Babylon Bee, Snopes feud over fact-checking of satire

"The quasi-factual nature of the widely shared story triggered a response from Snopes, a popular fact-checking website. Snopes noted the inaccurate nature of the Bee’s story but also included in its post a subheading: 'We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as satire.'" - RNS

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I can see the complexity here. With the internet and fake news constantly flowing through it, satire and fake news can be mixed up.  Additionally, much of what we here in the real news -- and is real -- sounds as absurd as fake news.   I have had a hard tiem telling the difference on a number of occasions.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

Reading the article, I had to wonder which Babylon Bee the authors were reading, as they wrote that the Bee is going into political satire by making fun of liberals, as if they haven't been making fun of Donald Trump and his supporters for the past few years.  And, for that matter, a lot of people who are conservative, but didn't especially like Trump (like me).

And I love the Bee for that.  Really, if people cannot read "Fake news you can trust" on the top of every Babylon Bee page, they really need to be told by Snopes "it's a parody site, silly".  I think the biggest problem here is that--as the late novelist Tom Wolfe said at least 30 years back--is that it's getting hard to parody things because life is getting so weird.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

kirkedoyle's picture

I think the issue is that Snopes began to ascribe intent to deceive to the Bee, saying they "fanned the flame of controversy", "muddied the details of a news story", and calling it a "ruse" and an "apparent attempt to maximize online indignation."  Snopes even went back and edited the original report saying that some people misunderstood what they were saying.

 

    When large platforms that the BB uses for revenue sources use sites like Snopes to identify "fake news" that should be deplatformed, these things matter. (Last year Facebook threatened to take action against BB, though FB later apologized and I believe that Snopes isn't used in the same way anymore)  And then sites like Buzzfeed misrepresent the Bee's concerns in an effort to push them even further down the path.  I completely understand BB's frustration. 

 

Regarding the need to be clear about what is satire and what isn't - there have been very few BB stories that any reasonable person could have confused for anything but satire.  Some of the stories that Snopes "Fact Checked" included whether or not CNN had a giant washing machine to spin news, whether Democrats required Kavanaugh to submit to a DNA test to prove he was not actually Hitler, and whether AOC went on The Price is Right and guessed "free" on everything...

M. Osborne's picture

kirkedoyle wrote:

Regarding the need to be clear about what is satire and what isn't - there have been very few BB stories that any reasonable person could have confused for anything but satire.  Some of the stories that Snopes "Fact Checked" included whether or not CNN had a giant washing machine to spin news, whether Democrats required Kavanaugh to submit to a DNA test to prove he was not actually Hitler, and whether AOC went on The Price is Right and guessed "free" on everything...

If fact checks are really and truly needed for those stories, then it says more about the readers' gullibility than it says about the satire site that produced it.

Trying to guestimate, here...but I think I have more often responded to a true story, "Surely that has to be satire," than I have responded to a satire story, "Is that for real?"  

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA