Were two witnesses against former Vice President Joe Biden found dead in the River Ukraine? No, that's not true: the article comes from a conservative satire website, Biden is not under investigation or criminal indictment, and there is no "River Ukraine."
The claim originated from an article published by Taters Gonna Tate on December 16, 2019, titled "Two Star Witnesses Against Biden Found Floating In River Ukraine" (archived here), which opened:
No matter how much the Democrats deny it, it's clear that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, were involved in a quid pro quo corruption scheme involving themselves, the White House, the Ukrainian government, and several Ukrainian energy companies that resulted in a sweet aid deal to Ukraine and a fabulous, do-nothing job for Hunter.
Rudy Giuliani recently travelled across the Atlantic to investigate the corruption in cooperation with the Uke City Police Force and he had reported back about some success. Details are sketchy but what came through clearly was that Giuliani had discovered two witnesses to the illicit deal - and they were both willing to testify. They were said to be the final pieces in the case that would put the Bidens away.
But that has now changed. Late last night, Ukrainian authorities discovered two half-eaten bodies in the piranha infested waters of the River Ukraine. Today they had been positively identified through dental records as Wladimir Klitschko and Joseph Conrad - Giuliani's two star witnesses - and were officially ruled dead by suicide.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Two Star Witnesses Against Biden Found Floating In River Ukraine
No matter how much the Democrats deny it, it's clear that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, were involved in a quid pro quo corruption scheme involving themselves, the White House, the Ukrainian...
It is true that President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani recently traveled to Ukraine to investigate alleged corruption by the former vice president and his son. But there is no criminal trial or indictment against Biden in which witnesses would be called, in either Ukraine or the United States. In fact, several of the details in the story are completely invented: the Uke City Police Force does not exist, there are no piranhas in rivers outside of South America and there is no River Ukraine. Additionally, the two men alleged to have been found dead in the river, named as Wladimir Klitschko and Joseph Conrad, are the same names as a famous Ukrainian boxer and the famed author of "Heart of Darkness."
The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run by self-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 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: Ilhan Omar Did NOT Say "After We Win, Deportations Of Trump Supporters Begins"
- Fake News: California Legislature Does NOT Remove Christmas From All State Calendars And Events
- Fake News: First Round of Democrat Indictments From Barr Investigation NOT Coming Tomorrow