A satirical story that said every American who voted for Donald Trump works for the Russian government appeared to have started as a parody on a neo-Nazi website.
"FBI uncovers evidence that 62 million Trump voters are all Russian agents!" read the headline on a May 15, 2017, post on USPoliticsInfo.com. The post was flagged by Facebook users as possibly being fake, as part of the social media site’s efforts to crack down on fake news.
The story is full of absurd details that make it obvious it’s a joke. It said that anonymous FBI sources had revealed the 62 million voters were employed by Russian intelligence (Trump garnered more than 62.9 million votes in the presidential election, almost 2.9 million less than Hillary Clinton).
The story also said Wikileaks was run by Vladimir Putin and conservative media personality Alex Jones’ real name was Alexi Jonesov. An unnamed FBI agent further said in the article that "it is highly possible that the Russians used a space-beam from a satellite to control their brains from a facility in St. Petersburg, and moved their bodies like puppets to the polls to check the Trump box" during the election.
Most of the time, these fake news sites share the story without any attribution at all. But after some digging, we found that the original fake post came from the white supremacist website DailyStormer.com.
Dated March 28, 2017, the article carries the fake New York Times byline Yuri Rosenbaum. It falsely cited several real officials like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The story also said Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., called for mass arrests and said Trump himself "began screaming in Russian and jumped in a big truck and drove off down the road" when asked about the allegations.
We confirmed with DailyStormer.com publisher Andrew Anglin that his site, which occasionally posts satirical stories, was the source of the article. He said it should be obvious the story is not real, no matter where or in what form it appeared.
"My readership — and I hope to God the rest of the literate world — is intelligent enough to understand this is a joke," he said via email. "I didn't know people were syndicating it without crediting me, but I don't really care."
This fake news story is ludicrous enough that it’s obviously contrived and meant as a joke. Not so obvious are the article’s white supremacist website roots.
We rate the statement Pants On Fire!