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

Fake News: Actor Gary Sinise NOT Dead At 67

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:11:20 Z)

Did actor Gary Sinise die aged 67? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to fool Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators (or a liberal from Maine) via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.

The story originated from an article published by Conservative Tears] on August 2, 2019 titled "Veteran's Activist & Actor, Gary Sinise Dies At 67" (archived here) which opened:

Actor, stalwart patriot, and champion of veteran's right, Gary Sinise died today of complications resulting from consumption of contaminants. The exact source of said contamination has not been definitively determined but the LA Medical Examiner's office was able to say that they were commonly found in shoe leather. How it is that Sinise would come to consume this is unknown but, according to police sources, foul play has not been ruled out.

Screenshot of https://conservativetears.com/2019/08/02/veterans-activist-actor-gary-sinise-dies-at-67/

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

Veteran's Activist & Actor, Gary Sinise Dies At 67

Actor, stalwart patriot, and champion of veteran's right, Gary Sinise died today of complications resulting from consumption of contaminants. The exact source of said contamination has not be...

The website that posted the "news" literally says "DEATH HOAXES FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS" in the header and the Sinise story was published under a category named "Death Hoax". It also gets his year of birth wrong, which is 1955 and not 1956 as the image in the story suggests.

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

A hoax website that publishes false stories about celebrity deaths.

Read their full assessment here.

The hoax story also pretended Sinise was an ardent Trump supporter:

To the end, Gary Sinise pledged undying loyalty to President Trump and donated millions of dollars to both his initial election campaign and his bid for reelection.

Sinise has publicly criticized President Trump for his statements about John McCain:

Conservative Tears is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.

Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):

About Satire
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":

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.

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.

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.

Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:

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.

We wrote about conservativetears.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

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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