James McDaniel admits that the political website he started was only for fake news, but says he had a bigger goal in mind — to see just how ridiculous of a story he could peddle to Donald Trump supporters before they didn’t believe it.
As he found, they will believe just about anything that paints Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in a bad light.
The American living in Costa Rica started the site Underground News Report for the purpose of posting ridiculous stories blasting Barack Obama. The site went viral pretty quickly, getting more than 1 million views in just about a week despite posting only made-up news intended to make Democrats look bad.
In one story, he claimed that Obama tweeted the ominous threat “Trump must be removed as president by any means necessary,” which readers took quite seriously.
Even though the story could have been easily debunked by checking Obama’s Twitter page — or simply running a Google search to see if any other outlets were reporting on what would have been an unprecedented political threat — readers took it as gospel.
The Independent ran down the reactions from readers, who called out those who questioned the story’s veracity.
“They believed that Obama had tweeted ‘Trump must be removed as president by any means necessary,’ and when one commenter, ‘Truthseeker’, dared suggest the story ‘Obama ran paedophile ring out of White House’ might possibly be fake, he was told: ‘Really “Truthseeker’ if you had ANY clue of the truth, you’d KNOW that Wikileaks hasn’t published ONE thing that has been false. So please use your own mind. Stop listening to MSM [mainstream media] and realize what the TRUTH really is.’ “
McDaniel pushed the envelope even further for his fake news website, posting a story claiming that Barack Obama was actually running a pedophile ring out of the White House with the help of Hillary Clinton. He pointed to a fabricated email he claimed was revealed by WikiLeaks in which Clinton urged Obama to keep the child abuse to “the pizza arrangement,” a reference to the conspiracy theory that Clinton was part of a child sex ring hidden at a popular Washington, D.C., pizzeria.
It even came complete with fake quotes from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“The evidence is there. Hillary and Obama are done for. Now we are just waiting for President Trump to take action,” the site quoted him.
“People often don’t want to believe the news because it’s unpleasant. But facts are facts,” the quote added, ironically.
The site Underground News Report comes amidst a growing controversy over the idea of “fake news.” During the 2016 election cycle, a number of websites popped up that traded entirely in fabricated news mostly aimed at spreading fake rumors about Hillary Clinton and Democrats.
The issue that started with clearly fabricated stories has since become muddled as opponents picked up on the term “fake news” and applied it to stories that held a bias or even true stories with which they disagreed. Even Donald Trump has taken a liking to the phrase, using it to describe news outlets critical of him.
— CNN Lies & Is Hitler (@NolteNC) March 11, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) March 11, 2017
But the fake news eventually went too far even for McDaniel. He brought an end to the experiment after readers were sent into a rage after a fake story claiming that Whoopi Goldberg mocked Carryn Owens, the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in the first military operation approved by Donald Trump.
It was then that McDaniel blew his cover, admitting that the fake news site was a test in what Donald Trump supporters would believe.
“Just for fun, I decided to post some of the stories in Trump fan groups on Facebook to see the reactions,” he wrote.
“To my surprise, the Trump masses embraced my stories as fact, almost universally. It seemed that there wasn’t anything I could write that was too wild or outrageous to be believed by this particular audience.”
And McDaniel noted that the gullibility of Donald Trump supporters easily turned to racist hatred depending on the story.
“If I wrote about CNN being fake news and connected to ISIS, readers would agree wholeheartedly with my fabricated article. If I wrote about a black liberal or Obama supposedly saying something controversial, the response was unbridled racism and hatred. When I wrote about Hillary Clinton’s new emails that proved she was a child sacrificing maniac, people screamed for her head.”
Even though Underground News Report gained close to 1 million views in just a short time based on the gullibility of Donald Trump supporters, McDaniel said he only made a little over $600 from ad revenue. He intends to donate the money to Democrats, he said.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]