President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of fake news, tweeted a link to a satirical news site with a message making it seem as if he didn’t understand it was false. Early on Friday, October 16, Trump shared a link from the Babylon Bee, a fake news site that publishes joke stories based on real conservative talking points, like “Democratic Party Now Selling Official Riot Supplies.”
Sharing a story with the headline “Twitter Shuts Down Entire Network To Slow Spread Of Negative Biden News,” President Trump wrote in a tweet Friday morning: “Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe & Big T.”
Trump’s tweet also included the @ for the outlet the story came from, the Babylon Bee, which describes itself on Twitter as “Fake news you can trust.” The story Trump shared is about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey attempting to use a special emergency sledgehammer stored in his office to smash his company’s servers, but, in the process, creating a robot that attacks cis white men. After the president’s tweet, the Babylon Bee wrote on Twitter that its website was unavailable for some users due to high traffic.
In a later tweet, Trump clarified his earlier post, but only what he meant by the phrase “Big T,” writing, “Big T was not a reference to me, but rather to Big Tech, which should have been properly pointed out in Twitter’s Fake Trending Section!”
Trump’s outrage and the joke story he shared appear to be part of a larger conservative backlash against decisions by Twitter and Facebook to limit the distribution of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden. As Vanity Fair explored, the tabloid’s hit piece was apparently sourced from Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and staunch Trump ally. Around this time last year, Vanity Fair examined how Giuliani was looking for anything related to Ukraine that he can smear the Democratic candidate with — the exact kind of dirty work that got Trump impeached before he was acquitted by Senate Republicans.
Trump, a frequent critic of the news media, has made the declaration of “Fake news!” his go-to defense against practically any negative or critical coverage of his administration. Whether or not the president understands that he shared a satirical link is still unclear.
As noted by USA Today, “Unlike malicious disinformation websites, Babylon Bee isn’t necessarily trying to dupe its reader into believing what it publishes is real.”
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