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A CNN reporter sounded the alarm on Sunday over the popularity of a piece published by a conservative satirical site.
Last week, The Babylon Bee drew some laughs with an article poking fun at the Democrats’ reaction to the U.S. airstrike that led to the death of Irani Gen. Qassem Soleimani, using the headline “Democrats Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast to Grieve Death of Soleimani.”
Responding to a Twitter user who expressed concern that “Republican friends” on Facebook “are circulating it like it’s legit,” CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan pointed out that The Babylon Bee was getting more traffic on that one article than his network and The New York Times get weekly.
“To put this in perspective, this is the same number of engagements the top NY Times and CNN stories on Facebook had over the past week,” O’Sullivan wrote. “A lot of people sharing this ‘satirical’ story on Facebook don’t know it is satire.”
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O’Sullivan, who covers “disinformation, politics, and technology” blasted site over what he suggested was the site’s weak effort to declare itself as a satirical outlet.
“Having a disclaimer buried somewhere on your site that says it’s ‘satire’ seems like a good way to get around a lot of the changes Facebook has made to reduce the spread of clickbait and misinformation,” O’Sullivan elaborated before pointing to Facebook users whose comments suggest they believe the satirical piece.
O’Sullivan was the subject of mockery on social media over what has been called a “public meltdown.”
“Why is a CNN reporter having a public meltdown over a satire site,” Washington Examiner Executive Editor Seth Mandel asked.
“You guys should definitely keep focusing your energy on Babylon Bee and people sharing a joke article is in no way a reflection of the garbage state of your profession,” conservative commentator Stephen Miller wrote.
“I can’t believe this thread isn’t satire,” National Review senior writer David Harsanyi quipped.
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Even the founder of The Babylon Bee weighed in on the dustup.
“A CNN reporter is taking shots at the Bee because our articles get shared a lot and some people think they’re real (which will always happen with satire). After thinking ‘how adorable,’ I thought, ‘well surely this guy has chirped at the Onion for the same thing…” Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford responded. “There are websites dedicated to chronicling reactions from people who think Onion stories are real. Foreign leaders have famously been fooled by Onion articles. And this guy’s bio says he ‘covers disinformation’ for CNN. Surely he has taken the Onion to task as well, yes?”
He continued, “As it turns out, Mr. O’Sullivan HAS tweeted about the Onion. But it looks like he’s quite the fan!”
Ford included screenshots of several tweets made by O’Sullivan praising The Onion’s work.
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The Babylon Bee, which is widely seen as a conservative version of The Onion, had some fun of its own, sharing a 2017 piece on Monday with the headline, “CNN To Launch Real News Spinoff Site.”
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