On 1 July 2016, the notoriously unreliable Breitbart web site published an article based on “conservative icon” Sarah Palin’s quipping that “paid anti-Trump protesters show presidential candidate Donald Trump is creating jobs even before taking office,” and quoting her as follows:
“We’ve been telling [Trump] he should hold his rallies at construction sites. You know protesters aren’t going to show up at a job site,” said Palin. “Did you know some of those rebel rousers, they’re actually paid protesters. So there you go, not even president yet and our guy’s already creating jobs.”
Of course, such a quip wouldn’t be funny — or relevant — if paid protesters weren’t actually showing up at rallies for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. And as usual, Breitbart had a problem with not being able to demonstrate that what they were reporting was actually true.
In support of the claim that the Trump campaign was being targeted by “hired gun” protesters, Breitbart cited a Fox News report about a Craiglist ad supposedly offering “paid positions to protest Trump rally” and an ABC News report about a protester who allegedly answered such an ad and was paid $3,500 for his efforts:
Fox News Insider reported on a Craigslist ad soliciting for anti-Trump protesters, allegedly posted by supporters of Bernie Sanders.
One alleged Arizona protester said he received $3,500 after answering a Craigslist ad that led to him protesting Trump’s Fountain Hills, Arizona rally according to ABC News. He said that after protesting the event he received a check from “Women Are The Future.”
That “evidence” was less than convincing, however. Multiple ads have been posted on Craiglist purportedly seeking paid protesters during the 2016 presidential campaign, yet those ads are always quickly taken down, and none of them has yet proved to be anything other than a hoax.
Even worse, the quote Breitbart offered from the “Arizona protester [who] said he received $3,500 after answering a Craigslist ad that led to him protesting Trump’s Fountain Hills, Arizona rally” did not originate with a report from the legitimate ABC News outlet, but with a fake news article published on a fake news site that appropriated ABC News’ trademarks to masquerade as a real news site to lure in gullible readers — as should have been obvious to anyone who actually read the article’s text:
“I knew those weren’t real protesters, they were too organized and smart,” said 59-year-old Tom Downey, a Trump supporter who attended the rally in Fountain Hills. “I knew there was something up when they started shouting all these facts and nonsense like that. The best we could do was just yell and punch em’ and stuff.” Downey continued, “I think we did a good job though. I was shouting at them the whole time, calling them losers, telling them to get a job or go back home to mommy’s house; I got a bunch of high-fives from my fellow Trump supporters. It was a great time.”
As of now, two months after its initial publication, the original Breitbart article still hasn’t been updated to remove the fabricated information or acknowledge the error:
Breitbart previously cited a satirical article about the origins of California’s state flag as factual.