Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Democrats Did NOT Cave, Did NOT Authorize Full Funding Of Wall To Avoid Shutdown

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 21 Dec 2018 09:35:37 Z)

Did the Democrats cave and authorize full funding of president Donald Trump's border wall project? No, that's not true, the political struggle over the budget is still going on. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to educate gullible Trump supporters and Republicans about the need to actually click and read links before sharing or liking them in order to avoid being embarrassed by fans of the site later. No agreement on border wall funding has been reached yet.

The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on December 21, 2018 titled "BREAKING: Democrats CAVE, Authorize Full Funding Of Wall To Avoid Shutdown" (archived here) which opened:

Democrats love their precious government so much they'll do anything to keep it running. In a last-minute deal to avert the shutdown, Democrats agreed to $20 billion to pay for the "construction of a robust border wall over a period of two years." The wall will span the entirety of the southern United States, including the beaches of Florida to stop those pesky raft Cubans. In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said:

"The border wall will, unfortunately, cut off much of the southern United States' beach access -- particularly in retirement communities around Miami -- but sacrifices must be made to ensure that we are protected from rapists and drug dealers coming from Mexico and Santa Recto.

Screenshot of https://wearethellod.com/breaking-democrats-cave-authorize-full-funding-of-wall-to-avoid-shutdown/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so it would have looked like a news article from a conservative source to many:

BREAKING: Democrats CAVE, Authorize Full Funding Of Wall To Avoid Shutdown

Democrats love their precious government so much they'll do anything to keep it running. In a last-minute deal to avert the shutdown, Democrats agreed to $20 billion to pay for the "con...

However there is no country named "Santa Recto", no budget deal (with or without wall funding) has been reached yet and the article was posted under the category "BREAKING SATIRE". Two links in the story don't actually go to the Department of Homeland Security or an article about rapists and drug dealers as promised but to a petition and an article about the past of Brian Kolfage, the man currently running a GoFundMe campaign to have citizens fund the border wall which has collected over ten million dollars in pledges so far in four days:

Click here to support We The People Will Fund The Wall organized by The Wall Fundraising Team

My name is Brian Kolfage, I have a verified blue check facebook page as a public figure and I'm a Purple Heart Recipient triple amputee veteran. * Please read entire statement before emailing questions * Any questions about this message & Follow me on my facebook or email me at [email protected]

The hoax story isn't the only outlet questioning Kolfage's past:

Founder of viral fundraiser for Trump's border wall has questionable news past

An internet fundraiser for Donald Trump's border wall took in more than $7 million from over 131,000 donors by early Thursday evening. The Florida man behind the GoFundMe page, a triple-amputee Iraq War veteran named Brian Kolfage, spent a large portion of the fundraising campaign's description outlining his past, including a bolded section titled "How do you know this is not a scam?"

The site that posted the hoax article 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.

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. 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.

Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:

'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America

November 17 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.

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

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.

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 wearethellod.com as:

A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

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

We wrote about wearethellod.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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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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