CNN aired the tragic story of a single mother facing eviction who had pawned all she owned to feed her three daughters. However, after raising a whopping $230,000, the news outlet was forced to issue an embarrassing major correction.
When CNN broke the story of a Las Vegas mother with her three little girls at the mercy of an evil landlord, the news outlet expected her testimony to tug at the heartstrings as well as the wallets of their compassionate audience. Unfortunately, the station had failed to vet 32-year-old Dasha Kelly before misleading their viewers, sparking a flood of ill-gotten donations.
In a heartbreaking interview, CNN featured Kelly, a woman who was thousands of dollars behind in rent and fearful that she and Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, would be evicted in a matter of days. The camera crew captured the tearful single mom’s empty apartment, which contained little more than a mattress on the floor and a worn couch for the family of four.
Kelly sobbed to the reporter and said she had to pawn almost all of her possessions after she lost her job, showing the camera a mattress lying on her bedroom floor and the children’s room, which contained no bed. She explained that she goes without food so that her girls can have enough to eat.
“Well, they’re eating okay. Let’s put it that way. There’s days I don’t want to roll out the bed, roll out the floor. You get what I mean,” she said. When asked if the girls know that they’re facing eviction, she replied, “That’s something I’m afraid of telling them. How do you explain that to your kids?”
A day after the interview, Kelly was told that compassionate strangers had raised more than $170,000 for her and that the GoFundMe donations were steadily rolling in, eventually garnering over $230,000. Through tears, she thanked her donors, expressing her “denial” over their immense kindness. However, everything wasn’t as it seemed.
After the story went viral, Shadia Hilo contacted CNN with birth certificates to prove that the three little girls were her children and that Kelly had used them to garner sympathy and raise money for herself. The upset mother explained that Kelly only watches the children sometimes because she is dating their biological father, who is Hilo’s ex. Confronted with the information, CNN was forced to issue a major correction.
After CNN originally aired her story, Dasha Kelly clarified to CNN that she is not the mother of the three children featured in the story. CNN has verified she takes care of the children in her home for periods of time. She says she originally described herself to CNN as a mother because she considers herself to be like one to them. CNN has learned the children are also cared for by their mother, Shadia Hilo, and their father, David Allison, who is Kelly’s boyfriend.
Of course, thanks to CNN’s failure to do due diligence, the damage was already done. Thousands of people had donated to Kelly’s fraudulent cause. As such, GoFundMe stopped the fundraiser and put the money on hold. The organization will notify donors that they may receive a refund. Any money left over will partially go to Kelly and partially to the children, The Blaze reports.
Dasha Kelly tried to clear up any confusion by claiming that she only referred to the children as her own because she feels like a mother to them. However, the description on her GoFundMe page was clearly misleading.
“My name is Kelly and I have 3 daughters living in Nevada,” Kelly wrote in the description of the GoFundMe. “We owe $1,900 for rent alone not including utilities. I will figure out utilities by pawning a few things. As you all know it is entirely still to hot to be homeless. My daughter’s [sic] are aged 5, 6, and 8. Please help with anything you can.”
CNN directly promoted the GoFundMe account without vetting the information. Unfortunately, not everyone who donated will have heard about this fraud, leaving some unknowing donors contributing to a cause they probably wouldn’t have funded.
CNN had attempted to make Kelly the poster child for pushing legislation that prevents homeowners from evicting tenants who fail to pay rent. Unfortunately, they unintentionally proved that not everyone is a victim of a corrupt system but of their own bad choices.
The media are an extremely powerful entity that preys upon viewers’ emotions to sell a product no one needs. The most disturbing part is that these outlets are too lazy or biased to bring their audience the truth. Kelly’s story is a perfect example of this.