Q: Did Sen. Chuck Schumer resign? Was Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired? Are the Clintons divorcing? Is Monica Lewinsky dead?
A: No. Each claim was made by the same website that writes “fiction as fact.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer resigned from Congress in disgrace. Monica Lewinsky was found dead. President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions in connection to espionage.
What do these things have in common? They are all claims made in fake news stories that were reported by users of Facebook as potentially bogus. And the stories, regardless of the website where people read them, were all originally published by the “satirical” website known as America’s Last Line of Defense.
A disclaimer on its “about us” page says: “America’s Last Line of Defense is a satirical publication that may sometimes appear to be telling the truth. We assure you that’s not the case. We present fiction as fact and our sources don’t actually exist. Names that represent actual people and places are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and do not in any way depict reality.”
Still, we get questions from readers about the veracity of that website’s articles time and time again. That’s because it’s not always obvious to readers that the stories are made up. Fake news sites regularly copy stories from America’s Last Line of Defense without giving the site credit, or indicating its true intentions.
Here, we’ll quickly debunk six different stories that were originally published on thelastlineofdefense.org, but were flagged by Facebook users who found them published on other websites.
Claim: Chuck Schumer resigned from the Senate in disgrace.
Original publication date: May 23
Don’t believe claims that Schumer recently resigned from Congress “after learning that the White House has enough on him to ruin his marriage and send him to jail.” The New York senator has not succumbed to blackmail and remains the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate. Weeks after the article first appeared, Schumer was still holding press conferences and making statements about legislation on the Senate floor.
Claim: President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions over connection to espionage.
Original publication date: June 7
Flagged on: Conservative Flash News
The claim that Sessions has been fired after the discovery that a “young NSA operative now charged with espionage was working directly for Sessions to purposely leak information to the Russians” doesn’t hold water. The fake story about Sessions was published one day after ABC News first reported that Sessions, according to unnamed sources, had offered to resign his post over growing tension between Sessions and Trump over the FBI’s Russia investigation. But the charges against Reality Winner, the 25-year-old former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified information to U.S. media, have nothing to do with Sessions, who is still the attorney general. The Department of Justice, which Sessions heads, said in a press release that Winner “unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.” That’s contrary to the article’s claim that Winner gave Sessions “a communication of some sort.”
Claim: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds President Trump’s travel ban.
Original publication date: June 5
No, the Supreme Court didn’t recently rule “5-4 that the President’s travel bans are well within his constitutional rights to impose.” Trump’s first executive order limiting refugees and foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia) from traveling to the U.S. was blocked by federal courts, as was his revised order, which had exempted Iraq. Then, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled May 25 that the revised order should remain on hold, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did the same on June 12. The Supreme Court, however, hasn’t even decided if it will hear an appeal as the Justice Department has requested.
Claim: Bill Clinton filed for divorce from Hillary Clinton.
Original publication date: May 11
Flagged on: Conservative Flash News
As this fake story goes, President Bill Clinton filed for divorce after discovering that his wife may have been involved in the murder of one of his “love child[ren] from the 1990s.” But that didn’t happen. Bill and Hillary Clinton are still married, and were seen walking together in the Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua, New York, on May 29. That was more than two weeks after their purported split.
Claim: Monica Lewinsky was found dead.
Original publication date: June 3
Monica Lewinsky wasn’t “murdered in a burglary” while visiting a high school friend. Lewinsky, the former White House intern who had an affair with President Clinton in the 1990s, is very much alive. On June 5, she tweeted “#stillhere” along with a link to a Snopes.com article debunking the bogus story that she had been killed.
Claim: Bill Clinton released a statement about Lewinsky’s murder.
Original publication date: June 4
Flagged on: Daily USA Update
This one is easy. Lewinsky isn’t dead, so Clinton couldn’t have released a statement about her “murder” that asked “for privacy during this time for myself, my family and for Monica’s family.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
Flash News Corner. “JUST IN: Chuck Schumer Resigns From The Senate In Disgrace.” Flashnewscorner.com. 23 May 2017.
Willard, Brian. “Chuck Schumer Resigns From The Senate In Disgrace.” Theusaconservative.com. 4 Jun 2017.
Stryker. “Chuck Schumer Resigns From The Senate In Disgrace.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 23 May 2017.
ConservativeFN. “BREAKING: Trump Fires Jeff Sessions For Connection To Espionage.” Conservativeflashnews.com. 7 Jun 2017.
Karl, Jonathan. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he could resign amid rising tension with President Trump.” ABC News. 6 Jun 2017.
CBS News. “Jeff Sessions to testify: Focus of Russia probe shifts to Attorney General.” Cbsnews.com. 12 Jun 2017.
Baker, Peter and Haberman, Maggie. “Trump Grows Discontented With Attorney General Jeff Sessions.” Nytimes.com. 5 Jun 2017.
Stryker. “BREAKING: Trump Fires Jeff Sessions For Connection To Espionage.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 7 Jun 2017.
Admin. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules On Travel Ban.” Breakingtop.world. Accessed 9 Jun 2017.
Admin. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules On Travel Ban.” Conservativearmy88.com. 6 Jun 2017.
News Feed Hunter. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules On Travel Ban.” Newsfeedhunter.com. 5 Jun 2017.
Domonoske, Camila. “4th Circuit Court Ruling Keeps Trump’s Travel Ban On Hold.” Npr.org. 25 May 2017.
Stryker. “BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules On Travel Ban.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 5 Jun 2017.
Hamedy, Saba. “Here’s how the Clintons spent their Memorial Day.” CNN. 30 May 2017.
Blue Vision Post. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead In Roslindale.” Bluevisionpost.com. 3 Jun 2017.
Admin. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead.” Breakingtop.world. Accessed 9 Jun 2017.
American News. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead In Roslindale.” Aenews-24.com. 3 Jun 2017.
Blazevska, Venera. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead.” Dailyusaupdate.com. 4 Jun 2017.
Stryker. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 3 Jun 2017.
Truth Dealer. “BREAKING: Monica Lewinsky Found Dead In Roslindale.” Freedomcrossroads.us. 3 Jun 2017.
Baker, Peter and Harris, John F. “Clinton Admits to Lewinsky Relationship, Challenges Starr to End Personal ‘Prying.’” Washingtonpost.com. 18 Aug 1998.
This Day In History. “President Clinton Impeached.” History.com. Accessed 12 Jun 2017.
Conservative FN. “BREAKING: Bill Clinton Files For Divorce This Morning!” Conservativeflashnews.com. 6 June 2017.
Stryker. “BREAKING: Bill Clinton Files For Divorce After 8-Yr-Old Love Child Is Found Murdered.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. 11 May 2017.
Borchers, Callum. “Danney Williams is not Bill Clinton’s son, no matter what Matt Drudge tells you.” Washingtonpost.com. 16 Oct 2016.
@danney_williams. “Danney Williams.” Twitter.com. Accessed 9 Jun 2016.
Blazevska, Venera. “Bill Clinton Releases More Details About Monica Lewinsky’s Murder.” Dailyusaupdate.com. 4 Jun 2017.
@HillaryClinton. “A rainy but wonderful morning march in the Chappaqua Memorial Day Parade. Thinking of our veterans who gave their lives for this country.” Twitter.com. 29 May 2017.