Pentagon starting ‘Mythbusters’ page to debunk false rumors of martial law

Defense Department aims to stamp out false stories about military takeovers and other misinformation, Esper says

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, White House briefing
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks at daily White House coronavirus briefing, March 18
(Brendan Smialowski/Getty)
Last Updated:
March 24, 2020 - 7:50pm

The Pentagon will set up a “Mythbusters” web page to debunk false stories about military takeovers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

“There is no talk of martial law, no talk of quarantine” roles for the American military, Esper said; and yet, rumors to that nature are so persistent that the Pentagon plans to counter them aggressively.

Esper made his remarks Tuesday afternoon during a live streamed “virtual town hall” meeting for service members, their families, and civilian workers and contractors. Esper was joined on the panel by U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and by Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez.

“There are multiple sources of disinformation” about how the Pentagon will act during the pandemic, Esper said. The most prevalent rumors are that the military will take over the country during martial law, and that soldiers will enforce a mandatory quarantine. Both scenarios are false, the defense chief said.

The web-based “Mythbusters” page will go online as early as Wednesday, Esper said. Web designers hope to include a portal for viewers to submit rumors and ask that they be verified or debunked.

In the meantime, Milley advised, service members who want accurate information should turn to their own commanders.

“We need to listen closely and rely on the chain of command,” Milley said.