Fake News No More: Dozens of Babylon Bee Satire Pieces Turn Into Real Stories

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The Florida-headquartered satirical news website became a household name ahead of the 2020 presidential election, and has been characterized as The Onion for conservatives and Christians, although it is also enjoyed by independents and those who can handle a political joke or two.

The Babylon Bee has repeatedly been caught in government and media dragnets to crack down on so-called disinformation and fake news, with major outlets occasionally falling for and reprinting some of its gut-busting satirical claims, and Snopes even fact-checking a Bee piece about CNN buying an industrial-sized washing machine to literally spin the news.

Now, the company, whose tagline is ‘Fake News You Can Trust’, has a problem of another sort: its fake news pieces becoming reality.

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According to Babylon Bee founder Seth Dillon, over 90 of the site’s joke headlines have become actual news stories over time.

“It ranges from really silly stuff like – we did a joke during the pandemic about how pants sales were plummeting because everyone was working from home. And it was this picture of a guy sitting there in his boxers, but he’s got a nice dress shirt on at his desk. And the very next day in Yahoo Finance there was this story about how Walmart was seeing increased sales of tops, but not bottoms,” Dillon recalled in an interview with US media.

“We make a joke about how Kamala Harris was taking likability lessons from Hillary Clinton, which is just insane and silly – who would take likeability lessons from Hillary Clinton? But then a month later there’s a real story that her staff reached out to Hillary’s staff to make her more likable,” he added.

In another example, last fall, the Bee penned a joke-style article offering “9 Reasons Not to Worry About the Tanking Economy.” Days later, a column appeared in Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post on “7 ways a recession could be good for you financially.”

“We even did one about Trump, about how Trump had claimed to have done more for Christianity than Jesus himself. That one went crazy viral, it got fact-checked and rated ‘false’, and two years later he actually said it. He said he’d ‘done more for Christianity than anyone else in history, in fact he’s done more for religion than anyone else in history,’” Dillon recalled.

The problem, Dillon said, is that today’s news stories often already come across as satire due to their whimsical, “incredibly outrageous” nature. “We’re living in really crazy, insane times. So yes, there are plenty of times where we pull up a headline, and we’re just baffled by it.”

The issue of fake, satirical news blending with reality has been a feature of reality for at least the past two decades, and been fueled by the rise of the internet and social media, and the often surreal political clown show in Washington. Academics have speculated that satire has become an important feature of the postmodern age in which we live because the latter denies the difference between reality and what appears to be, and embraces incoherence and meaninglessness.

Despite its obvious satirical nature, the Bee’s close-to-the-real-news approach and sharp political angle has gotten it into repeated trouble with censors. In 2022, the site saw its Twitter account suspended after jokingly labeling a transgender Biden administration official “man of the year.” The account was restored by Elon Musk after he bought out the microblogging giant last October.

Source: https://sputniknews.com/20230326/fake-news-no-more-dozens-of-babylon-bee-satire-pieces-turn-into-real-stories-1108807276.html