Fact Check: Sasha Obama Was NOT Arrested In Connection With A Million-Dollar Shoplifting Ring

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Sasha Obama Was NOT Arrested In Connection With A Million-Dollar Shoplifting Ring Sasha Satire

Was Sasha Obama, daughter of former President Barack Obama, arrested in connection with a million-dollar shoplifting ring? No, that's not true: the website where the claim originated is a part of a satirical network of websites that publishes fictitious stories about liberal or Democratic public figures. For good measure, the satire site hot-linked the word "source" to a Russian phrase saying the source is made up.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published on Obamawatcher.com. It opened:

Police at a fancy shopping mall outside of Chicago have nabbed what they described as a "million-dollar shoplifting ring," and with it -- Sasha Obama. Obama was reportedly included in the intitial arrest but has since been removed from the record completely. No media has reported it and the Skokie police have no record that she's even been to Rosemont.

This is how the article looked on November 26, 2021:

obamawatcher story.png

(Source: Obamawatcher.com screenshot taken on Fri Nov 26 15:36 2021 UTC)

Among the indications that the claim is not true, there is an obvious one that appeared in the second paragraph of the article:

How did she get away with it? Simple. Our source tells us she used a bit of privilege along with some reverse racism to make it all disappear -- with a little help from Daddy...

The "Our source" hyperlink led readers to a Google Translate page that confirmed that details of the story were made-up. A screenshot of the page is included below:

google translate obamawatch.png

(Source: Google Translate screenshot taken on Fri Nov 26 15:29 2021 UTC)

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.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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