Since its founding in 2016, Christian satire site The Babylon Bee has been regularly making fun of Christians, the left, the right, Trump, and various cultural fads. The site has steadily grown in popularity and now boasts about 10 million monthly page views. In addition to making poignant jokes, Kyle Mann, the site's editor in chief, aims to use satire as a weapon to separate truth from fiction.
But less than five months after its inception, The Babylon Bee found itself being labeled as a "fake news site" by the prominent online fact-checker Snopes. Satirical articles from The Bee have now been fact-checked by Snopes more than 30 times.
Some of the more outlandish fact-checks include headlines such as "Democrats Demand Kavanaugh Submit To DNA Test To Prove He's Not Actually Hitler," "Ocasio-Cortez Appears On 'The Price Is Right,' Guesses Everything Is Free," and "CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication."
In an effort to justify fact-checking satire, Snopes republished an article from the academic commentary and analysis site The Conversation arguing that "too many people think satirical news is real." While he's not inherently opposed to fact-checking satire, Kyle Mann says that the original study was meant to observe the effects of satire in general, but when tweeting out their link of the study, Snopes specifically targeted The Babylon Bee.
What's more, the study's methodology was questionable: Instead of showing participants articles as they appeared online, satirical headlines were stripped of both context and comedy. For example, the Babylon Bee headline "CNN: 'God Allowed the Mueller Report to Test Our Shakeable Faith in Collusion.'" was presented to participants as "CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper said his belief that Trump colluded with Russia is unshakable; it will not change regardless of statements or evidence to the contrary."
Reason's John Osterhoudt sat down with Mann to discuss the Snopes criticism, his aspirations for the Bee, and why he believes that satire can divide what's important from what's not, revealing important truths about the world.
Produced by John Osterhoudt
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