Several fake news websites have copied an article from satirical fake news site The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense which was titled: "Remember Ken Starr? His Plane Just Disappeared On His Way To DC To Tesitify". Various other sites have relabeled it as "BREAKING: Ken Starr's Plane Just Disappeared On His Way To DC To Testify Against Hillary", probably to fix the spelling error. The original article begins:
Ken Starr, the lead prosecutor who helped congress impeach Bill Clinton, was on his way to Washington DC this morning when his plane disappeared from radar. A plume of smoke in the area the plane was seen after the plane was spotted just outside of Wilkershire, Maryland.
The NTSB says the tower in Philadelphia lost contact with the plane about ten minutes before the explosion and that without a significant development, it appears all five people on board were killed.
The modified copy reads:
Early this morning, Ken Starr, the lead prosecutor who helped congress impeach Bill Clinton, was on his way to Washington DC when his plane disappeared from radar. The crash spot was just outside of Wilkershire, Maryland.
The NTSB says the control tower from the Philadelphia airport has lost full contact with the plane just two minutes before the crash explosion and that without a significant development, reports are saying that all five people on board were killed.
The orignal article is accompanied by an image purporting to be of the crash site:
In fact the image comes from the 2015 Shoreham airshow crash, nowhere near Wilkershire, Maryland. Some versions of the story use a different image showing an ambulance and a fire truck, this image is from a different crash in Warangatta, Australia in 2016.
The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense is a fake news website that carries following disclaimer on its about page:
DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don't necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.
The site also tends to include nonsensical phrases or insults hints in the list of "categories" under the article titles:
According to Buzzfeed the site was originally meant to troll conservatives with over the top satirical articles but now appears to be used as a 'source' by a large network of actual fake news sites (not related to the original creator) that all repost the same articles mentioning it as the source but not acknowlediging the satire disclaimer. This causes many people to believe the fake stories especially when they are being shared on social media where all context is removed and only the title, image and description remain. Sites in the network appear to include:
- American News
- Conservative Info corner
- Conservative Army
- Open Magazines
- True Trumpers
- Blue Vision News
- Conservative Flash News
- Red Country
So far no other factchecking websites or hoaxbusters like Snopes have debunked the story but we expect that to happen shortly.
It will be interesting to see which of the sites in the network go with the original title and which ones attempt to fix the headline. You can follow the progress of the original story via the Trendolizer graph at the end of this article. And you notice anyone spreading a version of the fake story around you can help by pointing them to this article here because nobody likes being duped by fake news sites set up by scammers to trick people into clicking on ads and popups.