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Politics Trump tweets satirical news story: What is Babylon Bee and is it 'fake news'?

17:00  16 october  2020
17:00  16 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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President Donald Trump on Friday morning tweeted a link to an unapologetically fake news website, appearing to share the satirical story in earnest.

The knowingly fake story came from Babylon Bee, a satire site with a conservative bent, and claimed, in jest, that Twitter was shutting down its platform to prevent the spread of negative news about Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

graphical user interface, text: A tweet from President Donald Trump shared a link to a story from a satirical news website Friday morning. © Twitter screenshot/@realDonaldTrump A tweet from President Donald Trump shared a link to a story from a satirical news website Friday morning.

"Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this," Trump tweeted.

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Across internet platforms, the website says its "news" is made up and intended as satire. While it often targets a liberal ideology and Democratic politicians, Trump and other conservatives are occasionally poked fun of, too.

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Here's a look at Babylon Bee and what it is:

Is Babylon Bee fake?

Yes.

While Trump generally lumps mainstream media outlets into the category of "fake news," the website is clear that what it publishes isn't real.

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Its Twitter page jokingly describes itself as "Fake news you can trust," and its website says it is "the world’s best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims."

Unlike malicious disinformation websites, Babylon Bee isn't necessarily trying to dupe its reader into believing what it publishes is real.

Headlines on the site range from commentary on current events to the absurd. "Big Tech Fights Election Interference By Interfering In Election," "Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch" and "Teen Applies Entire Case Of Axe Body Spray Before Heading To Youth Group" were all featured on the site's homepage Friday morning.

However, other headlines mock transgender people and Black Lives Matter protesters.

Does Trump know Babylon Bee is fake?

Unclear.

Trump's Friday morning tweet appears sincere. The president has also retweeted other links from the Babylon Bee.

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In Trump's initial tweet, he also referred to Biden and "Big T." Some Twitter users thought Trump was referring to himself with "Big T", but he later tweeted it was a reference to "Big Tech." His second tweet, coming about two and a half hours after the first one that shared the Babylon Bee post, did not address whether he knew the story was satirical.

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Trump often sends numerous retweets in early morning spurts and has been known to amplify conspiracy theories and disinformation in doing so.

"I do a lot of retweets," Trump said Thursday during an NBC News town hall, saying he just puts things out there and "people can decide for themselves."

However, the website's editor-in-chief, Kyle Mann, told The New York Times this month: “He does know it’s satire. ... We are assured.”

After Trump's tweet Friday, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon also tweeted, "The Babylon Bee is the president’s most trusted news source."

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What's behind Babylon Bee?

The site has been characterized as a conservative and Christian response to The Onion. Launched in March 2016, the site draws some 8 million readers a month, its leaders told The New York Times.

While it is occasionally critical of Trump, especially in its early days, the website largely goes after Democrats and their followers.

“The things we see as most absurd, the bad ideas most deserving of ridicule tend to be ideas on the left,” Dillon told the Times. “We’re not trying to be a fair, objective site that equally makes fun of everyone.”

Until now, the Bee's most famous "story" was about how an appeals court overturned the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some people took that story literally, too.

Given its spread, posts on the website are occasionally debunked by mainstream news outlets and fact-checking websites, including USA TODAY and Snopes.

USA TODAY's Fact Check reporters addressed the headline from Babylon Bee jokingly saying that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned Ginsburg's death as well as one that quipped Trump would nominate himself to the Supreme Court.

Contributing: David Jackson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump tweets satirical news story: What is Babylon Bee and is it 'fake news'?

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This is interesting!