Fact Check: Federal Magistrate Did NOT Approve $110 Million Defamation Suit Filed By Kyle Rittenhouse Against LeBron James

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Federal Magistrate Did NOT Approve $110 Million Defamation Suit Filed By Kyle Rittenhouse Against LeBron James It's Satire

Did a federal magistrate approve a $110 million defamation suit filed by Kyle Rittenhouse against LeBron James? No, that's not true: The article making the claim is from a network of satire websites that have published fictitious claims about lawsuits filed against celebrities by Rittenhouse, who was was acquitted after shooting three men at an anti-police brutality protest in 2020.

The claim originated in an article (archived here) published by Potatriots Unite on November 28, 2021. The title of the article read:

Federal Magistrate Approves Kyle Rittenhouse's $110 Million Defamation Suit Against LeBron James

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

Federal Magistrate Approves Kyle Rittenhouse's $110 Million Defamation Suit Against LeBron James

Your biased Cleveland judges can't help you now!

James was criticized by Rittenhouse's spokesperson after posting a tweet during Rittenhouse's trial that implied that the 18-year-old's emotional breakdown during his testimony was fake.

However, Rittenhouse did not file a defamation lawsuit against James. Lead Stories did not find any evidence of a magistrate judge named "Joe Barron" as the article stated, nor is there a "7th Federal Court of Writs and Warrants."

Potatriots Unite 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":

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 that 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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