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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Dick Van Dyke Did NOT Die, Did NOT Leave $59 Million To Trump Foundation

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 01 Oct 2018 09:36:19 Z)

Did Dick Van Dyke die and did he leave millions to the Trump foundation? No, that's not true: a satire story from a liberal site that loves to troll conservatives into sharing fake news was picked up by a "real" fake news website and went viral. Van Dyke is not dead and he did not leave Trump any money.

The story originated from an article published on September 29, 2018 by America's Last Line of Defense titled "Dick Van Dyke [1925-2018] Just Left $59 Million To Trump Foundation" (archived here) which opened:

On Friday, the world lost one of the greats, Dick Van Dyke. The comedian and actor spent his lifetime keeping us entertained and reminding us that America is, at its core, a wholesome place.

Van Dyke taught us that good, Christian morals are how we can get through as a nation, and he wanted to make sure that Americans have the chance to have the society they deserve. Breitbart News reports:

In his will, Van Dyke specified that "the total sale value of the house in Bermuda shall be donated to the Trump Foundation to help in their mission to make the country and world great again."

This is the first time Dick Van Dyke has spoken out about President Trump. For whatever reason, he chose to do it from beyond the grave. But his message is clear: "Only President Trump can save America from herself."

Screenshot of https://trumpbetrayed.us/all/dick-van-dyke-hates-you/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, not making it immediately clear the story was false:

Dick Van Dyke [1925-2018] Just Left $59 Million To Trump Foundation


But the last time Breitbart News wrote about Dick Van Dyke was in 2016 when they reported about him introducing Bernie Sanders at a rally:

Dick Van Dyke: Bernie Sanders 'The Sanest Man in America'

During brief introductory remarks at Santa Barbara City college, the 90-year-old star of the Dick Van Dyke Show said he had a "really important" message for older voters. "Mostly I want to be here to talk to my generation," Van Dyke said, according to the Hill. "I have a really important message for them.

It would seem unlikely he would leave Trump any money, especially since the "Breitbart News" link in the story went to a Google Translate page that turned the phrase "If you believe this, you are an idiot." into the Swedish equivalent.

The story was copied verbatim (archive copy here) by a website using the domain name "abcnews.live" (not the real abcnews.com) , which seems to be part of a larger network of sites all using the same Google Adsense account:

  • bestconservativenews.com
  • dailyusaupdate.com
  • www.abcnews.live
  • www.breaktimedaily.com
  • www.conscountry.us
  • www.conservativecolumns.com
  • www.conservativenation.us
  • www.conservativepaper.us
  • www.proudpatriot.us
  • www.redbox.news
  • www.redinfo.us
  • www.redpeople.us
  • www.redpolitics.us
  • www.theconsinfo.com
  • www.thelibertynews.us
  • www.thelibertyraise.com

Several of these sites were either registered in Macedonia or by a man using a Bulgarian telephone number. The copied version of the hoax racked up over 30,000 engagements so far on Facebook while the original got just over 10,000.

The site that originally posted the hoax 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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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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