The Conservativefrontline.com is reporting about Kim Davis’s “Seven Figure Book Deal.” I saw a post from a “USA Today” site this morning on facebook talking about her deal with “Forever Faith Publishing.” Others are picking up on this blockbuster story. Indeed, the net and social media are clamoring over Huckabee and Davis scoring this big deal after her recent controversies.
The story describes the tentative title for the book being “I’m A Survivor.” That title being a defiant play on the band that wrote the song “Eye of the Tiger” that was playing when Davis was released from prison for defying court orders. The reports also go on to talk about how important Mike Huckabee was in the whole thing and announce that the pair will be announcing this on Bill O’Reilly’s show next month.
The reaction on the web has been huge. People in Davis’s corner praising the literary victory and, of course, her detractors mocking and disparaging the move. Social media is abuzz with this story of a book to be released in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Only one problem — it’s ALL FAKE!!!
The story was put out by a site that allegedly does “satire” and fake news exclusively — National Report. The site is like a poor man’s “Onion.” Very poor, like on welfare or homeless might be a more appropriate description. Very little of what National report does is funny or even ironic. It is fake, though. Every single story. They even say so, but finding that evidence is sometimes a little difficult, and they like it that way. If you scroll down their page, you will find a very discreet “disclaimer” well below the story and off to the side. Click that disclaimer and you will read this;
National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help, please consult a professional. National Report is not intended for children under the age of 18.
I probably see 2 or 3 articles by this site weekly on social media. Usually, the comments sections are full of vitriol and praise from various individuals arguing their side of the “story.” The amazing thing is that you usually have to go FAR into the comments to find someone who discovers the rouse. People on one hand like to stand around and talk about how “others’ are always falling for fake news, propaganda and “slanted” reports where by contrast they are the true “unbiased” discerner of information. Those same people are often the ones commenting and getting their “panties in a bunch” over one of National Report’s fake stories, like this one.
The blame isn’t totally with the readers, however. National Report is irresponsible and unethical in my opinion. When other sites do “satire” or fake news, they say so — in a way that people know it. People KNOW The Onion is fake, they tell you in their tag-line — “A farcical newspaper featuring world, national and community news.” People KNOW Andy Borowitz writes satire — he brags about it. When Huffington Post or even American News X runs a story that is satirical or fake, we have a special “Satire” section that the article gets classified in. We also insist that the writer put a clear disclaimer in the article (usually at the bottom) so people don’t go around spreading such information as “news.” The philosophy being one that says “have fun and play your joke, but let the reader in on it, at least after the punchline.” Most readers aren’t going to click links off to the side to verify the story. National Report knows this, and takes advantage of it by putting the disclaimer subtly in the sidebar and making the reader do more work to discover the rouse — something they know 99 percent of readers won’t bother with.
We in the industry call this “click bait.” The fake story (not just a clever headline) is the bait, and you are the fish. Why do they do this? Profit is the obvious motive. Taking this dubious tact, National Report can write stories that are 100 percent bogus and present them as real news. Of course their news doesn’t have to worry about being scooped, as it is fake — so the only thing they worry about is making things so enticing for the reader that they can’t help but click — then share their fake story. Unlike others, National Report does everything it can to fool people and present itself as real news. The only admission of it being fake is quietly placed on the sidebar (with the ads) where they KNOW people won’t bother checking — especially since it really looks like a disclaimer for the ads, not the story. It may be technically legal, but I don’t think anyone would find this practice even close to ethical, even for “fake news.”
National Report isn’t trying to be funny or ironic — they just want to make people look like fools spreading their fake information for profit. Now at least you know about the scam that National Report has been running — please help us spread the word.
Featured image via screen capture from NationalReport.com