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Hoax Alert

Fake News: West Wing Source Did NOT Claim 'Melania Has Been Dead For Days'

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sat, 09 Jun 2018 06:32:43 Z)

Has a West Wing source claimed that Melania Trump has been dead for days after a failed liver transplant? No, that's not true: the story was invented out of whole cloth by a website set up to troll conservatives and Trump supporters into sharing fake news so the fans of the site can then point and laugh at them. Although this kind of "news" might get certain liberals overly excited too. There is no truth to the rumor at all.

The latest Melania death hoax originated from an article published by Daily World Update on June 9, 2018 titled "UNCONFIRMED: West Wing Source Claims 'Melania Has Been Dead For Days'" (archived here) which opened:

A man nobody wants to claim yet nobody can deny has started what may be one of the most harmful rumors to date of this White House. Art Tubolls, chief correspondent to the President for the Office of Information and Propaganda, told Skip Tetheluda of the New York Examiner-Tribune that Melania Trump hasn't been seen for days because she was "laying on a slab at Annapolis."

According to Tetheluda:

"Melania's 'emergency' surgery was a liver transplant to save her life. Her body rejected the new liver and she died. Plain and simple. I don't understand why we're supposed to keep that a secret. the First lady is dead. That can't be kept below board."

Screenshot of https://dailyworldupdate.us/2018/06/09/unconfirmed-west-wing-source-claims-melania-has-been-dead-for-days/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

UNCONFIRMED: West Wing Source Claims 'Melania Has Been Dead For Days'

The press corp was just evicted from the White House and escorted from the grounds.

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

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
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.

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, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. 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.

The phrase "nobody can deny" in the original article links directly to his Twitter account @BustaTroll. And "Art Tubbols" is an anagram of "Busta Troll".

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 dailyworldupdate.us 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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Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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