Fact Check: Obama's Daughters NOT Caught on Camera Burning US Flag at DC Protest

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Obama's Daughters NOT Caught on Camera Burning US Flag at DC Protest Liberal Satire

Were the daughters of former President Obama caught on camera burning US flags during a protest in Washington DC? No, that's not true. The story was originally 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 story originated in an article (archived here) where it was published by BustaTroll.org on June 3, 2020 under the title "Obama's Daughters Caught on Camera Burning US Flag at DC Protest". It opened:

In a show of anti-American sentiment that will surprise precisely no one, Sasha and Malia Obama were allegedly caught on camera burning a United States flag during a protest in Washington, DC. Kneeling across the street from the White House, they were seen wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and singing "Amazing Grace" while holding hands with other protestors.

But things took a turn for the worse when riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, all to clear the way for President Donald Jebediah Trump to waddle across the street for a photo op in front of a church he doesn't attend, wave around a copy of a holy book he doesn't read, and ramble like a psychotic dictator of a country he doesn't love.

Sasha and Malia had come to the protest equipped with military-grade gas masks, so they were not overcome by the tear gas that crippled so many of their fellow protestors. They stood still in front of the advancing police, trying to give others a chance to escape the rubber bullets and tear gas.

However it was published under categories named "Satire Just for Sandy" and "Satire That Will Anger the Average Tater" on a website with several satire disclaimers and logos.

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 bustatroll.org 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.

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  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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