Fact Check: Democratic Senator Knope NOT Caught With 8000 Mail-In Ballots

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fact Check: Democratic Senator Knope NOT Caught With 8000 Mail-In Ballots Trolling

Did Democratic Senator Leslie Knope get caught with 8,000 pre-marked ballots while at Joe Biden's headquarters in Pawnee, Indiana? No, that's not true: This was published by a satire website that publishes fictional claims intended to troll conservatives. Indiana's freshman senator is Republican Mike Braun. Leslie Knope is a fictional character portrayed by actress Amy Poehler in the TV sitcom "Parks and Recreation," which is based in the non-existent city of Pawnee, Indiana.

The claim originated in an article (archived here) published by PotatriotsUnite.com on August 13, 2020, under the title "Dem Senator Knope Caught With 8000 Mail-In Ballots". It opened:

If you still think mail-in ballots are a safe and secure way to go like the liberal media wants you to believe and that there's never been any evidence of widespread voter fraud, it's time for a rude awakening. Indiana's freshman Senator Leslie Knope was busted yesterday at the Joe Biden fundraising headquarters located in the town of Pawnee with over 8000 pre-marked ballots, just waiting to be sent.

This is what social media users saw at the time of writing:

She should be jailed! This isn't a "mistake."

Posted by American Ladies Of Liberty on Thursday, August 13, 2020

We published this debunk to make it clear to those who were fooled into think it is real, that is it not.

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. 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 potatriotsunite.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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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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