In July 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about a group of Democratic congresswomen as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Immediately afterwards, the internet saw a surge of negative articles and memes about the women whom Trump was presumably referencing: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. (Only Omar, from Somalia, was actually born outside the U.S.)
On July 19, the Potatriots Unite junk news website played into this trend by publishing an article positing that Tlaib was under investigation for election fraud:
Inside sources have revealed that Michigan Democrat Representative Rashida Tlaib is under FBI investigation for alleged election tampering in her own election.
It is alleged that Tlaib, in her zeal to win and attempt to take down the president, rigged voting machines in her district to allow her name to appear as a voting option. This after her republican rival, whose company manufactured the machines, had erased any mention of her on the ballots.
Not only was that premise absurd on its face (i.e., one candidate trying to outfraud the other) and Tlaib not under investigation for election fraud, but the Potatriots Unite narrative ran contrary to the basic facts of the election it referenced. Tlaib won her seat in the U.S. House in a 2018 election in which she garnered a whopping 84% of the vote — in large part because the previous incumbent had resigned the seat after facing allegations of sexual misconduct, and no Republican filed to run in the general election.
None of the premise was true because the story was a complete fabrication from Potatriots Unite, a site that is part of the America’s Last Line of Defense (LLOD) network of websites and social media accounts infamous for generating politically inflammatory misinformation under the guise of proffering “satire.”