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Winning the Messaging Battle, Part I

For Some Reason, USA Today Felt the Need to Fact-Check Satire

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Fact-checks often strikeout. Sometimes they appear to be downright malicious, as was the case with the PolitiFact fact-check on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), as I highlighted on Sunday. But then there are those which really don't make any sense. For whatever reason, USA Today's Ana Faguy thought it necessary to fact-check an article from the Babylon Bee, which most people know is a satire site. The claim in question was a social media post from March 7 that "Biden Sells Alaska Back To Russia So We Can Start Drilling For Oil There Again."


Faguy is blaming the Facebook account of "Being Libertarian," which mostly shares political articles and amusing memes. Her archived version is in another language, but the original version, in English, is also still up at this time. It does come with a "fact-check" label though.

That Facebook would be involved in such a way makes perfect sense, considering that at the very bottom of Faguy's fact-check is the disclaimer that "Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook."

It's truly befuddling that Faguy would feel the need to fact-check the social media post at all. Her headline, opening paragraph, and rating all acknowledge that the post is satire. Even worse is that USA Today "has previously fact-checked out-of-context headlines from the website," Faguy shares.

Faguy's fact-check doesn't just stop there, as she provides all sorts of unnecessary context about gas prices, which have been affected by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions.

From the fact-check:

There is no evidence Biden said he plans to sell Alaska. 

Biden announced March 8 a ban on U.S. imports of all Russian energy products.

"Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports," the president said at the White House. "We will not be part of subsidizing Putin's war."

During his remarks, Biden warned the decision could affect Americans because prices are rising at the gas pump. The U.S. relies on Russia for 3% of all its crude oil imports. 

The Babylon Bee headline also appears to reference a Jan. 10 announcement from the Biden administration to reverse a Trump-era policy aimed at opening up large areas of the Arctic to oil development.


Babylon Bee responded in good humor over Twitter.

As did its CEO, Seth Dillon.

Also mentioned at the end of the fact-check is that, in addition to the Babylon Bee website, Faguy had to consult five articles for their sources on this, including four from USA Today and one from Reuters.

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