On Jan. 3, 2019, the Babylon Bee published an article positing that several Democratic lawmakers had called for flags to be flown at half-mast in order to pay respect to Iran Gen. Qassem Soleimani after he was killed in a drone strike ordered by the United States:
Democrats Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast To Grieve Death Of Soleimani
WASHINGTON, D.C.—At a press conference held on Capitol Hill Friday, mourning Democrat leaders called for flags to be flown half-mast to honor the death of Qasem Soleimani.
Flags were spotted flying at half-mast around the country, notably at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and in front of several celebrities’ homes. The celebrities went out and bought an American flag for the first time just to fly it at half-mast for this important time of grief.
This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:
The Babylon Bee is the world’s best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.
This article from the Babylon Bee was massively popular, racking up more than 750,000 shares on social media within a few days of its initial posting. While those familiar with the Bee’s content may have recognized this article as a piece of satire, some social media users mistook this piece of fiction as if it were a genuine news item.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.