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A fake news story that claimed House Speaker Paul Ryan announced President Donald Trump’s resignation is actually the brainchild of one of the Internet’s most prolific hoax authors.
The headline on a June 29, 2017, article on StGeorgeGazette.com read, "Paul Ryan: ‘Donald Trump plans to resign from office within the next 30 days’." Facebook users flagged the story as part of the social media site’s efforts to combat fake news.
"Donald Trump plans to step down as President of the United States and resign from office within the next 30 days," the post quoted Ryan. "Amid the fury of scandals with Russia, the growing criticism from world leaders, the numerous problems his administration and cabinet have had, his lack of care for the environment; Republicans and myself believe this is the best thing to happen, and with some persuasion, Trump has also agreed this was for the best."
Now, it’s obvious that Ryan hasn’t announced Trump is resigning. But other clues also show that the story is bogus.
The story also quoted one Paul Horner, which is the name of a big-time writer of fabricated news stories. One of his trademarks is always putting his own name into his stories.
Horner, formerly a writer at fake news site NationalReport.net, is credited with writing stories ranging from Bill Murray running for president to President Barack Obama opening a Muslim museum to Banksy getting arrested. You can read a roundup of some his work at NewsExaminer.net, which also is a fake news site.
Among his often-used calling cards in online stories are the use of the byline Jimmy Rustling, numerous references to "Fappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin" and a plea to donate socks to the homeless.
The footer note posted on the bottom of the website lists a "complaint department" phone number that is actually the number for the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. It’s another Horner staple to use that number: The Ryan article cites the same number as a hotline set up by the White House for people to comment on Trump’s resignation.
There’s otherwise no contact information for the website. We reached out to Horner, who responded to us with a cheeky reply on Facebook, but did not address this particular story.
The story is made up, in any case. We rate it Pants On Fire!
StGeorgeGazette.com, "Paul Ryan: ‘Donald Trump Plans To Resign From Office Within The Next 30 Days’," June 30, 2017
Washington Post, "This is not an interview with Banksy," Oct. 22, 2014
PaulHorner.com, "Statement of Paul Horner," Dec. 13, 2016
NewsExaminer.net, "Paul Horner: Internet News Satirist, Writer, Comedian, Performance Artist, Hoax Artist & Fake News Spokesman," June 28, 2017
Interview with Paul Horner, StGeorgeGazette.com writer, July 2, 2017
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