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Hoax Alert

Fake News: NO Body In Ohio River Confirmed As Major Clinton Aide

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sun, 10 Feb 2019 23:15:35 Z)

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Was a body found in the Ohio river in Saint Clairsville, Ohio confirmed to be Clinton aide Jaeger Holpern? No, that's not true. 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. All the events described in the article are not real.

The story originated from an article published by America's Last Line of Defense on February 10, 2019 titled "UPDATE: Body In Ohio River Confirmed As Major Clinton Aide" (archived here) which opened:

On Tuesday, police in Saint Clairsville, Ohio announced some troubling news to the small town: a dead body had washed ashore on the Ohio River. Authorities told residents not to worry, that the body had probably drifted there from somewhere hundreds of miles away based on the amount of damage -- and they were right.

An investigation concluded on Saturday that the corpse was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the inhumed remains of Jaeger Holpern, aide to Hillary Clinton for more than a decade -- including in the 2012 and 2016 elections. He also worked as a bodyguard for Chelsea Clinton from 2017-November 2018.

Holpern recently provided evidence to Judicial Watch regarding the Clinton email scandal, according to a press release from the transparency organization.

Screenshot of https://wearethellod.com/jaeger-holpern-is-also-an-anagram/

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

UPDATE: Body In Ohio River Confirmed As Major Clinton Aide

On Tuesday, police in Saint Clairsville, Ohio announced some troubling news to the small town: a dead body had washed ashore on the Ohio River. Authorities told residents not to worry, that the bod...

Eagle-eyed readers probably noticed that the television screenshot illustrating the article was actually from Pittsburgh:

OHIO RIVER BODY: Body identified as man who walked away from hospital

MCKEES ROCKS, Pa. - A body found in the Ohio River has been identified as a man who walked away from Allegheny General Hospital. RELATED: Police searching for man who walked out of hospital The family of Raymond Devries, 71, confirmed to Channel 11 that his body was found in the river.

But there are several other hints the story is false. First of all, the Ohio river does not flow through Saint Clairsville. The nearest place where it passes by would seem to be Wheeling:

stclairsvillewheeling.jpg

A second hint is hidden in the URL of the story: https://wearethellod.com/jaeger-holpern-is-also-an-anagram/

Jaeger Holpern is indeed an anagram for John Lee Prager, one of the writers behind the site:

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.

Prager happens to live in Wheeling, West Virginia.

The term "inhumed remains" is also a dead giveaway: it means burried remains, something typically not true of a corpse floating in a river.

If those aren't enough hints, the story was published under the category "Clinton Satire For Chelsea to Tweet About" and the header of the site has the warning "Information you probably shouldn't trust".

The site also 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.
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.

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:

Updates:

: Corrected location of Wheeling: it is in West Virginia, not Ohio.

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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

About Lead Stories

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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