Did Nancy Pelosi say "Americans are the stupidest people on Earth" while caught on a hot mic? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to manipulate 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 BustaTroll.org on October 21, 2019 titled "Caught On Hot Mic, Pelosi Says 'Americans Are The Stupidest People On Earth'" (archived here) which opened:
Nancy Pelosi was caught while speaking to an aide in what she thought was a private conversation at a fundraiser last night in Illinois. But what she didn't realize after she had left the stage was that the microphone clipped to her jacket was still on, making everything she said audible to the shocked and outraged audience.....and what she said revealed what kind of person she really is.
Pelosi had just delivered a rousing speech, promising the moon to potential donors and voters. Among her promises : full employment, peace on earth, free electricity supply to citizens, and a tax reduction down to 2%. These are all ridiculous proposals, of course. None of this is within the power of any one politician, much less simply a member of the House, but that didn't stop her from guaranteeing they would be become reality with her reelection. And the democrat audience ate it up,
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Nancy Pelosi was caught while speaking to an aide in what she thought was a private conversation at a fundraiser last night in Illinois. But what she didn't realize after she had left the sta...
The story was posted in two categories named "Pelosi Satire with Chile Sauce and Liquid Cheese" and "Satire and/or Conservative Fan Fiction" and the site contained several satire logos and disclaimers.
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:
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 bustatroll.org 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 bustatroll.org before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Pope Francis Did NOT Say God Will Abandon America If Trump Is Re-elected
- Fake News: It's NOT Official, Michelle Obama NOT Running For President
- Fake News: Trump Does NOT Want To Make Mocking Jesus Christ A Hate Crime
- Fake News: Kamala Harris Did NOT Say "Our Police Are All Criminal Animals; They Are A Cancer"
- Fake News: Ilhan Omar Did NOT Walk Out Of 9/11 Memorial Service