In early February 2023, a TikTok video went viral with the caption, "Which one is it? NBA or NFL?" In the video, Mark Bailey, then the president and now the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, reads off a list of various crimes and accusations and asks listeners if they believe he's talking about the NBA or the NFL. In the end, he reveals that the list purportedly applies to "the 435 members of the United States Congress," a reference to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The video quickly racked up millions of views and was then shared to Reddit's r/Conservative subreddit, Twitter, and YouTube. It may have originally been recorded in 2009, but that information was unclear.
The clip also appeared as an article on the conservative news website NotTheBee.com with the headline, "The answer to this question may shock you." The article featured a tweet with the embedded video showing the caption, "WATCH THE ENDING. Does the NFL or NBA have the most criminals? Are you surprised?"
In the viral video, Bailey appeared to be recounting a story he had heard from his son or read online. We transcribed the clip below:
And he said, "Dad, guess which is it? Is it NBA or NFL?"
36 have been accused of spousal abuse.
Seven have been arrested for fraud.
19 have been accused of writing bad checks.
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least two businesses.
Three have done time for assault.
71, I repeat, 71, cannot get a credit card due to their bad credit.
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.
Eight have been arrested for shoplifting.
21 currently are defendants in lawsuits.
And 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year.
How many of you think NBA? How many of you think NFL?
Well, the answer is neither.
It's the 435 members of the United States Congress.
The list read off by Bailey in the video is the kind of story that usually elicits a long line of "So true!" responses on Facebook, even though it's anything but true.
As we noted in our rating above, the claim that this list is an accurate roster of crimes, arrests, and criminal accusations levied against members of Congress is false. In fact, readers might be surprised to learn that we first debunked this same list (in written form) more than two decades before it appeared on TikTok.
In 2000, our reporting found that the list had been published on CapitolHillBlue.com in 1999. It contained no sources, citations, or evidence of any kind to support the data. The article was later removed from that website on an unknown date.
At the time, we also noted that variants of the same list had also circulated with a final reveal that attributed the crimes not to members of Congress, but Canadian Parliament members, British Parliament members, government bodies from other countries, and even the NBA and NFL.
On March 25, 2005, CapitolHillBlue.com published a retraction for its 1999 publication of the list. In the brief story, the website blamed an intern for the mistakes that had been made.