Fake News: Crazed Liberal Burning Trump Signs Did NOT Cause Massachusetts Explosions

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Crazed Liberal Burning Trump Signs Did NOT Cause Massachusetts Explosions

Was liberal activist Fiona Dourif arrested after causing a series of explosions in Massachusetts yesterday by burning stolen Trump campaign signs? No, that's not true: a liberal satire website is once again using the name of a popular actress in a fake story designed to get conservatives and Trump supporters angry enough so they share it without checking (or even reading the full article). The explosions did happen but the whole story about the liberal activist is completely made up.

The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on September 14, 2018 titled "BREAKING: Crazed Liberal Burning Trump Signs Caused Massachusetts Explosions" (archived here) which opened:

Police have identified the cause of the massive explosions that rocked Massachusetts on Thursday night. Firefighters bravely fought fires at 40 homes and businesses as a result of a gas explosion. But the massive explosions weren't an accident. They were caused by the gross criminal negligence of an anti-Trump liberal.

Fiona Dourif, 22, was arrested Thursday night after police discovered the source of the explosions: a pile of burned Trump signs the well-known liberal activist and former Clinton campaign volunteer had collected and lit ablaze.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so they may have confused it for real news:

BREAKING: Crazed Liberal Burning Trump Signs Caused Massachusetts Explosions

Police have identified the cause of the massive explosions that rocked Massachusetts on Thursday night. Firefighters bravely fought fires at 40 homes and businesses as a result of a gas explosion. But the massive explosions

However the woman in the mugshot is not actress Fiona Dourif:

Michelle Watson -- Mugshot Celebrity; Photo of Smiling Suspect in DUI and Cop Assault Goes Viral

Michelle Watson's mug shot went viral after the Smoking Gun posted details of her recent arrest. Cops witnessed Watson driving recklessly near Prescott College on Grove Avenue before pulling her over, says the report. Once out of the vehicle, she began dropping f-bombs and screaming at the officers, then resisted their efforst to cuff her, kneeing one officer in the groin as he grabbed her purse.

You can read more about Dourif here:

Fiona Dourif

Fiona Dourif, Actress: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Fiona Dourif is an American actress and producer. She began her career in 2004 working for Kaos productions, producing documentaries for The History Channel and TLC.

The website that pushed the hoax used Dourif's name as a character in other hoax stories before. This is the third story featuring her that we've debunked so far.

The hoax story also provided incorrect numbers on the number of dead and injured, but it did link to this (real) CNN report about the explosion:

1 killed and several injured after suspected gas explosions in Massachusetts

Explosions and fires that rocked nearly 40 homes and businesses in three Massachusetts towns on Thursday may have resulted from an issue with gas service, officials said.

The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes trumpbetrayed.us as:

A website claiming to be satirical that publishes fabricated stories, run by Christopher Blair, a known purveyor of disinformation, that published fake stories about Senator John McCain after he passed away.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about trumpbetrayed.us before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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