Was the house of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raided by ICE and did they find 96 illegal immigrants hiding there? 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 (it happened with this one, too). 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 (archived here) where it was published by Be Best Website on July 15, 2019 under the title "AOC's Home Raided By ICE; Caught Hiding Illegals". It opened:
ICE began its immigration raids today, foooding into homes and businesses across the country and arresting and detaining thousands of illegal aliens who are here, without permission, illegally.
One home that was subject to raid was a surprise to many onlookers and reporters - that of Democratic House Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And the reason why is shocking but hardly surprising to those on the conservative side of America.
Ocasio-Cortez was harboring fugitives of the not-legal immigrant variety so that they could avoid the announced raids. Ninety-six adults and children were found in her tiny home and led out in chains.
The article was posted in these categories "Conservative Fan Fiction" and "Satire To Raise Money For Snopes".
The image used with the story came from a 2008 ICE news release (during the George W. Bush administration):
More than 900 arrested in ICE operation targeting criminal aliens and illegal alien fugitives in California
Among those arrested by the Fugitive Operations Teams locally was a previously deported Mexican national who was convicted in the mid-1990s of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. Mariano Ceja-Ochoa, 31, was taken into custody by ICE officers May 9 in Dana Point, Calif.
The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:
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 wearethellod.com, bustatroll.org or bebest.website. 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.
Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:
'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America
November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.
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 bebest.website 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 bebest.website before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Michelle Obama Did NOT Hire All-Star Team to Run Her 2020 Campaign
- Fake News: Judge in Epstein Case NOT Found Dead of Apparent Suicide
- Fake News: Pelosi Did NOT Issue Order to Place Barr Under 'Congressional Detention'
- Fake News: NBC Did NOT Finally Pull The Plug - Saturday Night Live NOT Canceled
- Fake News: Supreme Court Did NOT Rule National Emergency Order 'Within the Powers of the POTUS'