News & Politics

Snopes Plays Satire Police, Slams Babylon Bee for Joke About Erica Thomas and Chick-fil-A

Screenshot of hilarious Babylon Bee story marked as "Fake News" by Snopes.

Over the weekend, Democrat Georgia State Rep. Erica Thomas caused a stir by claiming a “white man” yelled at her, telling her to “go back” to where she came from. Yet the man she accused, a Cuban Democrat, told her no such thing, and she eventually admitted that. In fact, an eyewitness told police that Thomas herself repeatedly told him to “go back where you came from.” As it turns out, Thomas was the aggressor and the poor Cuban Democrat was demonized because he had the gall to tell her not to take 20 items in the 10-item express lane at Publix.

Sounds like excellent material for satire, right? Especially in an era where liberal media outlets  like The New York Times rush to embrace any suggestion that Trump’s America is a hotbed of hatred and racism. The magnificent satire site The Babylon Bee decided to bite, and gave it a hilarious twist.

“Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure,'” the satire headline ran. The story is hilarious. Here’s a sample:

“This is what’s happening in Trump’s America,” the post concluded.

Thousands of online users shared and commented on the post, showing their support for Thomas and their rage at the racist attack.

Chick-fil-A immediately investigated the claim, and security footage revealed the employee, who is of Chinese descent, said nothing even remotely close to the alleged comments.

In light of the information, Thomas walked back her claim a bit. “He definitely said something to me. I initially thought it was the ‘go back to your country’ thing, but now that I think about it, it may have been ‘my pleasure.'”

The Babylon Bee ran this story on Monday, before the police report — in which an eyewitness said Thomas herself made the “go back” remarks — and before the Publix video was released. The Babylon Bee story is even more hilarious after these additional facts became known.

Yet some liberal “fact-checkers” weren’t having it. Snopes went full Social Justice Warrior by condemning the post as somehow less than satire.

“We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire,'” Snopes’ Dan Evon wrote.

Apparently blind to the humor and the fact that The Babylon Bee identifies itself as “fake news” and satire, Snopes decided to fact-check the article, rating it “false.” Um… yes. And your point is?

The point is, mocking a lying liberal is offensive. Snopes briefly summarized the Erica Thomas story, leaving out Thomas’s own admission that the “white man” never told her to “go back.” Then, of course, Snopes minimized the very understandable outrage as “online anger.”

“While this real-world incident stirred up a good amount of online anger, it wasn’t quite outrageous enough for the entertainment website Babylon Bee. In an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation, this website published a fictionalized version of the story, changing the location to Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food restaurant known for its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage,” Evon wrote.

“This particular story was especially confusing for some readers, however, as it closely mirrored the events of a genuine news story, with the exception of the website’s changing the location from ‘Publix’ to the more controversial Chick-Fil-A,” Evon added. He then suggested that “the line between fact and fiction here is a bit blurry.” No, it isn’t — The Babylon Bee is satire. Even if a few gullible people post it online as if it’s true, that doesn’t mean it needs to be “fact-checked.”

Furthermore, does The Onion merit fact-checks like this when it crafts satirical “American Voices” on real news stories? Stories like “Boris Johnson To Be Next U.K. Prime Minister” mix factual stories with fictitious satirical comments. Wouldn’t that make “the line between fact and fiction” a “bit blurry?”

To be fair, Snopes has “fact-checked” stories from The Onion, but it has never gone so far as to suggest that an Onion story does not rise to the level of satire because it mocked a lying liberal. Snopes did not play the satire police when The Onion mocked Meghan McCain right after she learned about her father’s terminal illness, something many Americans would consider beyond the pale. No, The Onion has gone soft on Hillary Clinton, so perhaps Snopes should go easy on it.

Instead, Snopes attacks The Babylon Bee for mocking a state politician who admitted that she was lying, after outlets like The New York Times gobbled up her outrage story. Snopes also hid critical information from its audience. By the time its “fact-check” of The Babylon Bee went live, not only had Thomas admitted that the Cuban Democrat had never told her to “go back,” but the police report had also been published, revealing that Thomas herself had yelled that at him.

Furthermore, Chick-fil-A has become the third-largest restaurant in America. It also opened on Sunday (unheard of for the Christian company) to serve people who gave blood to help the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. Those who accuse Chick-fil-A of somehow being anti-LGBT seem never to address this point.

The Chick-fil-A angle makes the Babylon Bee story that much more hilarious — because Chick-fil-A employees are known for their excellent customer service and the tagline, “My pleasure.”

Snopes isn’t fact-checking. It’s carrying water for a liberal who concocted a false story to smear America as racist.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.