Fact Check

Did the United States Treasury Announce Plans to Put Robert E. Lee on the New $20 Bill?

An article apparently intended as topical satire was mistaken for real news by some readers.

Published Sept. 7, 2017

 (Costin Constantinescu / Shutterstock.com)
Image courtesy of Costin Constantinescu / Shutterstock.com
In September 2017, the United States Treasury announced plans to produce a new $20 bill featuring the face of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

On 5 September 2017, Real News Right Now published a story appearing to report that the United States Treasury had announced plans to introduce a new $20 bill featuring Confederate general Robert E. Lee:

The new bill includes a portrait of the middle-aged Confederate general on its face while the reverse side features a scene depicting the Second Battle of Bull Run. “We are pleased to announce that the new twenty-dollar bill will make its debut on Monday, September 11th, in eleven states, including South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, and Texas,” Treasury spokesperson Keith Davis announced during a press conference Tuesday morning.

The article is entirely false and appears to be intended to be read as satire, appearing within the context of a national debate about the removal of Confederate memorials from public spaces across the United States. The "About" page further clarifies the site's intent:

R. Hobbus J.D. is an internationally acclaimed independent investigative journalist specializing in international politics, health, business, science, conflict resolution, history, geography, mathematics, social issues, feminism, space travel, civil rights, human rights, animal rights, fashion, film, astronomy, classic literature, religion, biology, paranormal activity, the occult, physics, psychology, and creative writing. He has appeared in countless publications including Time Magazine, Newsweek, Playboy, The Economist, The New York Times, Mad Magazine, Hustler, Guns & Ammo, People, Maxim Magazine, Highlights, The 9/11 Commission Report, The New Yorker, Bon Appetite, Rolling Stone, Car & Driver, Soldier of Fortune, Elle, Nintendo Power, National Geographic, and many more. He has received numerous awards for his work including the prestigious Stephen Glass Distinction in Journalistic Integrity (2011), The Oscar Mayer Award for Journalistic Excellence (2003), three Nobel Peace Prize nominations, one Pulitzer in Investigative Reporting (1998), and two Pulitzer Prizes in Commentary (1996, 2008). He resides comfortably in his modest home overlooking the coast of Nantucket surrounded by his wife and twelve cats.

(Stephen Glass was a New Republic staff writer who was catapulted to notoriety when it became apparent in the 1990s that he had, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, "perpetrated what may be the most spectacular, sustained campaign of fabrication known to American journalism". There is no journalism award in his name.)

On 11 and 12 August 2017, a white supremacist protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia erupted into violence, culminating in the murder by car of counterprotester Heather Heyer and intensifying public debate over Confederate symbols. In this context, announcing that a new $20 bill would feature the face of Lee would be extremely provocative and significantly escalate tensions, especially since (as the article mentions) former President Obama announced the black abolitionist activist Harriet Tubman as the new face of the $20 bill before he left office.

This article, like everything published by Real News Right Now, is a fabrication.


Appelbaum, Binyamin.  "Mnuchin Doesn't Endorse Placing Harriet Tubman on the New $20 Bill."   New York Times.  31 August 2017.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.