NYT Buckles to Legal Pressure from The Babylon Bee, Removes Smear

June 14th, 2021 2:50 PM

The right-leaning and Christian satirical news site The Babylon Bee saw vindication on Monday after The New York Times bowed to their apparent legal pressure and removed what CEO Seth Dillion described as “defamatory statements” about the publication. And they have an e-mail from The Times’ legal team to prove it.

“The [New York Times] has responded to our demand letter by removing defamatory statements about us from their article. Here's their email to our counsel notifying us of the correction,” Dillion tweeted on Monday.



The saga started in mid-March when The Times via reporter Mike Isaac wrongly accused The Bee of being a “far-right misinformation site” that “trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.” The original article has since been edited but, at the time, Dillion noted on Twitter, “No other examples of far-right misinformation sites are offered. The Babylon Bee is the only one cited in this piece.”

Dillion also pointed out that The Times didn’t couldn’t even back put their assertions properly:

Notably, the words "trafficked in misinformation" are hyperlinked, presumably a supportive source. But the link they point to is another NY Times piece that actually refutes—rather than supports—the claim being made here by accurately describing us as a legitimate satire site.

Adding: “I'm pretty sure there's a legal term for what's happening here.”



In response to The Bee’s March objections, The Times did make some changes but this headline from the publication’s real news arm Not the Bee shows what they thought about it: “The New York Times updated their Babylon Bee smear aaaand it's still hot garbage.”

As Not the Bee’s Adam Ford reported, Isaac had tweeted at him about a March update to the story; “NOT that he had fixed the error, NOT to apologize for unfairly and untruthfully smearing the Bee ... but "to note that the piece has been updated to reference the past run-ins with Snopes and Facebook."

In the month of April, Dillion appeared on Fox News Channel’s Fox News @ Night and called out the liberal media’s mistreatment of conservative satire:

These liberal media outlets and personalities have tried to create this narrative about us where we're not actually a satire site, but a disinformation site and where we're putting out fake news on purpose to mislead people.

Things progress when, earlier this month, Not the Bee described The Bee as “lawyered-up” in a headline about the publication’s next moves.

The Times finally relented last Friday in an e-mail sent to The Bee’s lawyer. “We have carefully reviewed the the [sic] concerns raised in your letter and (…) we have removed the reference to the Babylon Bee from the article and appended a correction,” New York Times senior counsel Dana Green wrote.

The paper buried this correction at the very bottom of the page:

An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical website, and a controversy regarding the handling of its content by Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes. While both Facebook and Snopes previously have classified some Babylon Bee articles as misinformation, rather than satire, they have dropped those claims, and the Babylon Bee denies that it has trafficked in misinformation.



Dillion celebrated on Twitter by dragging The Times for “using misinformation to smear us as being a source of it. That's not merely ironic; it's malicious.” And thanked The Bee’s supporters: “We pushed back hard and won. Thanks to everyone who voiced and offered their support. We don't have to take this nonsense lying down. Remember that.”