Did AOC say "We pay soldiers way too much" during a Congress session? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to fool Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators (or a liberal from Maine) via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.
The story originated from an article published by Taters Gonna Tate on July 16, 2019 titled "Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much'" (archived here) which opened:
The Cucaracha of Congress, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is fairly well-known for spouting out little "ideas" that most people would figure out were, well, dumb. This time, it seems the Baby Boss has been perusing the proposed budget sheet for the upcoming months, and had her little mind blown by what she saw, leading her to proclaim in an open session of Congress that : "Wow! We pay soldiers WAY too much!"
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much'
Another day, another stupid.
The story was published under the category "AOC is crazy! Simple satire for simple people" and the phrases "we pay soldiers too much" or "we pay soldiers way too much" do not occur in the Congressional Record.
The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
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.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
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.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
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 tatersgonnatate.com as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about tatersgonnatate.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Trump Administration Did NOT Start Deportation Proceedings Against AOC and Omar
- Fake News: David Hogg, Protest Group NOT Blocking Washington Parade
- Fake News: President Trump Did NOT Say "I Will Pay For July 4 Parade Out Of My Own Pocket"
- Fake News: NO New Dem Bill To Limit Firearm Ownership to One Per Household
- Fake News: Panel of 16 Judges Did NOT Agree Barr Has Enough to Indict Clinton and Obama