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Fake News: Three Trump Campaign Workers Did NOT Enter 'Not Guilty' Pleas In Court

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 11 Apr 2018 21:50:50 Z)

Did Trump campaign operatives Sergei Russarov, Michail Menovelsi and Ivanich Lenowski plead guity to conspiracy to collude with a foreign government? No, that is a made up story from a website that publishes false articles to troll conservatives and Trump supporters into sharing them online without thinking so they can then be laughed at by the site's fans and supporters.

This article was published on April 11, 2018 by the Potatriot Post under the headline "Three Trump Campaign Workers Enter 'Not Guilty' Pleas In Court" (archived here). The story opened:

Three high-level Trump campaign operatives were charged with conspiracy to collude with a foreign government today after being indicted by Robert Mueller's grand jury. Sergei Russarov, Michail Menovelsi and Ivanich Lenowski all entered pleas of "But Hillary" in court.

The judge pointed out that the "But Hillary" defense didn't hold any merit, to which their attorney responded:

"These men worked tirelessly for the Trump campaign to make sure that the champion of the American people was elected while facing the hatred and lies from Hillary Clinton at every turn. They had to work through the pain of the Benghazi movie. They had to witness the corrupt Democrats in the FBI who were posing as Republicans their whole lives waiting for the opportunity to serve Obama's Deep State agenda."

Screenshot of http://potatriotpost.com/three-trump-campaign-workers-enter-not-guilty-pleas-in-court/

To people on social media who only saw the summary it may have looked like a real news story:

Three Trump Campaign Workers Enter 'Not Guilty' Pleas In Court

Charges were filed this afternoon against three people close to the President.

But the name of the laywer of the trio ("Art Tubbols") is an anagram for "Busta Troll", the nickname of Christopher Blair, the main who runs the network of sites to which the Potatriot Post belongs.

The Potatriot Post comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
noun
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

On top of that the header of the site also proclaims: "It's satire, stoopid!"

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites such as ladiesofliberty.net, thelastlineofdefense.online and dailyworldupdate.com. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

We wrote about potatriotpost.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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