Did the California legislature remove Christmas from all state calendars and events? No, that's not true: The claim started as a satirical story published on a website that features fake reports designed to lure conservatives into sharing. Lead Stories does not flag satire as "fake news," although copycat sites that steal the original without proper labeling are rated false.
The story originated from an article published by TatersGonnaTate.com on November 25, 2019 titled "California Legislature Removes Christmas From All State Calendars and Events" (archived here) which opened:
Christmas is officially dead in the state of communist California. The state legislature has deemed that any reference to Christmas on any state calendar is "unconstitutional."
What exactly does that mean? Here is a list of things that will be affected by this new War on Christmas:
State calendars will no longer show Christmas as a holiday.
Children will no longer be able to say Merry Christmas in the classroom or draw anything related to Jesus.
Teachers who mention Christmas will be arrested, fined, and possibly imprisoned for "indoctrinating" children.
Stores that sell Christmas-related goods will no longer be considered for state contracts.
State workers can take Christmas Day off but they won't be paid.
Hospitals, bars, and nightclubs are required to stay open on December 25th.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
The truth is right there in front of you.
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:
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- Fake News: Federal Warrants NOT Issued For Kathy Griffin, DeNiro, & Streisand
- 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"