The supposed regulator of fake news, Snopes, embarrassed itself on Wednesday when the company dedicated precious resources, employee time, electricity, and bandwidth to literally fact-check the deliberately and openly unapologetic satirical fake news Christian site, Babylon Bee.
This week, Babylon Bee took aim at the Jussie Smollett hate hoax fiasco with an article headlined, “Jussie Smollett Offered Job At CNN After Fabricating News Story Out Of Thin Air.”
“While Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been having a tough week so far, there appears to be a silver lining: cable news channel CNN has offered Smollett a job as an investigative reporter and on-air anchor after witnessing his skills at fabricating a story entirely out of thin air,” the article cheekily said. “CNN producers were reportedly impressed throughout the ongoing saga of Smollett’s apparent hoax attack on himself. They realized early on the facts didn’t add up but were fascinated with how well the actor kept the narrative going. An HR rep quickly reached out to Smollett to see if he’d be interested in taking on a position at the news organization after news broke that the entire thing was probably fabricated.”
Since Babylon Bee bills itself as “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” nobody, except maybe a minority of gullible readers, treated the article as an actual news report. That glaring reality did not stop Snopes from giving it a “False” rating, the equivalent of police arresting an Al Pacino impressionist at a comedy club for identity theft. Snopes wrote:
While Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been having a tough week so far, there appears to be a silver lining: cable news channel CNN has offered Smollett a job as an investigative reporter and on-air anchor after witnessing his skills at fabricating a story entirely out of thin air.
Actor Jussie Smollett was embroiled in a controversy in February 2019 after he told police he had been assaulted on the streets of Chicago in a possible hate crime. While law enforcement was looking into these claims, rumors circulated that the Empire actor had orchestrated the attack.
The network, according to the Babylon Bee, was reportedly impressed with Smollett’s ability to fabricate a story out of thin air.
Only at the very end of the report did Snopes clarify that Babylon Bee is a satirical news site and never intended for the story to be taken as hard news.
This is not the first time that Snopes wasted resources to give Babylon Bee a “False” rating. In 2018, Snopes flagged the site for an exuberantly over-the-top article about CNN buying a washing machine to “spin the news.”
On 1 March 2018, the Babylon Bee web site published an article reporting that CNN had made a significant investment in heavy machinery to assist their journalists ‘spin’ the news they report.
Although it should have been obvious that the Babylon Bee piece was just a spoof of the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media “bias” and “fake news,” some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally. But the site’s footer gives away the Babylon Bee’s nature by describing it as “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” and the site has been responsible for a number of other (usually religious-themed) spoofs that have been mistaken for real news articles.
Snope has also repeatedly fact-checked The Onion, another openly satirical fake news site.