Fact Check: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Did NOT Call For A Ban On Tractor-Trailers; Did NOT Say 'Trucks Are Killing America'

Hoax Alert

  • by: Gita Smith
Fact Check: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  Did NOT Call For A Ban On Tractor-Trailers; Did NOT Say 'Trucks Are Killing America' Trolling

Did Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York call for a ban on tractor-trailers, saying, "Private truck drivers are destroying America?" No, that's not true: This claim was made in a satirical article published by a satire website that trolls conservatives. Sometimes, these fake stories are stolen by other websites and republished as real.

The trucking claim appeared in an article (archived here) on bustatroll.org on May 14, 2019, under the headline "Ocasio-Cortez Calls for Ban on Tractor-Trailers: 'Trucks are Killing America'."

It opened:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said some pretty wild things... Last month she proposed a nationwide ban on motorcycles because of the "safety risks" involved. Now she wants to place restrictions on people who drive a semi for a living.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

IS SHE CRAZY?

Posted by America's Last Line Of Defense on Sunday, October 27, 2019

The post goes on to falsely quote her as saying:

Trucks should all be government regulated and drivers should be on full-time camera..."

Even though the article is from a known satire site with the word "satire" included in the site's masthead, it has been shared as real including one Facebook post on July 19, 2020, that included the comment, "This is not satire. This is a direct quote ..."

Posted by Eric Trevelline on Sunday, July 19, 2020

The bustatroll.org site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" (ALLOD) network of satire websites run by self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. He runs several websites and Facebook pages with visible satire disclaimers everywhere. They mostly publish made-up stories with headlines specifically created to trigger Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians into angrily sharing or commenting on the story on Facebook without actually reading the full article, exposing them to mockery and ridicule by fans of the sites and pages.

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 who omit the satire disclaimer and other hints the stories are fake. One of the most persistent networks of such sites is run by a man from Pakistan named Kashif Shahzad Khokhar (aka "DashiKashi") who has spammed hundreds of such stolen stories into conservative and right-wing Facebook pages in order to profit from the ad revenue.

When fact checkers point this out to the people liking and sharing these copycat stories some of them get mad at the fact checkers instead of directing their anger at the foreign spammers or the liberal satire writers. Others send a polite "thank you" note, which is much appreciated.

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.

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  Gita Smith

Gita Smith covered news for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Montgomery Advertiser, and she wrote/edited medical newsletters for American Health Consultants at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic when clear, factual information was as needed. 

For a time, she taught in Auburn University’s journalism department and ran the History-Geography lab at Alabama State University, where she taught students to write research papers . She believes the following to be true: The power of the free press may appear to be a weak reed to lean on, but it separates democracies from juntas.

Read more about or contact Gita Smith

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