Conspiracy Theorists Hijack Country Singer's Virus Death

Widow of Joe Diffie slams 'false and hurtful' claims on how her husband died
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 24, 2020 7:41 AM CDT
Widow of Singer Felled by Virus Slams Conspiracy Theories
This Aug. 22, 2018, file photo shows Joe Diffie at the ACM Honors in Nashville, Tenn.   (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP, File)

Conspiracy theorists are twisting facts online about country singer Joe Diffie's death from COVID-19 complications in an effort to promote their claims that health officials are exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Diffie, who topped the charts in the 1990s with honky-tonk singles including "Home" and "Pickup Man," died in Nashville, Tenn., on March 29 after he tested positive for the virus, per the AP. He was 61. In the days following his death, Facebook and Twitter users posing as internet sleuths falsely claimed media reports hid that he had lung cancer. He didn't. The untrue claims appear to have stemmed from an obituary posted online for Diffie's father, Joe Diffie Sr., who passed away in November 2018 from cancer. The inaccurate claim about Diffie is one of many from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube users seeking to sow doubt about the impact of the virus.

Many of them claim that health officials, government leaders, and media outlets have overblown the danger of the virus, despite millions being infected with it worldwide. Diffie's widow, Tara Terpening Diffie, pleaded on Instagram for people to stop sharing the misinformation about her spouse. "There have been some untrue statements about my late husband that are false and hurtful," Tara Terpening Diffie said. "Joe did not have lung cancer and was a healthy, loving father, husband, and friend. He also kept a very busy touring schedule and loved his fans who've supported him all these years." Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Okla., died just days after announcing he'd contracted the coronavirus. He's survived by his wife and seven children from four marriages.

(Read more conspiracy theories stories.)

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