Did conservative political provocateur Dinesh D'Souza die at the age of 58? No, that's not true: D'Souza is alive, and an article suggesting otherwise is just the latest in a long line of celebrity death hoaxes to take the Internet by storm.
The claim most recently appeared in an article (archived here) published by environmentdepth.org on November 11, 2019, under the headline "Conservative Historian Dinesh D'Souza Dies at 58." It opened:
He was controversial. He was magical. He was a convict. His movies about imaginary history, fantastical tales of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rubbed the genetalia of conservative pundits and teabagging drool banks who watched him "own" liberals in youtube videos with his re-imagining of reality. Dinesh D'Souza, proof that wearing glasses does not necessarily make you smart, is gone to his reward today at the age of 58.
Users on social media saw this:
The article published on November 11 claimed that D'Souza had passed away. However, as recently as January 28, 2020, D'Souza appeared on Fox News Channel to talk about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
A disclaimer on the environmentdepth.org site said that "environmentdepth does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information."
The story of D'Souza's death is a hoax. Such death hoaxes are a popular form of "clickbait" online. According to an article in The Wrap:
In that race to be first on the page, sometimes the media accidentally speaks too soon in reporting the deaths of celebrities and public figures. And sometimes it's not an accident, in which the media or the public is often duped due to ill-advised jokes, conspiracies or hoaxes, many of which went viral until people put the rumors to rest.
The death hoax article was copied word-for-word from a site called Conservative Tears, which has a tagline touting its "death hoaxes for your thoughts and prayers."
The Conservative Tears site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites. Self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair runs those sites. The Maine resident works alongside a loose confederation of friends and allies. He has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages, so they carry prominent 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 that often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down, but new ones keep cropping up.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
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 journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes conservativetears.com as:
A hoax website that publishes false stories about celebrity deaths.
According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about conservativetears.com before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Actor Gary Sinise NOT Dead At 67
- Fake News: Sam Elliott, NOT Famous for Mocking Liberals, Is NOT Dead at 83
- Fake News: Steve Martin NOT Dead At 71 - NOT A Proud Conservative And NOT Friend Of The Trumps
- Christopher Blair Launches New Snopes & DeadState Parody Sites
- Fake News: Democrat Senator Stuart Boll Did NOT Switch Sides or Pledge To Vote With Trump