Christian satire website the Babylon Bee recently published a note to readers announcing they have retained a law firm to represent them after Snopes “fact-checked”
yet another of their satirical articles and openly questioned whether the Bee should even qualify as satire. The Bablyon Bee said the “smear” in the Snopes’ article seems to be part of “an effort to discredit and deplatform us.”
Last week, the Bee published a satirical article on
the Erica Thomas controversy, making fun of the Georgia state lawmaker who lied about a white man telling her to “go back” to where she came from with a headline that read, “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.'”
Snopes attempted to debunk the obvious joke, rating the article “false” and editorializing their fact check with a sub-headline that read, “We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as satire.”
Acknowledging that Snopes regularly fact-checks their satire, the Bee’s note explains why they believe this editorialization went too far.
“This time, instead of merely rating the article ‘false,’ they questioned whether our work qualifies as satire, and even went so far as to suggest that we were deliberately deceiving our readers,” the note reads.
The Babylon Bee’s founder and editor Adam Ford
posted a long thread on Twitter last week further exposing how Snopes attacked the Bee and “veered toward pronouncing a moral judgment, assigning motives, and presuming to dictate — to one of the most popular satire sites on the planet — what does and does not count as satire.”
First, look at the subtitle of the Snopes piece: “We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire.'”
What an indictment!
Just in the subtitle of this “objective fact check” they’ve veered toward pronouncing a moral judgment, assigning motives, and presuming to dictate — to one of the most popular satire sites on the planet — what does and does not count as satire.
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) July 25, 2019
Now this sentence is quite troubling. Describing the Bee article as a “ruse.”
Let me define “ruse” for you: “an action intended to deceive someone.”
Now that’s an accusation.
“Basically, they treated us as a source of intentionally misleading fake news, rather than as the legitimate, well-known satire publication that we are. This is a big deal,” the Bee’s note explains.
The Bee says it is especially concerned about its satire being conflated with “fake news” because social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are
cracking down and deplatforming websites that are labeled sources of misinformation by fact-checkers like Snopes.
“For better or worse, the media, the public, and social networks all look to Snopes for authoritative answers. By lumping us in with fake news and questioning whether we really qualify as satire, Snopes appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us. While we wish it wasn’t necessary, we have retained a law firm to represent us in this matter,” the Bee concludes.
In response to the criticism, Snopes published an editor’s note and softened the language of its fact-check of the Erica Thomas satire piece:
Editors’ Note: Some readers interpreted wording in a previous version of this fact check as imputing deceptive intent on the part of Babylon Bee in its original satirical piece about Erica Thomas, and that was not the editors’ aim. To address any confusion, we have revised some of the wording mostly for tone and clarity. We are in the process of pioneering industry standards for fact-checking the treatment of satire and will keep you posted on our progress.
Much of the original writing and editorialization criticized by Ford was changed.