On March 8, a curious rumor began circulating on the internet. Hundreds of Facebook users, most notably those of the Grateful Deadhead persuasion, shared a surprising secret about one of the Bay Area’s most beloved musicians. According to a legitimate-looking news article being circulated among friends, family, and music fans, veteran Grateful Dead guitarist Bobby Weir is currently the highest-paid singer on earth.
The bold headline that blared “Bob Weir Highest-Paid Singer in the World” astonished some, irked others and sent at least one writer on a quest for the truth. Research monkeys were deployed to sniff out online instances of the questionable news article. After determining who or what Mediamass is, a polite amount of delving was done into the personal finances of one Robert Hall “Bobby” Weir.
Not the first time this bogus Bob Weir income rumor was lit up and passed around
Three years ago, members of the Grateful Dead Music Forum posted reactions to a very similar Mediamass piece that lauded Weir as the world’s highest-paid singer in 2013. Comments on the RU Kind bulletin board did not go on for long and mostly consisted of disbelief. One commentator pasted part of the ersatz news piece:
“The American singer-songwriter-guitarist has an estimated net worth of $215 million. He owes his fortune to smart stock investments, substantial property holdings, lucrative endorsement deals with CoverGirl cosmetics. He also owns several restaurants (the “Fat Weir Burger” chain) in Washington, a Football Team (the “San Francisco Angels”), has launched his own brand of Vodka (Pure Wonderweir – US), and is tackling the juniors market with a top-selling perfume (With Love from Bob) and a fashion line called “Bob Weir Seduction.”
Who Mediamass is and why they lied about Bobby
Mediamass promulgates online chaos and confusion, and they do so deliberately. Although each article includes an “update” that says, “This story seems to be false,” bogus announcements are typically shared on social media thousands, if not millions of times. By the time readers figure out the news they’ve passed along is not accurate, the fake news site has generated plenty of ad revenue. The rumor is already out there, and, as everyone should know by now what goes on the internet stays on the internet.
Deadheads are by no means the only ones to be hoodwinked into believing falsehoods espoused by Mediamass. Because the online tabloid is not as well-known for bogus news as The Onion, even seasoned reporters at International Business Times, The Guardian, and Huffington Post have been bamboozled, according to The Daily Dot. Mediamass lies about everyone, and they use cookie cutter templates to do so. That’s right. The ridiculously successful fake news company cranks out countless stories that are identical save for the celebrity’s name.
Skeptical readers are invited to try an easy techno-trick for themselves. Visit the Mediamass article that touts Bob Weir as the highest-paid singer on the planet. Take a look at the page URL and find Weir’s name. Replace “bob-weir” with the name of virtually any celebrity you can imagine. Type the name without caps and put a hyphen between proper names. Hit the Enter key. Voila! You arrive at an identical article that makes precisely the same outlandish claims as the piece about Bobby’s erroneous income.
Mediamass isn’t lying about lying
Mediamass.net makes no outright claim to be a reliable news outlet. In fact, the company flat out admits to being a fake news site. Mediamass goes so far as to tell readers in bright red italics that they are a satire site that publishes humorous parodies that are “obviously not true.” The following is taken directly from the Mediamass website:
“Mediamass.net is the medium of our satire to expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe. Also it will not only mock the producers (mainstream media, journalists) as it is common when questioning and criticizing mass media, but also the consumers as one cannot exist without the other. Sensationalism, lack of verification of information, ethics and standards issues are only symptoms of the actual social and economic order. This is particularly obvious when observing the role of social networking sites in spreading rumours.”
If the Queen’s English spelling makes you think the satire news site is based in the U.K., think again. James Cook at KernelMag did some digging and determined that the spurious stories spouted by Mediamass originate in China. Run by an apparent international collective, Mediamass posts in numerous languages, including English, French, and Mandarin Chinese.
A word about Weir’s wherewithal
Is his personal income anyone’s business but Bob’s? Probably not, but in the interest of disproving the ridiculous rumor that’s making the rounds, CelebrityNetWorth was consulted. By applying a proprietary algorithm to all available public resources, CNW determined Bob Weir’s net worth to be around $30 million. In 2015, the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary “Fare The Well” shows raked in an estimate $55 million, all of which was split between Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzman, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Trey Anastasio, Jeff Chimenti, and Bruce Hornsby as well as an astronomical number of stage hands, road crew, security, and the like. In contrast, Taylor Swift earned a reputed $170 million in 2016 which makes the former American Idol contestant the highest-paid singer in the world, according to Forbes magazine.
The real truth about Bobby
For accurate and timely blurbs regarding Bob Weir, follow his verified Twitter account. Followers are not likely to see the man reveal his earnings in fewer than 140 characters, but it’s a far more feasible place to learn about Mr. Weir’s goings-on than any fake news media site like Mediamass.
[Featured Image by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP Images]