Fake News: Socialist California Does NOT Refuse To Fly US Flag 'Until Trump Is Gone'

Fact Check

  • by: Molly Weisner
Fake News: Socialist California Does NOT Refuse To Fly US Flag 'Until Trump Is Gone'

Did California refuse to fly the U.S. flag 'until Trump is gone?' No, that's not true: there is no evidence that Californians won't fly the American flag for the remainder of Trump's presidency, regardless of the outcome of the impeachment proceedings. This claim originated as a work of satire but was stolen by other websites without the satire labeling.

The claim originated from an article (archived here) where it was published earlier this year by BeBest.website under the title "Socialist California Refuses to Fly US Flag 'Until Trump is Gone'". It opened:

In a movement spearheaded by Governor Gavin Newsom, Californians are vowing to take down their Stars and Stripes and never fly them again for as long as President Trump remains in the White House, angering the President and millions of patriotic American citizens across the country.

Last month, the flags in front of the Governor's Mansion and the State Senate were lowered and cast aside like trash. Governor Newsom made this pledge to mark the occasion:

'Donald Trump - I refuse to call him 'President' - is not a representative of this great nation. He is a traitor, beholden not to the people of America, but to the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

His sole purpose in running for POTUS was to undermine our own republic and to strengthen those despotic regimes.

And so we will not honor the nation that elected him, nor will we honor its flag. Until such time as he is removed, either by election loss or the more just imprisonment, the State of California will symbolically reject his presidency by trashing the US flag.'

Users on social media only saw this thumbnail and text:

None of the articles' quotes can be traced back to the speakers. There is also no recent evidence to show that Californians trashed American flags as widespread protest, or that American flags at the governor's mansion and senate building were taken down.

The article also claims that President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to California because of the flag protests. Trump did say he would end funding to the state, though not because of any flag desecration. Rather, it was in response to Newsom's handling of forestry and water management, which Trump ridiculed and blamed for the ravages of wildfires. When Newsom requested federal funds to help with California's wildfires, Trump barked back on social media, telling the governor to get his "act together" and stop consulting environmentalists.

The site comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
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:

  Molly Weisner

Molly is a staff writer and fact-checker at Lead Stories based in North Carolina. She is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying media and journalism, with a specific interest in investigative reporting. Molly is also a reporter on several projects based out of UNC's journalism school, including another fact-checking initiative and an online weekly for a former news desert in Chatham County, North Carolina. Molly has also pursued freelance reporting in tracking the juvenile justice system in North Carolina.

Read more about or contact Molly Weisner

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