On Oct. 8, 2023, Patriot Party Press published an article claiming that "Rich Men North of Richmond" singer Oliver Anthony had filed a "slander suit" against pop-country singer Maren Morris. The article was published after Morris made headlines when she told the Los Angeles Times in September 2023 that she was "stepping back" from country music, saying, "I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over. But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
Oliver Anthony Files Slander Suit Against Maren Morris: “Don’t Blame Your Problems On Me”
Maren Morris, the leftist singer who recently announced she’s leaving country music, made an enemy of Oliver Anthony in the process.
“She called my music problematic and that’s not okay,” Anthony told YouTuber Joe Barron, “she slandered me and said I’m responsible for the downfall of America. I’m like…what the hell? Then, one of my concerts was canceled because they have a contract with her, so now her slander is causing me real financial harm.”
The Patriot Party Press story was posted to the "America - Love It Or Leave" Facebook page. We found comments under the post that indicated people believed the story was real. Many people commented that they hoped Anthony would win his case.
The article wasn't discussing real events. The Patriot Party Press is part of the America's Last Line of Defense network of websites and social media accounts. It describes its articles as being humorous or satirical in nature:
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical.
The Patriot Party Press claim spread after the New York Times posted a podcast episode on Oct. 4, 2023, that featured an interview with Morris. We found the podcast posted to YouTube, with Morris discussing her feelings about "Rich Men North of Richmond" at 43:23 in the video:
I mean, before I heard the lyrics, I thought, 'This guy can sing his ass off.' And I really do love that type of sound. I like bluegrass. I grew up listening to a lot of that, and anything with a soulful tinge, I'm down for. I think it was the second verse that threw me for a loop.
But I don't have a ton of opinion on it. But I mean, I did think it was crazy and it was just kind of compounded with the "Small Town" thing. These are all just kind of getting co-opted by the conservative right, and this is theirs now. And I kind of did appreciate Oliver Anthony being like, 'No, it's not.' I love that he was just like, 'No, this wasn't for you.' So I was like, 'That's kind of badass.'
But yeah, lot of problematic stuff with that verse.
"Rich Men North of Richmond" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart earlier in 2023. Publications like Forbes, Rolling Stone and The Washington Post linked its success to the efforts of right-wing influencers and pundits; the Post wrote that the song mentions conspiracy theories deeply rooted in far-right circles. "I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own, and I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation," Anthony said in a YouTube video posted to his channel after the song was mentioned at the first 2024 Republican primary debate in August 2023.
While talking about the song, Morris also mentioned "Try That in a Small Town" by Jason Aldean. The song also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart earlier this year. The music video for the song was pulled by the Country Music Television network following backlash over the song's lyrics, as well as the music video featuring a Tennessee courthouse where a Black teenager was lynched in 1927.
We've previously fact-checked other satirical claims made about Anthony, including one rumor that claimed the singer and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson were teaming up to sue the cable network for $10 million.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.