Seth Dillon, the CEO of the satirical website The Babylon Bee, came out swinging against Snopes, calling the fact-checking website “dishonest” and “malicious” in a new interview with Breitbart News.
The argument arose after Snopes recently started listing numerous Babylon Bee stories as false, despite the fact that the website’s articles are entirely satire. The two have a history of conflict after The Babylon Bee was almost demonetized from Facebook in early 2018 after Snopes, which was then in a partnership with the social media giant, rated one of their stories as false. The story was about how CNN used industrial washing machines to spin its news.
Claiming a story as false has serious consequences. RealClear Fact Check Review found that stories that were listed as false lost as much as 80 percent of their Facebook audience, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Though Snopes has since ended its partnership with Facebook, many defenders of the satirical website worry that rating a story as false could still have consequences for its viral-ability.
Since then, Snopes has continued to rate several Bee stories as false, including articles with headlines such as “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 stories are still currently rated as false.
“It’s dishonest and it seems malicious,” said Seth Dillon, the CEO of the satirical website. “Everyone knows we’re satire.”
“Some people on the left have decided they don’t like us. So it would seem they want to discredit us.”
However, Snopes is hitting back at allegations that it is unfairly targeting The Babylon Bee.
“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 Snopes CEO and publisher David Mikkelson. He did not give any examples for which articles he thought were confusing for readers.
However, one possible example that Mikkelson might have been thinking of was a recent article by the Bee titled “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.'”
The article was a satirical take on a recent controversy involving Georgia lawmaker Erica Thomas. Thomas claimed that a customer at a Publix grocery store told her to “Go back where you came from.” However, when the customer — a liberal Latino immigrant as well as a Publix employee — claimed that Thomas was lying, Thomas ended up walking back her allegations.
However, Snopes originally not only listed the article as “False,” but also claimed that the Bee “altered some key details” of the altercation, giving the impression that it was a real news story. It has since been updated.
“The article that people were focusing on was not worded very well. That’s our bad. We need to own that,” Mikkelson acknowledged the blunder, per The New York Times.
Snope’s false ratings are so “misleading,” per Dillon, that even CNN journalist Brian Stelter called the Bee a “fake news site,” before deleting the tweet.
In light of recent events, The Babylon Bee has claimed that it was acquired legal counsel, though there are no reports yet of any specific actions taken.