Did U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar say she wants Americans to wear traditional Muslim coverings to avoid spreading the coronavirus? 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 first appeared as a satircal article published by BustaTroll.org on April 5, 2020, titled "Ilhan Omar Wants Americans to Wear Traditional Muslim Coverings to Avoid Spreading Virus" (archived here) which opened:
America is a Christian Nation. We are free to dress as we please, and it has never before been suggested that Americans wear Muslamic clothing. It is offensive to us patriots, and it will not be allowed in this country. We are tired of the other religions always being offended.
Ilhan Omar apparently doesn't care. She went so far as suggesting that all Americans wear her Muslamic dress. This is what she said in her own words:
"This is a serious crisis. I think Americans need to be responsible and do their part to help stop the spread of this plague. I suggest that all Americans wear a burqa and full coverings. This will effectively keep the germs from spreading."
The words "us patriots" in the story linked to a picture of some kind of wheelbarrow race, and the story was published in a category named "Satire for Islamaphobes". The article also used the word "Muslamic", which is a non-existent word often used on the site to describe Islamic practices in a way that sounds plausibly derogatory without actually having any real meaning.
The original story racked up only about 10,000 engagements on Facebook, but it was copied and spread by several foreign fake news sites that omitted the satire disclaimers and hints that cover every article on BustaTroll.org
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 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.
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
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 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.