Did Kenny Rogers' wife donate half of the singer's estate to Trump's re-election? No, that's not true: It was originally published as satire by a network that trolls conservatives with fake claims. It was then stolen by click-bait websites that did not also include the satire labels in the plagiarized versions. Rogers' widow has not donated half of the estate from the late entertainer to the effort to re-elect President Trump.
The claims originated in an article (archived here) where it was published by tatersgonnatate.com on March 21, 2020, under the title "Kenny Rogers' Wife Donates Half His Estate To Trump's Re-Election: 'It's What He Would Have Wanted'". It opened:
"I love what he says, I have to admit." That was what Kenny Rogers had to say about Donald Trump in 2015. Today, as the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest performers of all time, that sentiment will be shared in dollars. According to Sandy Batt, spokesperson for Kenny's wife, Dominique Tubolls Rogers, Kenny's estate will be split between his family -- and Trump 2020:
"Kenny wanted Trump to win, so this is the best way for that to happen. Kenny has always been an island in the stream of Trump's presidency. He once told him during a dinner in Palm Beach that there was no way he should 'fold 'em and walk away.' Trump told him not to worry."
This is what social media users saw:
"We love you, Kenny Rogers. You will never be forgotten."Posted by America's Last Line Of Defense on Saturday, March 21, 2020
Readers of the original article should realize it is satire, considering the many labels on the page telling them that. However, the stolen versions may be hard to discern. Kenny Rogers fans should know that one paragraph includes false information about Rogers donating proceeds from "Roasters" to Trump:
Rogers has already done more for the Trump campaign than most, offering free coleslaw to Trump campaign staff with the purchase of a half-chicken dinner at "Roasters," and allowing them to refill their drink cups for half price. Staffers sent Kenny a thank you note once, telling how much they appreciated the gesture, as Trump paid them minimum wage and made no promises for White House jobs, though many of them now hold deputy cabinet positions.
Fans know that Rogers separated himself from the restaurant chain in 1998 after it filed for bankruptcy. The last "Roasters" in the United States closed in 2011.
The site 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):
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.
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:
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 tatersgonnatate.com 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.