In April 2017, the entertainment web site The Last Line of Defense published a series of false articles concerning U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and multiple mysterious deaths.
Gowdy is the chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, and squared off against Clinton in 2016 during an eight-hour hearing on the attack on a U.S. consulate and a CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, when Clinton was Secretary of State. The attacks have sparked multiple conspiracy theories.
In addition to inventing a story claiming that a former Clinton assistant was found dead shortly before he was to testify about Benghazi, The Last Line of Defense has also published at least two other fake news articles on the topic. One claimed that two of Trey Gowdy’s investigators were found dead in Arkansas, while a second claimed that Gowdy had been forced into hiding.
All of these stories are fictional.
The Last Line of Defense is an entertainment web site with a penchant for fake news. The web site, which has a long history of publishing misinformation, carries a disclaimer labeling its content as satirical:
DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.
In addition to their publication on a fake news site, there were several other ways to deduce that these items were false. The article claiming that two of Gowdy’s investigators were found dead in Arkansas included two images from an unrelated event:
The first image (left) was taken from an ABC News video about a “body farm” in Tennessee where researchers studied the decomposition of corpses, and the second image (right) was taken in 2014 and shows authorities removing the body of Arnis Zalkalns, the suspected killer of Alice Gross who took his own life, from the woods in West London.
The rumor that Gowdy was “forced into protective custody” also doesn’t hold up in light of the politician’s recent appearances. On 24 April 2017, for instance, Gowdy delivered a speech at South Carolina’s Converse College, something that would surely be impossible if Gowdy was in protective custody.