The Volokh Conspiracy

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Miami Herald: "DeSantis Calls Out 'Fake News,' But His Campaign Used Fake News Site to Raise Cash"


That's the Miami Herald headline; the body says:

In messages to supporters, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't shy about labeling "fake news media" the enemy.

But when it comes to raising money for his reelection bid, the Republican governor's campaign and an associated political committee have sought help from a satire website with the tagline "Fake news you can trust."

The governor's campaign committee as well as the associated Friends of Ron DeSantis political action committee paid the conservative-leaning satire website The Babylon Bee a combined $15,000 last year for services related to online fundraising [apparently focused on renting donor or subscriber lists -EV], according to state campaign finance records.

Does it really make sense to call a satire site a "fake news site," and suggest that there's something inconsistent in condemning fake news but working with satire sites?

Or is it a joke that I'm missing? I must admit that I sometimes set up headlines as gags—for instance, though I can't find the post, I vaguely remember that at one point in 2003 or thereabouts a state judge with the last name O'Connor retired, and I posted a headline "Judge O'Connor Retires" with the main body of the article offering the explanation. But I assume the Herald article is supposed to be serious.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

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  1. I despise DeSantis but that's no excuse for this sort of intellectual dishonesty: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster." Attacking satire as fake news is to diminish the very idea that fake news is a serious problem. It is, and shouldn't be a phrase that gets tossed around at any media outlet one dislikes politically.

    1. "He who fights with monsters" [etc.]

      Actual photo of DeSantis:

      1. All media are the David Duke hate speech, propaganda web site save for C-SPAN. David Duke is the head of the KKK. He hates Jews and blacks. He publishes only articles that make them look bad, in pursuit of his hate agenda. He is not a journalist.

        Journalists have a Code of Ethics and are a profession. They are obligated to present both sides of a story. They all highly select their articles for their political agendas. They have no professionalism and no credibility. I hear about a reporter getting blasted in an awful country. It sounds terrible. But would not regret hearing that about some of ours. They are all David Duke, and worthless.

    2. When you stare into the abyss, sometimes you find yourself Governor of Florida.

      1. You have no idea how great life is in West Florida. Everything works, including government. There is virtually no crime, even in poor areas.

  2. Conservative arguments are whatever leftoids want it to be at a given moment. Its the same logic behind Jan 6th being the worst assault on democracy in history while all the riots they like are 'mostly peaceful protests'. And a bill that puts a few mild checks on schools describing two men cornholing each other to kindergartners being the worst assault on free speech in history which they suddenly care about for some reason despite having constantly downplayed the importance of free speech for years.

    1. Conservative arguments are "we don't like leftists" (where "leftists" means "anybody we don't like") There's no way to make Conservatives abandon their interests that works faster than having a Demomcrat come out in favor of the same thing.

      Remember that time a Democrat President asked Congress for authority to deport more illegal immigrants? the Republicans in Congress didn't even bother to schedule a hearing to discuss the request. That's how firmly they stick to principles. The principle being "If a Democrat is for it, we're all against it."

  3. “Does it really make sense to call a satire site a fake news site?”

    No. It makes no sense whatsoever. The Herald is being intentionally dishonest in the headline. The media wonders why their credibility is so low while doing crap like this.

    1. It's DeSantis calling it fake news, looks like.

      Which I think is a pretty legit joke.
      Not exactly funny, but riffing off of your own overuse of fake news is at least in the shape of a joke, even if it is not actually self deprecating.

      1. Nope, misread - it's the website itself doing that. Well, that's a better joke then.

        1. Only the stupidest among the stupid take stuff from the Bee or the Onion as factually accurate. Perhaps the staff at the Herald fall in that group?

          Otherwise they’re simply being disingenuous.

  4. There have been quite a few newspapers, magazines, TV stations, and web sites mistaking The Onion and Babylon Bee as "serious" news sites, ergo fake news, and getting outed and laughed at for it. I saw this elsewhere and assumed it was the same, although a bit odd that they admit that it is a satire site. But the current crop of journalists have not distinguished themselves as far as truth or common sense goes.

    1. the current crop of journalists have not distinguished themselves as far as truth or common sense goes.

      But they're all super-woke!

      1. Until they admit that there was a massive conspiracy to steal the 2020 election (No, not that one, the one that worked!) they will continue to be rejected by people who only want to see the news they like see light of day.

    2. Norm MacDonald used to introduce his SNL Weekend Update as now here's the fake news.

      Of course, as Family Guy once said, "We live in a post-joke world."

      You are expected to be an automaton, a robot running around reacting in offended ways with no sentient processing of subtlety.

      (And all so a handful of pols can get elected and their spouses mysteriously become investment geniuses.)

      This is the early stage of borgification. The borg kill drones where it doesn't "take".

      1. "(And all so a handful of pols can get elected and their spouses mysteriously become investment geniuses.)"

        Appointed is OK. Elections are now optional.

  5. Instapundit was recently used to push a #fakenews by the Federalist. The Federalist linked to him and characterized him as a member of the mainstream media that promoted RussiaGate/SpyGate in order to push a phony narrative.

    1. The word “article” links to a Reynolds opinion piece:

      Two days later, though, the media took Mook’s lead and converted the Clinton server scandal into a scandal about Trump. A July 26, 2016, opinion article for USA Today, titled “Putin for President 2016,” opened with an acknowledgment that Clinton’s “secret private-server emails are almost certainly already in the hands of Russian intelligence,” and concluded, “Putin can embarrass Hillary — or worse — whenever he wants.”

      “We’re getting a small foretaste of that in the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails,” the piece continued, speaking of the DNC officials engaged in “dirty tricks aimed at Bernie Sanders” and “getting awfully chummy with some allegedly professional journalists.” And with that, the media converted Clinton’s use of a private server to a story about Trump and Russia’s supposed backing of his candidacy.

      1. That got linked to Trump because he went on TV and asked for help from the Russian hackers.

        1. He joked about it, and the joke was pointed enough that Democrats had to divert it with a stupid talking point all their subservient media outlets ran with.

          He asked them to hand over emails that had been on a server already taken offline and wiped, that she had illegally failed to turn over on leaving her position. To late to hack it, the only way they could have done it is if they'd archived the contents while it was still online.

          The point of the joke is that they probably had...

          1. He joked about it,

            Nope. Nobody thought it was a joke, including Trump.

            1. Some people find it difficult or impossible to read other people. An awkward misfit might have mistaken Trump's statement for a joke.

            2. Nope. Nobody thought it was a joke, including Trump.

              As pointed out, the server was no longer even a "server" in that it was not online, or even accessible outside of the FBI lab it was being kept in. Trump knew this, as did those who accused him of "inviting" the Russians to "hack an e-mail server" that didn't even exist.

              1. How dare you question DN's powers of telepathy?!

        2. It was so much as a joke as it was sarcastically pointing out the extreme seriousness of the intentional security lapse that hillary facilitated.

  6. Of course the Miami Herald knows that the Babylon Bee is a satire site. The problem from their perspective is that it doesn't just poke fun at conservatives, it pokes fun at the left, too, and pretty effectively.

    That rendered it an enemy, and there is now a continuing effort to shut them down as a purveyor of "fake news", pretending that they're lying rather than satirizing.

    1. Snopes also "fact checked" them. Twitter has banned them because they pointed out that Lia Thomas is male.

      So yea but "both sides". Ha

      1. Yes, I think its satire is typically, though not exclusively, aimed at lefty targets, so its sympathies are plainly to the right.

        It also has a sister* site, helpfully called "Not The Bee" which offers "news" rather than satire - and that definitely leans right.

        *how do we render "sister" in woke ? Applied to actual sisters, presumably we follow the sibling's preferred pronouns to its appropriate gender. But brother and sister are also used in metaphorical non-sexed senses (as in The Bee's sister site) - where are we supposed to go with that ?

        1. Eh, I wouldn't claim it's 50-50, but to be fair, it's a pretty target rich environment on the left. But no sensible person would fail to realize that it's a satire site.

          1. Not only that the target space for satire aimed at conservatives is pretty saturated, so it makes sense to aim your satire at progressives because that market place is underserved.

        2. " It also has a sister* site, helpfully called "Not The Bee" which offers "news" rather than satire - and that definitely leans right. "

          If this is true -- I have no reason to doubt it but have not checked -- it suggests the DeSantis campaign might have paid for the services of a fake news site.

          I would not expect Prof. Volokh to mention this detail, which could dilute the clinger outrage he was expressing and trying to cultivate among his fans.

  7. This view of satire shows what happens when government schools focus on gender studies instead of English literature.

    1. You didn't graduate from your government school, did you? Did you even show up?

      My kid had 4 years of English in high school, and approximately 0 trimesters of gender studies.

  8. The Bee doesn't pretend to be anything but fake news. CNN pretends to be real news. See the difference?

    1. Another difference: I'm pretty sure that:
      - Babylon Bee has never called for anyone to be "shut down."
      - CNN has.

  9. EV the only joke you're missing is the Miami Herald calling itself a journalistic organization rather than a PR firm for Disney, the DNC and the CCP.

  10. The Babylon Bee's association with Elon Musk, the Bee's incident with Twitter, and Elon Musk's new association with Twitter probably have something to do with the Herald's treatment of the Bee: there are some huge power shifts taking place and the Herald's fear is understandable. The New York Times, similarly fearful, today resorts to criticism of the growth of Christianity in America. WaPo's fear is a bit more constrained, albeit a bit more confused [eg: earlier today, an admission that sanctions aren't working was misleadingly coupled with a DOJ press release touting an indictment related to a sanctions-violation incident in 2014, said many-year-old sanctions-violation incident itself paralleling an incident involving the President's son. So, obviously, the coupling previously believed Democrat-positive has since been deemed Democrat-negative on two counts and has therefore been quashed (by a paper which once touted Hitler as a "bringer of peace").]

    All three of these legacy media outlets have been wrong about so much it's difficult to keep up!

    "FULL INTERVIEW: Elon Musk Sits Down With The Babylon Bee" (at )

    1. What growth of Christianity in America?

      Some of the clingers are blending superstition with wingnuttery -- and bad ideas die hard in our emptying, can't-keep-up backwaters -- but in general America is moving toward reason at the expense of organized religion at a handy pace.

      If by "power shift" you contend that conservatives are diminishing (let alone stopping, or reversing) the tide of the American culture war, that seems a silly assertion.

  11. It's pretty obvious there is a campaign, probably not organized but intentional to label the Babylon Bee as disinformation or fake news. The reason why is to get it banned from Facebook and Twitter.

    If you doubt that here is an actual fact check by Snopes of the Babylon Bee:
    CNN invested in an industrial-sized washing machine to help their journalists and news anchors spin the news before publication."

    RealClearPolitics covered the fallout:
    "In a particularly notable example, Snopes took up the Bee’s obviously absurd claim that CNN had purchased industrial washing machines to launder the news. The consequences of fact-checking can be grave. In previous coverage, RealClear Fact Check Review reported that pieces deemed false by fact-checking outfits stand to lose as much of 80% of their Facebook audience. This is because the social media giant uses such verdicts to justify reducing the distribution of pieces deemed false. It hardly seems just to treat an openly satirical story with the same censorious hand as misleading or outright untruthful journalism. And, in fact, Facebook apologized to the Bee for its threat of censorship that resulted from the initial Snopes story."

  12. Donald Trump popularized 'fake news', so it's his definition we ought to go by.

    Is it negative? Then it's fake news.

    Satire is usually negative, therefore it's fake news.

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