Did Nancy Pelosi have the Health Department shut down the Trump Plaza hotel in Manhattan? 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. 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 Potatriots Unite on November 5, 2019 titled "Pelosi Has Health Department Close Trump Plaza Hotel" (archived here) which opened:
The scene at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Manhattan yesterday was one of panic, confusion, and outrage as fifty-two health department officials descended on the landmark, ushering all guests and employees out and declaring the entire structure closed for operation. When Plaza management asked to see warrants for the closure, inspectors produced eight - each one signed by a federal judge - and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The hotel was operating at near-full capacity, with an Arabian delegation in town who had purchased the entire third and fourth floors. Health inspector Jose Barron read a list of violations to journalists...
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Pelosi Has Health Department Close Trump Plaza Hotel
The scene at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Manhattan yesterday was one of panic, confusion, and outrage as fifty-two health department officials descended on the landmark, ushering all guests and employ...
The story was posted under following categories, indicating it was all a big joke: "Blatantly Obvious Irony and/or Sarcasm" and "Satire That Makes You Horny". In addition to that the page contained several other disclaimers and satire logos. And of course a Speaker of The House usually does not get involved in local health code violation cases.
The site that posted the story 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 potatriotsunite.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 potatriotsunite.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Pelosi Did NOT Divert $2.4 Billion From Social Security To Cover Impeachment Costs
- Fake News: Source Did NOT Say Epstein Implicated High-Powered Democrats In Suicide Note
- Fake News: Judge in Epstein Case NOT Found Dead of Apparent Suicide
- Fake News: Judge Did NOT Award Sasha and Malia Obama's Biological Father $14 Million
- Fake News: Ross Perot Did NOT Leave $100 Million to the Trump 2020 Campaign