Fact Check: Mitt Romney Did NOT Endorse Joe Biden

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Mitt Romney Did NOT Endorse Joe Biden Fiction

Did Mitt Romney endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to mislead Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made-up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators or a liberal from Maine via the ad revenue generated with the content, which is probably not what they expected or wanted.

The claim originated as an article published by DailyWorldUpdate.us on April 20, 2020, titled "Romney Endorses Joe Biden" (archived here). It opened:

After his unsuccessful run for President against Barack Obama, Mitt Romney hasn't exactly acted like the Republican's Republican. He's voted against several pieces of GOP legislation while representing the state of Utah in the Senate, and he was the only voice of the conservative right to correctly recommend that Donald Trump be charged and prosecuted for crimes during his historic impeachment trial. Now, however, his seemingly turncoat antics may have gone too far. Like someone giving Melania Trump an American Express Gold Card at the Bunny Ranch.

Just this morning, at the Brigham Young pagoda of Utah's Sandy Batt Fellowship Hall, the Informin' Mormon told a gathered press corps that he would be endorsing candidate Joe Biden for the 2020 Presidential election over incumbent and fellow Republican Donald Trump.

But the story was posted in a category named "Deep State fan Fiction for the Derp State," and there were several other hints and disclaimers on the page explaining the whole thing was fiction, such as the site header that read "Satire for Flat Earthers, Trumpsters and Y'all Qaeda."

There are no media reports about a Romney endorsement for Biden and Romney's own website also makes no mention of it.

Despite being totally made up, the fictional story racked up over 30,000 engagements on Facebook at the time of this writing, with many people angrily commenting on it -- all while seemingly being unaware that the story was not real.

DailyWorldUpdate.us 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):

About Satire
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":

sat·ire
ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
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 dailyworldupdate.us as:

A news site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news. The site is part of a network 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.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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