On 8 December 2017, a self-described “satire” website going by the name “No Fake News Online” published a story with the following headline:
BREAKING: Roy Moore’s Accuser Arrested And Charged With Falsification
While the contents of the article are — despite the site’s name and according to its disclaimer — made up, the headline plays on a controversy generated by Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson’s interview with ABC News, where she said that she had added notes under a yearbook inscription attributed to Moore: specifically, the date and location written under Moore’s signature.
Fox News, in their coverage of this interview, tweeted (and then redacted) a shocking headline:
Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama senate candidate.
Fox later deleted the tweet and substantially altered their coverage, appending an update to their story:
An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as “notes” beneath what she says is Roy Moore’s signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.
While No Fake News Online uses a made-up name for the Roy Moore accuser in their story (“Mary Lynne Davies”) it clearly plays on this earlier controversy:
After it was discovered that Roy Moore’s accuser is a liar and a Democrat, Alabama Attorney General John Simmons filed charges of falsification, a 1st-degree misdemeanor. Mary Lynne Davies, who said Roy Moore seduced and molested her when she was 14-years-old and he was in his early 30s, now faces a year in prison and $10K in fines.
The revelation came after the yearbook inscription that Moore supposedly wrote in the 1970s turned out to be a forgery. Davies, who tried desperately to convince anyone who would listen that Moore raped her, is now in hiding after posting $500 in bail money.
“No Fake News Online” describes itself, however, as “a whimsical playland of conservative satire”, and their about page contains this disclaimer:
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.
However, not everyone takes the time to hunt down a disclaimer, and the types of sites that trawl the Internet for content and pick up stories such as these do not carry disclaimers at all, further spreading false and corrosive stories.
“No Fake News Online” appears to be part of an ecosystem of conservative-targeted “satire” pages associated with sites like TheLastLineOfDefense.org (now defunct), AsAmericanAsApplePie.org, and FreedumJunkshun.com. In October 2017, Freedum Junkshun was forced to retract a hoax “story” that they ran claiming that Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was one of four soldiers killed in Niger that month, had deserted his post days before the attack.