Fact Check: Three States Did NOT Pull CNN'S Broadcasting License -- As A Cable Network, CNN Is 'Non-Broadcasting'

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Three States Did NOT Pull CNN'S Broadcasting License -- As A Cable Network, CNN Is 'Non-Broadcasting' Non-Broadcast

Did Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi "pull" CNN's "broadcasting license"? No, that's not true: The article making that claim is a carbon copy of a troll page's counterfeit story, with fake names for government officials purportedly quoted. The premise is impossible, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines Cable News Network (CNN) as non-broadcast, meaning CNN does not have a broadcast license that can be retracted.

The fake story originated on americaslastlineofdefense.com in August, 2020, reaappearing a year later as an article posted by Englishwire in November 2021 titled "Three States Pull CNN's Broadcasting License, 'They Fail to be Truthful'" (archived here), which opened:

CNN has a long history of spreading lies and half-truths. This isn't surprising, as they are owned by the Clinton Foundation. It seems their reign of misinformation may be starting to crumble, as today they are finally beginning to pay the price for their dishonesty as state governments are starting to take action.

Three states, all led by Republican governors, have decided to pull the plug on CNN within their borders. These great states are Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, the unholy trinity of states that have the best quality of living and education in the nation, so they know what they are doing with this decision.

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

CNN license Image.png

Unlike americaslastlineofdefense.com, which identifies itself as a trolling site that hopes to embarass conservatives by posting fake stories conservatives will re-post as fact, Englishwire describes itself as a conservative news site, which means the trolling worked.

A July 2, 2003, publication states that the FCC defines CNN as "non-broadcast programming," which means the FCC does not license this network. The FCC only provides licenses to local radio and television networks that operate over public airwaves.

The names of the government officials cited in the article are not real. Lynn Fitch is Mississippi's current attorney general -- not "Chad Benoit." There also is no Mississippi state senator named "Joe Barron" on the 2020-2023 Mississippi State Senate roll.

A Google search using keywords "Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi Pull CNN's Broadcasting License" also displayed no results that substantiate this claim, nor has there been any news coverage in general or on media-specific news outlets on what would be a significant media story if it were true.

America's Last Line of Defense articles come with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

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.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including wearethellod.com, bustatroll.org or bebest.website. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up.

Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:

'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America

November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

Updates:

  • 2021-11-11T18:49:17Z 2021-11-11T18:49:17Z
    Updated to note the troll-site origin of the story about CNN.

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  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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