The lawsuit is a hoax—but everybody fell for it.
The rally might have annoyed Secretary of State John Kerry, but it infuriated R.E.M., and for good reason—it made unlicensed use of the band’s music for a cause that it strongly opposed.
In the video below, you can clearly hear the crowd getting pumped up to the permission-free tune of R.E.M.’s tune “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
It’s unclear as to why any campaign would want to associate itself with the lyrics of that song, but nonetheless, the rally used it.
The song has become a sort of theme song for Trump, but the rally seemed to be the last straw for R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who offered these words through the Twitter account of R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills:
The band also released an official statement on its Facebook page:
Nearly every news outlet in the country has reported that the band has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Trump for the unlicensed use of its music. But this is false. The news originated on NBC.com.co, a fake NBC site, which sort of explains where the misunderstanding came from.
Nonetheless, the unverified spread of the news is still a sad commentary on twenty-first century fact-checking.
Screengrab via The New York Times/YouTube