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Hoax Alert

Fake News: NC Clerk Did NOT Refuse To Sell Gas To Man Fleeing Hurricane Over Trump Bumper Sticker

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Thu, 13 Sep 2018 21:37:38 Z)

Did a North Carolina gas station clerk named Marvin Jones refuse to sell gas to a Trump supporter fleeing hurricane Florence because he had a Trump sticker on his truck? No, that's not true: a satirical liberal site made up the story in order to trick republicans and Trump supporters into getting angry enough to share fake news so fans of the site can then mock them for it online. The story is not real, it didn't happen.

The story originated from an article published on September 13, 2018 titled "NC Clerk Refuses To Sell Gas To Man Fleeing Hurricane Over Trump Bumper Sticker" (archived here) which opened:

As Hurricane Florence continues to pound the Carolinas, people are banding together and helping each other out. But a gas station attendant in Charlotte, North Carolina doesn't think that the middle of a hurricane is the right time to put his political differences aside and help his fellow Americans -- even if they are handing him money.

Marvin Jones, a clerk at a Marathon station in Charlotte, realized that the gas shortage was going to make life difficult for many trying to flee the hurricane. But he wanted to play God, picking and choosing who lives and who dies.

When Earl Hammerschmidt showed up with a nearly-empty tank of gas and 300 miles to drive to his nearest relative's house, he just wanted to buy some fuel. But instead what he got was discrimination.

Screenshot of https://trumpbetrayed.us/all/yes-we-have-no-bananas/

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

NC Clerk Refuses To Sell Gas To Man Fleeing Hurricane Over Trump Bumper Sticker

'We only sell to liberals'

However the screenshot used to illustrate the story came from a 2011 news video about a would-be robber getting beat up by a gas station clerk with a martial arts background. The red baseball cap the robber is wearing doesn't even have "Make America Great Again" on it.

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.

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.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes trumpbetrayed.us as:

A website claiming to be satirical that publishes fabricated stories, run by Christopher Blair, a known purveyor of disinformation, that published fake stories about Senator John McCain after he passed away.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about trumpbetrayed.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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