Were federal warrants issued for Kathy Griffin, Robert DeNiro and Barbara Streisand? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to mislead 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 (which happened with this story 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 published by Taters Gonna Tate on October 24, 2019 titled "Federal Warrants Issued For Kathy Griffin, DeNiro, & Streisand For Threats On President" (archived here) which opened:
Hollywood celebrities think they can break the law with impunity. They have used their positions for decades to openly commit crimes, knowing that the law would never pursue them.
AG Barr has ordered the issue of federal warrants for Kathy Griffen, Tom Arnold, Robert DeNiro, and Barbara Streisand for 'Threats against the President'. The order was made after several highly publicized releases from the stars over the past couple of years. Griffin, of course, photographed herself with trump's severed head. Arnold tweeted ahead of the recent Dallas rally that Trump should "remember what happened to JFK in Dallas". Streisand just put out a video depicting Nancy Pelosi killing President Trump. And DeNiro has simply openly begged for assassination on several occasions. These are all illegal hate speech that seemed to be going unpunished but Trump's America is a new America and lawbreakers are punished in this new realm.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Hollywood celebrities think they can break the law with impunity. They have used their positions for decades to openly commit crimes, knowing that the law would never pursue them. But the times the...
The story was posted in two categories that clearly indicated the story was fictional, namely "Dream Come True For You Fan Fiction" and "Satire and/or Conservative Fan Fiction". In addition to that there were several satire disclaimers and logos plastered all over the site.
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 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: Ilhan Omar Did NOT Spit On The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- Fake News: Al Gore Did NOT Say Hurricane is Result Of Trump's Climate Change Denial
- Fake News: Malcolm X's Daughter Did NOT Say "My Dad Would Be Ashamed Obama Was Our President"
- Fake News: Rashida Tlaib NOT Overheard Saying "We Will Bring Jihhaad to America"
- Fake News: Muslamian Council Named ICE Did NOT Say 'If Pork Isn't Banned, We'll Have To Leave America'