The founding editor of the Christian satire website The Babylon Bee announced recently the popular outlet has retained a legal team after the left-leaning Snopes “fact-checked” yet another one of the site’s articles and openly pondered the motivation behind the faith-based website’s work.
In a statement, The Bee argued Snopes “appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us.”
Last week, the satire site — which is not unlike The Onion — published a post about Erica Thomas, a progressive state legislator from Georgia who lied about an interaction she had with a white man at the grocery store, falsely claiming he told her to “go back” to where she came from. The headline of The Bee’s satirical article read, “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.’”
Snopes then attempted to debunk the article, which was obviously satirical, and then rebuked the website for “fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story.” The post went on to question whether The Bee should be classified as satire at all.
“This time, instead of merely rating the article ‘false,’ they questioned whether our work qualifies as satire, and even went so far as to suggest that we were deliberately deceiving our readers,” read a statement from The Bee.
The team over at Snopes isn’t alone in assigning motives to The Bee. CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter also treats The Bee differently from The Onion, claiming the former is intentionally misleading while the latter is purely satirical.
Adam Ford, the satire site’s founder, posted a lengthy Twitter thread late last month, calling out Snopes for “veer[ing] toward pronouncing a moral judgment, assigning motives, and presuming to dictate — to one of the most popular satire sites on the planet — what does and does not count as satire.”
“What they’ve written this time certainly seems like an attempt to delegitimize and demonize an important satirical outlet, and that is totally unacceptable,” Ford went on to write.
He added, “A clumsy mistake or an incompetent writer are insufficient explanations for publishing something like this when you position yourself as an unbiased, stalwart arbiter of truth and presume to wield the influence that comes along with that title.”
The Bee noted it is particularly concerned about being deplatformed and demonetized because social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have been working with left-leaning fact-checking sites like Snopes to safeguard their networks from “fake news.” Facebook and Twitter have been deplatforming websites labeled by Snopes and other fact-checkers as sources of erroneous information.
In order to combat these concerns, The Bee has hired a legal team.
“While we wish it wasn’t necessary,” the outlet’s statement read, “we have retained a law firm to represent us in this matter.”
How is Snopes responding?
Snopes, in response to criticism from Ford and others, added an editor’s note to its article about The Bee’s post poking fun at the Erica Thomas story.
“Some readers,” the note from the fact-checking website read, “interpreted wording in a previous version of this fact check as imputing deceptive intent on the part of Babylon Bee.”
“To address any confusion, we have revised some of the wording mostly for tone and clarity,” it continued. “We are in the process of pioneering industry standards for fact-checking the treatment of satire and will keep you posted on our progress.”
Snopes did, in fact, remove much of the wording assigning a nefarious motive to The Bee.