A fake news story that said country singer Jason Aldean had a concert canceled after making an anti-gun statement following his Saturday Night Live performance is the work of a website that appears to be part of a troll network.
"Jason Aldean gig canceled after he sells out to liberals on SNL," read the Oct. 8, 2017, headline on AsAmericanAsApplePie.org.
Facebook users flagged the content as possibly being fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news stories. At least part of the story showed up in a couple of other posts also questioned by Facebook users.
Aldean was performing onstage at a Las Vegas country music festival on Oct. 1 when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from a hotel room, killing 58 and injuring 489 more. He appeared for a musical performance on Saturday Night Live on Oct. 7, singing I Won’t Back Down, which also served as a tribute to Tom Petty, who died Oct. 2.
The AsAmericanAsApplePie.org post, however, mixed some real details with some entirely fictional ones. It said Aldean addressed the audience before the song to say "people should not own more than one gun," and blamed the National Rifle Association for the massacre. Aldean did not do that.
It then gives a real quote from Aldean, who said about shooting victims, "So I want to say to them, ‘We hurt for you, and we hurt with you.’ But you can be sure that we’re going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way. Because when America is at its best, our bond, and our spirit, it’s unbreakable."
You can watch the real statement and performance here:
The post snaps back into fake events by saying Aldean "took a knee" as the band played part of the national anthem, and told people "not to cave to the NRA’s terroristic agenda" and "always stand up to gun violence and the policies that enable it."
None of those things happened, but the article said it spurred a #BoycottJasonAldean hashtag and led to the cancellation of Aldean’s concert in Birmingham, Ala.
Aldean’s Birmingham show was Aug. 10.
There is a #BoycottJasonAldean hashtag, but it’s difficult to tell if it stems from this fake story, which has fooled many people on Twitter, of Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White’s condemnation of Aldean for choosing to perform on SNL over UFC 216 in Las Vegas the same night.
AsAmericanAsApplePie.org has all the hallmarks of a series of fake websites associated with Christopher Blair, a self-described liberal troll who creates fictional stories to try to fool conservative readers.
We’ve fact-checked plenty of stories that originated from websites run by or affiliated with Blair, including TheLastLineOfDefense.org, FreedomCrossroad.us, OurLandOfTheFree.com and FreedomJunkshun.com.
AsAmericanAsApplePie.org uses the same website architecture as these other sites, and carries a disclaimer that reads, "As American as Apple Pie is here to be your beacon of something you can kinda rely on sometimes but not really." We reached out to the site but did not hear back.
This fake story capitalizes on real events but inserts false details into the narrative to confuse readers. We rate it Pants On Fire!