appear to have his own verified social media accounts where he could post the statement.

Had Mattis said the U.S. had a backup flag in case Idaho “disappears,” media outlets likely would have reported on it, yet an internet search turned up no such news reports(RELATED: Does This Image Show An Underwater American Flag At Pearl Harbor Being Replaced?)

The claim appears to stem from a March 2017 article published on ClickHole. ClickHole explicitly states it is a satire website, saying, “The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. ClickHole uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized.” Despite this, social media users have shared the quote without such a warning, seemingly believing it to be a genuine statement from Mattis.

This is not the first time social media users have shared a quote falsely attributed to Mattis. Recently, Check Your Fact debunked the false claim that Mattis said, “If you burn the American flag you’ll spend two years in the military.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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