Saturday, March 12, 2022

Snopes, PolitiFact and Zelensky's Duet

I'm kind of a stickler when it comes to sources and fact checking. Look back over the significant quantity of citations in the "Sources" sections of The Gazette columns reprinted in this blog (and sent with the column copy to The Gazette editors). You'll see what I mean -- though of course sources never appear in the newsprint or digitial paper editions of The Gazette.

March 11, I posted a video on Facebook that I've discovered misled me, and of course those who reacted (42), commented (17), or shared it (65) [as of 3:30 PM this March 12 afternoon]. (It is embedded at the bottom of this page.) [As of March 14, 2045: reactions (50), comments (29), shared (77), views (626).]

When sent to me it was represented to be Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife, Olena, playing and singing together "Endless Love." At that time there was nothing in Snopes (a fact finding Website of which more below) to indicate that was not the case. Subsequently, I came to discover that the artists were not them but rather, "The singer identified as Zelensky is actually lead vocalist Alejandro Manzano, and the woman identified as his wife is actually Connie Talbot."

Rather than take down the Facebook post I've decided to leave it up for the beautiful music it is and the joy it has brought to so many -- along with crediting the actual performers. Of course, if they should object to this posting of their performance, and let me know, I'll be happy to remove it. Under the circumstances, so long as the facts are clear, I cannot see that Zelensky, Zelenska, Manzano, and Talbot are being harmed in any way by its distribution.

But I view the events surrounding this post of sufficient significance to warrant more discussion than would easily fit in a Facebook "comment."

Are Volodymyr Zelensky and Olena Zelenska Professional Musicians?

The short answer is, "I don't know." The longer answer is that the video I put on Facebook appears to, but does not, answer that question.

To the best of my recollection I have never posted to Facebook anything described in ways I knew to be false. Nor did I do so on this occasion. But I feel I should explain some of the reasons why it happened.

(a) The video was sent to me by a friend whose material has never before been questionable. (b) It was creditable. That the extraordinary personality, Zelensky, who had a prior career as an entertainer, would also be a musician seemed totally plausable. (c) Though I was then unfamiliar with his wife's appearance, the man certainly looked like Zelensky to me. (d) I am on guard with allegations that appear designed to harm the reputation of another (often candidates for office). This clearly did not appear to be that -- quite the contrary. (e) At that time, fact-checking source Snopes had published nothing about it. (f) My heart was so heavy with sorrow and empathy for Ukrainians, along with dispair at our permitting the Russians' slaugher of these innocents, and overwhelming admiration for Zelensky's leadership, that I found the thought of he and his wife singing "Everlasting Love" (for each other and their country) so moving that I wanted to share it with other Americans who felt the same way. (g) Once told of the suggestions that the performers were not Zelensky and his wife those assertions needed to be verified. (We are all, in this age of "alternative facts," well aware that what turn out to be true facts are sometimes maligned as "false (or fake) facts.")

To compare the appearance of the two couples, here is a picture of Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska. See the video, at the bottom of this page, to compare them with the actual performers:

We all have a responsibility to check out the stories we pass on to others. A list of fact checking organizations and Web sites can be found here: Bill Adair, "Fake News & Misinformation: How to Spot and Verify," Poynter Institute and St. Louis Community College Libraries, June 16, 2021,

My go-to fact checking site has been Snopes (, of which the article just cited says, "Founded by David Mikkelson, a project begun in 1994 as an expression of his interest in researching urban legends that has since grown into the oldest and largest fact-checking site on the Internet, one widely regarded by journalists, folklorists, and laypersons alike as one of the world’s essential resources. Read about methodology and rating system at"

As it happened, Snopes had not, as of March 11, reported on this video. I have emailed them about it, and I'm sure they will soon post something. [March 14: Snopes' post can now be found here: ]

Another fact checker, that has already reported about the video, is PoltiFact (, about which the article, above, says: "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is run by editors and reporters from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida. PolitiFact staffers research statements and rate their accuracy on the Truth-O-Meter, from True to False. The most ridiculous falsehoods get the lowest rating, Pants on Fire").

PolitiFact has this to say about the video:

A video of a couple singing "Endless Love," a 1981 song by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross, is spreading online with a surprising description: that it shows Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky and his wife. ... But the people in this video aren’t Zelensky, who was an entertainer prior to entering politics, or his wife, Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine. The couple has captured international attention as they have stood defiant and vocal in their resistance to Russia....We searched online for "Endless Love duet covers" and found the video was posted on YouTube two weeks ago by Boyce Avenue, a band from Florida known for their cover songs.The singer identified as Zelensky is actually lead vocalist Alejandro Manzano, and the woman identified as his wife is actually Connie Talbot."

Ciara O'Rourke, "Video shows Volodymr Zelensky singing 'Endless Love' with his wife; No, this isn’t a video of Zelensky singing a Lionel Ritchie song," The Pointer Institute, PolitiFact, March 10, 2022,

Here, then, is the video:

Along with the text with which I introduced it on my Facebook page:
Here is the couple whose lives are most at risk, from a war they did not start, and in which we told Putin we don't want to become involved. Watch the 4-minute video and then tell me if your eyes are still dry and the price of gas is still your greatest concern.

And the text that accompanied the video that I received:
"A crooner before a comedian and commander-in-chief. During this tense and horrifying moments in Ukraine, aside from intense prayer to God, let us listen to Pres Volodymyr Zelensky and wife Olena Zelenska sing 'Endless Love' not only for each other but for their beloved country Ukraine."
# # #

No comments: