Fact Check: House Democrats Did NOT Move to Remove National Anthem from Sporting Events

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: House Democrats Did NOT Move to Remove National Anthem from Sporting Events Trolling

Did House Democrats move to remove the National Anthem from sporting events? No, that's not true. The story about the removal of the Star Spangled Banner 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 story orignated from an article (archived here) where it was published by BustaTroll.org on March 13, 2020 under the title "House Democrats Move to Remove National Anthem from Sporting Events". It opened:

The Star-Spangled Banner is America's song. It represents us all, regardless of our skin color, beliefs, or political leanings. This is why it is shocking to hear that House Democrats moved to hold a vote on removing the national anthem before sporting events, citing its offensiveness to people from other countries.

The bill is expected to easily pass as all professional sports events have been suspended indefinitely.

Ilhan Omar says the move was inspired by professional kneeler Colin Kaepernick. She says he spoke to her recently and inspired her to act.

However the story was published in a category named "AOC + Ilhan Omar is Too Much Satire for the Average Tater" on a page with several satire disclaimers and logos. That did not stop the story from being copied by a foreign-run fake news site that used the a URL on blogging website Tumblr.com to redirect visitors to "https://biznews.me/house-democrats-move-to-remove-national-anthem-from-sporting-events/" (in order to evade blocking). The copy of the story got over 440K engagements on Facebook according to tracking platform CrowdTangle.

The site that originally published the story is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-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):

About Satire
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.

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:

One in a network of sites that publish false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, 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.

  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an 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.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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