STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it. Blair's main website and Facebook page are named "America's Last Line of Defense" and he uses them to publish various articles and memes that are clearly labeled as satire but which get believed and shared anyway by many people who don't actually read the article or who only got to see a copied version on some other site with the disclaimers and labels missing.
The story also profiles one of his "victims" in Nevada, an 72-year-old woman named Shirley Chapian who liked and shared some of Blair's satirical memes and posts along with a steady stream of anti-immigrant, anti-islamic and conservative talking points from other sources. Saslow's story has been one of the most widely read articles so far about Christopher Blair and what he does.
Here at Lead Stories we've been following Blair's career from up close and we've written extensively about him and his hoaxes. We've also read much of what others have written about him in order to keep up with his sites and hoaxes.
So if you are looking for more information about Christopher Blair (aka "Busta Troll") you've come to the right place. Below we present to you our ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense reading list and we plan to keep it updated over time. Read from top to bottom to get the newest articles first or start at the bottom and scroll up if you want a chronological overview:
March 5, 2019, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair launches two new parody websites targeting Snopes.com and DeadState.org.
It appears the feud between Snopes and self-described internet troll Christopher Blair keeps on going: earlier this week he took to Facebook to announce a new parody website that explicitly takes aim at fact checking website Snopes by using a similar color and logo and which also mimics their article format.
January 13, 2019, DR, MBL.is, FranceInfo
Media from Denmark, Iceland and France all publish articles and videos featuring John Prager, Blair's second-in-command.
John Prager ruller dagens første cigaret og klør sig i skægstubbene, inden han går i gang med dagens første løgnehistorie. Han sidder i halvmørket, bag nedrullede persienner og kigger ind i sine to computerskærme. På den ene henter han inspiration ved at læse kommentarer, som læserne skriver på ét af højrefløjens mest populistiske medier, Breitbart.
John Prager vefur sér fyrstu sígarettu dagsins og gerir sig kláran til að semja fyrstu lygafrétt dagsins. Hann hefur tekjur sínar af hægri öfgasíðum sem hann heldur úti. Danska ríkisútvarpið DR ræðir við Prager. Prager situr í hálfrökkvuðu herbergi og horfir á tvo tölvuskjái.
France 2 France Télévisions À 36 ans, John Prager est l'un des plus actifs fabricants de fausses nouvelles des États-Unis. Sa dernière publication : l'aînée des Obama a été arrêtée en possession de drogue. Un texte comme un vrai article, une photo truquée et le tour est joué.
November 27, 2018, Anisa Subedar, BBC
Longread exploring Blair's methods and history, including his early work (the "goat herd"). Includes more bits of the conversation I had with Blair for a BBC radio podcast.
The stories were, in the main, pitched to Donald Trump supporters. They included rumours about Hillary Clinton's health problems and illegal dealings, stories about luminaries like Pope Francis lining up behind the Republican candidate, and other false news sure to either please or rile Trump's supporters.
November 18, 2018, Chelsea Clinton, Twitter
Chelsea Clinton publishes her reaction to Twitter after finding out about one of Blair's hoaxes involving her:
After reading this, am I supposed to be grateful that a fabricated story of @MichelleObama & I making a rude gesture to President Trump didn't go particularly viral? I'm not. I'm horrified people continue to profit from & be played by #fakenews: https://t.co/5g4UODY9U4-- Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) November 18, 2018
November 17, 2018, Eli Saslow, Washington Post
The first story to extensively profile someone in Blair's target audience:
November 17 at 7:40 PM The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.
November 3, 2018, Anisa Subedar, BBC
Two-part interview/report on Blair, including audio of the first spoken conversation I ever had with Blair:
Recently the BBC World Service's "Trending" programme did a two part story about Christopher Blair, the liberal troll and internet hoaxer well known to anybody who has been following Lead Stories' reporting on him.
October 23, 2018, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair announces a temporary halt on election related stories during the U.S. midterm elections:
Readers of this site are probably aware that some of the content found on Macedonian fake news websites is often copied directly from the satirical sites and Facebook pages of Christopher Blair and his friends.
October 5, 2018, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Another site copying articles from Blair goes offline:
Fake ABC News Website Taken Down After DMCA Complaint -- Already Replaced One Day Later By New Fake News Site | Lead Stories
A story about protesters vandalizing Brett Kavanaugh's house to the tune of $11,000 in damages went viral about four days ago and was first debunked by Lead Stories.
August 1, 2018, Daniel Funke, Poynter
Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for quite some time, this story gives a good summary:
It looks like a Snopes fact check. It reads like a Snopes fact check. And on first glance, it looks like one of the outlandish fake news stories that ends up getting debunked. But the article - titled "FACT-CHECK: Did Kim Jong Un Really Invite Donald Trump To His Birthday party?"
July 18, 2018, Kristina Rex, News Center Maine
Video interview with Blair about his trolling activities:
NORTH WATERBORO (NEWS CENTER Maine) - An explosion at Al Franken's house kills six people. A child is expelled from school for wearing a Donald Trump costume. Nancy Pelosi's daughter is arrested for drug trafficking. None of this is true, but it's shocking, and each is probably a headline you've seen in your Facebook feed.
May 14, 2018, Jason Schwartz and Shawn Musgrave, Politico
A look at how some of Blair's satire pieces end up chopped up and pasted together into actual fake news:
Kurt Withrow, a former insurance salesman from Palatine, Illinois, didn't mean to become one of the thousands of people who helped propel forward one of the most persistent fake news stories of the last year. But in January, a story making its way around Facebook caught his eye.
April 16, 2018, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Perhaps the strangest twist in the entire Christopher Blair saga: after seeing his reach and revenue decline dramatically as the result of Facebook's algorithm changes and site penalties, Blair and Prager launch several new websites selling sex toys (some of which can be sent to President Trump with a personalized message) and an actual network of porn sites:
Christopher Blair AKA Busta Troll Starts Several New Trolling Websites (And A Porn Site Network) | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Regular readers of Lead Stories know we've been following the exploits of Christopher Blair for quite some time now.
April 7,2018, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
An interview with John Prager, Blair's right-hand man and author of many of the stories on Blairs websites:
American Troll: John Prager Takes Us Inside Christopher Blair's Secret Troll Cave (Part 1/2) | Lead Stories
Readers of Lead Stories know we've been following the work of Christopher Blair ( featured in the Boston Globe today by coincidence) for quite some time now. For those of you who don't know him, he's the person behind such iconic satirically trolling news sites as The Last Line of Defense, Reagan Was Right, Ladies of Liberty, Freedum Junkshun, Daily World Update, As American As Apple Pie, Freedom Crossroads and several others.
April 7, 2018, Billy Baker, Boston Globe
Interview and profile of Blair's operation:
One of the country's biggest publishers of fake news says he did it for our own good - The Boston Globe
WATERBORO, Maine - Christopher Blair was sitting quietly in the corner of Dunkin' Donuts, not far from his home on an unpaved road in rural Maine, looking at his phone. People around him, absorbed in their own phones, paid no attention to the large man sitting alone among them.
April 4, 2018, Alex Kaplan, Media Matters
Several of Blair's sites and stories are mentioned in this piece about election interference on Facebook, including his often used "van full of illegals" trope:
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is catching foreigners interfering in elections. Here's what it missed.
Over the past couple of weeks, Facebook leaders including CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been repeating the talking point that the platform has found and deleted foreign accounts that pushed fake news about the December Alabama Senate special election. Zuckerberg even suggested that the accounts were deleted before they impacted "discussion around the election."
March 4, 2018, Hudson Reporter
Report about a U.S. politician in Hoboken, NJ receiving death threats based on fake stories originating on some of Blair's websites:
Within hours of Ravi Bhalla's election as Hoboken mayor on Nov. 7, more than 6,000 Twitter users retweeted a photo of him declaring victory - with one user adding, "Look at all the black and brown politicians out here winning I am so proud." Social media users and several national news outlets interpreted victories by ...
December 18, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair gets another fake news site shut down after discovering it was stealing his articles:
Christopher Blair Sends DMCA Takedown To Fake News Website Conservative Stamp, Hilarity Ensues | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. For regular readers of Lead Stories Christopher Blair needs no more introduction. They can skip the next paragraph. Others are kindly invited to keep reading.
December 15, 2017, Alex Kaplan, Media Matters
Blair gets criticized for some of his stories about the Alabama Senate special elections:
A man vocal about his aims to deceive conservatives with his "satire" websites has created multiple made-up stories alleging voter fraud in the Alabama Senate special election. Some of these made-up stories have gone viral and were subsequently copied by fake news websites in an attempt to delegitimize the election and fuel right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud.
November 22, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair launches more sites:
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Prolific prankster and internet troll Christopher Blair just launched another website to poke fun at unsuspecting conservatives who tend to think his stories are real and who often like, share and comment them into going viral.
November 12, 2017, Sarah Thompson, Exploiting the Niche
Example of a story "escaping" from one of Blair's sites and being copied by several fake news sites, leading to horrible comments and death threats:
November 11, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Freedum Junkshun is renamed to get around Facebook's block:
Earlier this week we reported that fake/satire site "Freedum Junkshun" had been put on a blacklist by Facebook so it became impossible to share links to it on the social network. This followed the earlier ban on The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense, another site from the same network that simply switched domain names and has been back in business ever since.
November 9, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Another Blair site ("Freedum Junkshun") gets blocked by Facebook:
Visitors to Freedum Junkshun, one of Chris Blair's (in)famous satirical fake news sites, reportedly can no longer share links from the site on Facebook. We tested it ourselves and were greeted by this message: It is quite strange how a page that doesn't even exist and which returns a 404 error can be considered spam: http://freedumjunkshun.com/thislinkdoesnotexist.
November 3, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
The Last Line of Defense gets a new domain name (nunadisbereel.com) to skirt Facebook's block:
Fake News Site The Last Line Of Defense Resurrected Following Feud With Snopes.com Writer | Lead Stories
Fake/satire website The Resistance: The Last Line Of Defense has announced they are online again in an article titled: "Infamous 'Fake News' Site Resurrected By Russian Trolls". Recently Facebook blocked users from posting links to the site forcing it to adopt a new domain name (nunadisbereel.com).
October 31, 2017, Bethania Palma, Snopes
Blair's apology gets covered by Snopes:
There aren't many apologies given after fake news is posted. Yet, two days after a so-called "satire" site posted a false story smearing the "black soldier" who was killed during a 4 October 2017 ambush in Niger as a "deserter," administrators for the Facebook page that promoted the story apologized and took it down.
October 26/29, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
One of Blair's sites published (and retracted) a hoax claiming an American soldier who died in action was actually a deserter, using his real name and picture.
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Infamous fake/satire website Freedum Junkshun posted an article titled "BREAKING: Black Soldier Killed In Niger Was A Deserter" which opened: Sergeant La David T.
Hoax Alert Recently we criticized an article by fake/satire website Freedum Junkshun titled "BREAKING: Black Soldier Killed In Niger Was A Deserter" for using the real name and real image of a soldier who died in Niger (Sergeant La David T. Johnson) and accusing him of being a deserter without the slightest shred of evidence.
October 6, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair's main site gets blocked by Facebook:
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Facebook has blocked the sharing of links from the infamous satirical fake news website " The Resistance: The Last Line Of Defense" as of a few hours ago.
September 7, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair doubles down on imam/mosque hoaxes after earlier controversy:
Fake News: Georgia Mosque Did NOT Keep Hurricane Harvey Donations, Will NOT Send To Syrian Refugees Instead | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Notorious self-described "liberal troll" Christopher Blair recently caught a lot of flak for inventing a fake story about a mosque and hurricane Harvey aid but that hasn't deterred one of his sites from publishing a new hoax article titled "Georgia Mosque KEEPS Hurricane Harvey Donations, Will Send To Syrian Refugees Instead".
September 5, 2017, Jane Lytvynenko, Buzzfeed News
A hoax on one of Blair's sites used the picture of a real Canadian imam named Ibrahim Hindy in a fake story about a Texas mosque. Blair removed the photo and issued an apology. Buzzfeed was still refering to Blair by his alias "Christopher Lyman" at the time:
The Last Line Of Defense made up all the names in the article, which got over 2,000 likes, shares, and comments on Facebook, according to social tracking tool BuzzSumo. The site is run by Christopher Lyman, also known as Busta Troll, who told BuzzFeed News a writer for the site found the image.
August 31, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Lead Stories is the first fact checker to debunk the fake story about a Texas mosque refusing to help Christian hurricane refugees originating from one of Blair's sites:
The fake satire website The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense publised a hoax article titled "BREAKING: Texas Mosque Refuses To Help Refugees: 'Allah Forbids Helping Infidels'". UPDATE: A second fake article has been added, titled: " Hurricane Victims Storm And Occupy Texas Mosque Who Refused To Help Christians".
June 20, 2017, Maarten Schenk, Lead Stories
Blair sends DMCA takedown notices to several Macedonian fake news websites stealing his articles and gets many of them shut down:
Fake News Apocalypse: How A Liberal Troll Took Down Several Major Fake News Websites Using Copyright Law | Lead Stories
In a delicious twist of irony a famous satirical fake news website manages to take down or seriously hamper dozens of "real" fake news sites using nothing but copyright law.
May 31, 2017, Joshua Gilin, Politifact
The first big article exposing Blair's identity:
If you've seen a fake news story on the Internet, there's a good chance it came from the mind of a 45-year-old Maine man who umpires Little League games. Barack Obama arrested for wiretapping Donald Trump! Clinton Foundation ship caught smuggling refugees! Trey Gowdy's son found dead in a D.C.
March 9, 2017, Craig Silverman & Jane Lytvynenko, Buzzfeed
Buzzfeed writes about Blair, his websites and the Macedonian fake news sites copying his articles without attribution. Initially Blair is misidentified as "Christopher Lyman".
A correction dated March 10, 2017 notes his real name is "Christopher Blair" and adds a note about the difference between a guinea pig and a hamster. However an archived copy at archive.org shows only the "hamster" note was added on March 10, 2017, an archived copy from March 14, 2018 still shows the uncorrected "Lyman" name being used throughout the article. It looks like the name correction was mistakenly added to the earlier correction notice instead of being added to a new one with its own date.
On Mar. 4, a website run by an American who identifies himself as "Busta Troll" published a completely false story claiming the FBI had a warrant for Barack Obama's arrest for illegally wiretapping Donald Trump.
January 27, 2017, Craig Silverman, Buzzfeed
Blair's site America's Last Line of Defense makes its first appearance in this BuzzFeed article investigating a viral fake news story. In it Blair identified himself as "Zeke Wilekenmeyer" to the reporters.
This is what happens when liberal trolls, fake news, and Macedonians collide.
: Added story about Sdopes/ReState and John Prager media appearances
: Added BBC article "The Godfather of Fake News"
: Added Chelsea Clinton tweet
: Added example from Exploiting the Niche
: Added stories from Media Matters, the Hudson Reporter and one more from Lead Stories (on the midterm moratorium).