Did freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggest the Earth may be flat? No, that's not true: The New York representative did not make such a statement. It is a claim from an article published by a well-known satirical site that trolls conservatives. These stories are often copied by other websites that republish them without any satire labeling, presenting them as real news.
The claim originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by BustaTroll.com on January 16, 2020, under the title "AOC Suggests the Earth May Be Flat". It opened:
While talking to supporters outside Madam's Organ, the bar she used to work at, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemed to suggest the earth my not be round. "I mean, I haven't personally seen it from space, so who am I to say it's round? I think we should gather more evidence before jumping to conclusions. We should start a mission to space to see for ourselves."
This is what social media users saw:
The outspoken Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, is a favorite target of conservatives - and a popular character among satirical websites like BustaTroll.com.
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 rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry 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 that 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 bustatroll.org 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 bustatroll.org before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Kaepernick Did NOT Lobby To Remove National Anthem From Football
- Fake News: Clarence Thomas Did NOT Say SCOTUS Is Ready To 'Crush The Coup Against President Trump'
- Fake News: Barr Did NOT File Charges, Did NOT Indict Obama
- Fake News: Trump Did NOT File Abuse Of Power Charges Against Nancy Pelosi And Chuck Schumer
- Fake News: Pelosi Does NOT Want To Empty Social Security To Pay The National Debt