The owner of the Christian satirical site The Babylon Bee has come out swinging against Snopes, saying in an interview with Breitbart News that the fact-checking site is “misleading people to get people to believe we’re misleading people.”
Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon told Breitbart News that Snopes has continued to “fact-check” his site even though Snopes has indicated in private communication that it knows the Babylon Bee is satirical.
“They’re misleading people to get people to believe we’re misleading people,” said Dillon.
The left-leaning Snopes has repeatedly attacked the Bee by fact-checking its humorous articles and labeling them as “False.”
“It’s dishonest and it seems malicious,” said Dillon. “Everyone knows we’re satire.”
He said Snopes has said in private communication that it knows there’s a clear distinction between the Bee and fake news.
“Leadership hasn’t figured out how to handle satire. But publicly they go out and attack us,” said Dillon. The Bee said in a release last week that it has retained legal counsel over the dispute.
“They are dialoguing with our legal counsel,” Dillon added. “They assured us in all fairness that they are revamping the way they are handling humor and satire. I hope that it’s true and it can’t come soon enough.”
Snopes confirmed via email that it is changing the way it rates humorous articles.
“We are working on what we hope will be a better system for identifying humor and satire in a way that distinguishes them from other types of material,” Snopes CEO and publisher David Mikkelson said.
But Snopes still claims that many readers are unable to discern the Bee’s satirical tone in headlines like “Ocasio-Cortez Appears On ‘The Price Is Right,’ Guesses Everything Is Free” and “Jussie Smollett Offered Job At CNN After Fabricating News Story Out Of Thin Air” — both of which were hit with “False” ratings by Snopes.
“Something about the Babylon Bee’s material — whether it’s the subject matter, or the style, or the presentation, or its distribution, or something else — is not resonating for many people and is leaving them confused,” said Mikkelson, who didn’t provide examples of the alleged reader confusion.
Snopes isn’t the only outlet to attack the Bee. CNN’s Brian Stelter called the Bee a “fake news site” on Twitter before deleting the tweet.
“Some people on the left have decided they don’t like us,” said the Bee’s Dillon. “So it would seem they want to discredit us.”
The Babylon Bee was created in 2016 by Adam Ford as a kind of conservative answer to The Onion, and Dillon acquired it last year. Based in Florida, the site runs satirical pieces on Christian culture and woke identity politics, and features ad-supported and subscription content.
Until recently, Snopes was an official fact-checking partner with Facebook, monitoring the social media site for fakes news. During that period, it labeled numerous Bee articles as “False,” which has adversely impacted the Bee’s ability to promote and monetize its content.
Facebook sent a message to the Bee last year threatening to reduce the Bee’s distribution based on a Snopes fact check of an article with the headline “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine to Spin News Before Publication.”
Facebook’s message said that “repeat offenders will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertised removed.” The social media giant later admitted that the article was satirical.
Really, Facebook?? pic.twitter.com/HEtBc7C0Gz
— Adam Ford (@Adam4d) March 2, 2018
On Friday, Buzzfeed ran an article in which it called Facebook’s attempt to penalize the Bee a “conspiracy theory.” The far-left news site later corrected its article to remove the accusation.
Snopes ended its fact-checking relationship with Facebook in February. But the Bee said many big tech companies still look to Snopes for guidance, which could spell financial trouble for the site since it relies on social media and Google for traffic.
“These tech comps look to them as an authoritative source,” said Dillon.
Snopes has also fact-checked articles from The Onion — which is left-leaning and frequently satirizes President Donald Trump — but it hasn’t done so since last year. By contrast, it has fact-checked the Bee at least six times this year.
In July, Snopes slapped a “False” rating on the Bee’s comic take on Democratic Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas, who claimed last month that a customer at a Publix grocery store told her to “Go back where you came from!”
Her racially-charged claim was later refuted by the man whom she accused as well as by a Publix employee.
The Bee ran an article shortly after the incident with the headline: “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.’”
Snopes labeled the article “False,” claiming the Bee “altered some key details” of the incident. After the Bee appealed, Snopes corrected its fact-check but it still reads that the Bee “has managed to confuse readers with its brand of satire in the past.”
Dillon said he is still pressing Snopes to change the wording. “It implies there was intent there. It’s the intent that we’re addressing,” he said.
One way the Bee has fought back against Snopes is by poking fun of Snopes itself.
A recent headline read, “Snopes Issues Pre-Approval Of All Statements Made During Tonight’s Democratic Debate.” Another article joked, “Snopes Publishes Helpful Fact Check On 1996 Basketball Documentary ‘Space Jam’.”