Gather ’round, kids, for story-telling time so your Aunt Sarah can tell you tales from her Generation X-era of the early days of the World Wide Web — that’s what we used to call the internet!
Way back in 1994 — before many of you were even born! — David and Barbara Mikkelson created a website called Snopes.com and it was a lot of fun for trivia nerds, settling office debates about whether combining Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola really killed Little Mikey from the Life Cereal ads (it didn’t!), and just wasting time online researching random urban legends.
Today, sadly, Snopes is much less fun. They’ve been spending an absolutely absurd amount of time fact-checking not actual claims of fact, but a satire site known as The Babylon Bee.
Just so we’re all clear, here’s the definition of satire, from dictionary.com:
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Satire is not real. It’s making fun of something by using over-the-top absurdities and sarcasm. Satire might comment on the news, but it is not news.
Normal people with normally functioning levels of brain cells understand this.
The Babylon Bee is satire. They do not hide this fact.
When you Google “babylon bee,” the description says “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.” Likewise, their “About Us” page begins, “The Babylon Bee is the world’s best satire site…” As Reason noted, their newsletter signup is labeled as “Fake news you can trust, delivered straight to your inbox.”
And yet, Snopes has been repeatedly attempting to “fact check” Babylon Bee articles, to the point that they were characterizing them as “fake news” and temporarily risked The Babylon Bee losing their status on Facebook (understandably, they are considering legal action).
Recently, there have been multiple news articles mocking Snopes for their overzealous attempt to fact-check The Babylon Bee (including here at RedState), but that apparently has not dissuaded them. Here they are today, complaining that The Babylon Bee is “factually inaccurate”:
Stories published by The Babylon Bee were among the most shared factually inaccurate content in almost every survey of this research. https://t.co/x96rPCl1w9
— snopes.com (@snopes) August 16, 2019
Stellar investigative journalism, y’all. The satire site is factually inaccurate.
Maybe next, Snopes can blow open Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scam pretending to be an airline pilot!
Or perhaps a helpful explainer about how banging two coconuts together is not an adequate way to travel around medieval England?
Do we need to be told that Charlie Chaplin wasn’t actually showing real scenes from Adolf Hitler’s life in The Great Dictator?
Thank goodness we have Snopes to let us know that Kim Jong Il was not actually an alien cockroach operating a puppet!
All joking aside, it appears that Snopes’ real problem with The Babylon Bee is not that they don’t understand satire, but that The Babylon Bee’s particular brand of satire — coming from a Christian, conservative perspective — annoys them. They haven’t engaged in a vigorous, scorched-earth fact-checking of Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, or Real Time with Bill Maher, or any number of liberal-leaning comedy shows and websites.
Politics is divisive enough. Attacking the creative minds who are approaching the news of the day with humor leaves us all worse off.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.