Did the Obama family fly to a private island to escape the coronavirus pandemic. No, that's not true: This is work of fiction published by a well-known satire network. If you see it without the satire labeling, then it was stolen by a publisher and republished. There is no truth to the claim that former President Barack Obama has fled the United States for a private island.
The claim originated in an article published by ObamaWatcher.com on March 19, 2020 titled "Obama Family Flown to Private 'Safe Island'" (archived here) which opened:
Reach into your pocket or purse, and pull put the wallet you carry when you go patriotically shopping at your nearest American small business or gun store. Is there thirty billion dollars in there? No? Then your last name isn't "Obama", and you don't own your own private "safe island" where you and your family and friends can wait out any crisis that the unwashed masses have to suffer through.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Obama Family Flown to Private 'Safe Island'
Must be nice to just bury your heads in the sand- literally.
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 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 that 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 journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes obamawatcher.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 obamawatcher.com before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Michelle Did NOT Slam Melania: Did NOT Say, "She's A Terrible Role Model For America's Women"
- Fake News: Michelle Obama Is NOT The New Face of Versace Cosmetics
- Fake News: Obama Did NOT Call UN Security Meeting With Or Without US Officials
- Fake News: Obama Did NOT Respond To Report: 'Barr Is Trump's Lap Dog. He Lies For Him'
- Fake News: Campus Young Republican Club Did NOT Topple Obama Statue