Fact Check

Pat Robertson Says David Bowie Isn't Dead?

Pat Robertson didn't suggest David Bowie wasn't really dead, or that "demons kidnapped him to entertain them in Hell."

Published Jan 15, 2016

Pat Robertson claimed David Bowie wasn't dead, but instead that "demons kidnapped him to entertain them in Hell."

On 13 January 2016, the web site Newslo published an article titled "Robertson: 'David Bowie Is Not Dead, He Was Kidnapped By Demons Summoned By Rock Music,'" claiming that televangelist Pat Robertson said the following during an airing of the 700 Club after David Bowie's death:

Recently on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson fielded a question from a teenage viewer who wanted to know if it is a sin to listen to rock music. The televangelist said that while people shouldn’t try to completely avoid mainstream music, they should be wary of listening to songs that may contain violent, satanic lyrics and beats that could summon demonic beings. “It depends on what rock you’re listening to,” he said. “Some of the stuff is just evil. They used to talk about killing your parents. There were odes to Satan. You don’t want that stuff coming into your mind. In one Indian context, they were playing rock music and the person said, ‘Why are you calling on the demons?’ because that was the kind of music they used to summon demons.”

“And it’s true, just look at what happened to David Bowie,” Robertson continued. “I mean, here you have a person who everybody is referring to as a legendary musician, an innovator, someone who changed the course of pop music history. In reality, Bowie was a deeply tormented gay drug addict, and it showed through his music and on his face. I mean, just take a look at any picture of him and tell me that’s not true. Tell me he doesn’t look like he just finished having a gay orgy, complete with a ton of drugs. And now people think he is dead. I’m kind of thinking, na-aah, no way. I’m thinking the demons kidnapped him to entertain them in Hell, because they got tired of mainstream punk-rock, and suddenly decided they were in the mood for some ‘Space Oddity.’”

While it's true that Robertson said that rock music songs were "odes to Satan" and music "used to summon demons," the second portion of the above-excerpted quote was fabricated, as Newslo itself showed. Content on the self-described "hybrid" news site Newslo (and related sites such as Religionlo and Politicalo) embellish controversial news items with exaggerated, fabricated details to generate outrage-based traffic.

Pages on Newslo (and its sister sites) display an interactive feature enabling readers to "Show Facts" or "Hide Facts," in order to highlight the fictional elements:

Articles published by Newslo, Politicalo, and Religionlo "Hide Facts" by default, ensuring most visitors remained unaware of embellishments carried alongside otherwise accurate information. In addition to the "Show Facts/Hide Facts" feature, Newslo's disclaimer explained:

Newslo is the first hybrid News/Satire platform on the web. Readers come to us for a unique brand of entertainment and information that is enhanced by features like our fact-button, which allows readers to find what is fact and what is satire.

Previous Newslo, Religionlo, and Politicalo articles that caused similar confusion included items claiming that Marco Rubio said women ought to be placed in custody if it was suspected they were considering an abortion, that Pat Roberton said gay people should wear specific colors by which heterosexual people might easily identify them, and that Pastor John Piper decreed bikini waxes a sin in the eyes of God.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.