Fake Fact Check: Politifact Rates Obviously Satirical Bergdahl Entry 'Pants on Fire'

November 17th, 2017 7:43 PM

Boy, it's a good thing that Google and Facebook have enlisted "fact checkers" like the Associated Press, Snopes, and Politifact to vet questionable stories appearing in their news feeds. After all, those sites are experts at identifying so-called "fake news" ...

Oh, wait a minute. Politifact's PunditFact affiliate just wasted its time fact-checking and evaluating a story published by a widely known, self-acknowledged satire site.

Totally lacking both a satire detector and a sense of humor, Punditfact's Amy Sherman gave a made-up story about Bowe Bergdahl leaving a courtroom and disappearing a "Pants on Fire" evaluation.

The site which posted the entry is Duffel Blog, which has been publishing satirical stories online for more than 5-1/2 years. A simple web search on Duffel Blog returns the following at the very top of the results page:


As might be expected, the site itself hams it up, calling itself "The American Military's Most Trusted News Source" at the top left corner of its home page.

Sherman's primary complaint at Punditfact Thursday afternoon was that the site doesn't make its satirical nature sufficiently obvious. Give, me, a, break (H/T Twitchy):


... The Duffel Blog says that Bergdahl now has walked out of a military courtroom during a pre-trial hearing, prompting a statewide manhunt.

"Sources inside the courtroom say that Bergdahl took only a half-full Camelbak and a long hunting knife with him as he calmly made his way to the exit during his own lawyer’s remarks to the judge regarding a possible plea deal," states the article.

He left behind a note, the blog says:

"Life is way too short to care for the damnation of others. I am ashamed to even be an American (deserter)."

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. This story is fake.

The story is satire. It is not "fake news."

Yes, it's meant to fool readers at first, but anyone who reads through the entire item will know that it's intended to be satire, and not "fake news," which by its very nature is designed to genuinely deceive or mislead readers.

Reading between the lines of the following paragraphs, the guess here is that Amy Sherman was originally tricked into believing that the story submitted by Duffel Blog was presented as serious news:

The Duffel Blog calls itself "the American military’s Most Trusted news source" but readers will have to find the disclaimer to learn this is fake news.

"We are in no way, shape, or form, a real news outlet," states the disclaimer. "Everything on this website is satirical and the content of this site is a parody of a news organization. No composition should be regarded as truthful, and no reference of an individual, company, or military unit seeks to inflict malice or emotional harm. All characters, groups, and military units appearing in these works are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual military units and companies is purely coincidental."

We contacted a person affiliated with the website and he told us, "Our ‘about’ page is pretty straightforward."

No kidding.

Translation of Duffel Blog's response: "We shouldn't have to hit you over the head with a flippin' 2x4 for you to be able to recognize satire."

Additionally, "How can you not recognize that these and other articles are also obviously satirical?":

More seriously, it would appear that, in the name of purity, Facebook intends to remove obviously satirical news items from its news feed. Or perhaps the folks at Politifact and its affiliates are too dense to tell Team Zuckerberg, "Guys, this is satire. It's cool. Let it go." It would appear that we're not allowed to have any fun without being accused of spreading "fake-news" if we share Duffel Blog's entries on Facebook.

Perhaps the good news here is that if Politifact and other fact checkers are wasting time evaluating obviously satirical posts as "fake news," they're spending less time dishonestly evaluating genuine news.

We have rated this "fact-check" by Politifact as Fully Fake. For similar analyses, please visit our Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers site. 

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.