Fact Check: Super Bowl Champions Did NOT Refuse Invitation To 'Stolen White House'

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: Super Bowl Champions Did NOT Refuse Invitation To 'Stolen White House' Satirical

Did the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers refuse a congratulatory invitation to the White House because the team believes the election victory was "stolen" by the current administration? No, that's not true: This is a false claim made by a known satire website. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Buccaneers are invited to the White House when it's "COVID safe."

The claim originated from a satire article published by taterforceone.com on February 8, 2021, titled "Superbowl Champions Refuse Invitation to 'Stolen' White House" (archived here), which opened:

It's that time of year again, for the bug kahuna of American football, the Superbowl. If you put together how important the sport of arm wrestling was to both Sylvester Stallone and Sammy Hagar in the movie "Over the Top", that's how many citizens treat NFL football, with the exception of a few bumblefarts who are still filling their diapers over kneeling or whatever.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Superbowl Champions Refuse Invitation to 'Stolen' White House

"Our team? Has American class, thank you."

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 and prominent satire disclaimers. 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 taterforceone.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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  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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