I wonder how far as a satirical site – which exempts it from Facebook’s fact-checking program – it has allowed them to spread misinformation under the guise of comedy. Do you think this is a conscious strategy?
Well, that’s a great question because it was a huge source of controversy for her. You had a couple of items that Snopes reviewed and rated “incorrect”. What the authors and editors of The Bee claim led Facebook to threaten them with a demonstration (Facebook denies this). The bee’s founder, Adam Ford, has claimed that Snopes checked it in a way that was “egregious”, with standards not applied to The Onion, for example.
The bee feels that they are being attacked unfairly. But Snopes spurred on the fact that their pieces can sometimes be easily mistaken for real news – which might fall on them, not their readers.
Politics aside, this speaks to the impossibility of being a satirical place in the age of the mega-platform. Because on the one hand, you have to write things that are so obviously fictional that they can’t reasonably be confused with real news, but are also close enough to the truth to be funny.
One hundred percent. Truth is funnier than fiction these days.
I was wondering what the entire library-owned media complex (which I would class The Bee as a part of even if it weren’t) would do if Trump loses in November. Feel like The Bee cares who wins the election from a comedic potential point of view?
What’s funny is that because they’re not Trump loyalists, they can see an advantage for their comedy. In some ways, comedy is a lot easier when you are not the party in power. On the other hand, Trump is such an absurd character that he can lend himself to some really wild caricatures. The Bee’s editor-in-chief told me Trump was great at comedy, so he’d be happy to see him win – adding a little later that they might be fed up with Trump’s Trump humor and ready for a change. They also see a lot of humor in the Biden Camp, especially when they play out the theme of “Sleepy Joe”.
What I’m taking from this conversation is: The Babylon Bee is not a covert disinformation operation disguised as a right-wing satirical site and is actually trying to do comedy but may inadvertently spread bad information if people take their stories too seriously?
Mainly. But they also seem to find it pretty funny when their content is mistaken for real news – and they’re not exactly going overboard to stop that.