Fact Check: Actor James Woods NOT Dead at 74

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Actor James Woods NOT Dead at 74 "Satire"

Did actor James Woods die and was he found dead by police? 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 death hoax appeared as an article published by ConservativeTears.com on August 28, 2020 titled "James Woods, Actor, Patriot, and Trump Supporter, Dead at 74" (archived here) which opened:

James Humphrey Terwilliger Woods, conservative icon, award-winning actor, and patriotic Trump supporter was found dead in his home last night at 74.

According to police reports, they haven't ruled out foul play, though they can't imagine who would want Mr. Woods dead. Lead detective Art Tubolls told us that this was one of the saddest cases he's ever worked

Woods's middle name is "Howard" of course and the story was literally published under a category named "Death Hoax" on a website that says "Death Hoaxes for your thoughs and prayers" in the header so it is not true. Woods is still alive, as is also evidenced by his latest tweet just a few hours ago:

The man who runs the site uses the nickname "Busta Troll" and the name of the detective in the story ("Art Tubolls") is an anagram of that nom-de-plume.

The story also speculated on the (fictional) cause of death:

There is, however, growing evidence that Woods may have died of embarrasment after sharing an article from a liberal troll's satire network that was both ridiculous and clearly disclaimered. And it wasn't the first time.

The article sharing is real, as evidenced by this tweet (archived here):

Mr. Woods could have read our fact check of that story which we published on June 2, 2020 and which indeed concluded it was a false story published by a liberal satire website.

The site (and conservativetears.com) are both 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. 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 conservativetears.com as:

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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  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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