Media

Snopes Fact-Checks Itself For Omissions On Erica Thomas’s ‘Go Back Where You Came From’ Claims

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Ellie Gardey Contributor

Snopes has corrected a fact check it performed on Christian satire site the Babylon Bee following an irate Twitter thread from the Bee’s founder alleging the fact check was an “opinion” “hit piece.”

The fact check revolved around the Babylon Bee’s satirical article on Erica Thomas, a Georgia state representative who recently alleged a “white man” told her to “go back where she came from” at a Publix grocery store. Bee imagined if she had had a similar interaction with a Chick Fil A employee, later clarifying that the employee had been polite the entire time. Snopes slammed the piece of satire in their fact check, calling it “an apparent attempt to maximize online indignation” and casting Thomas as a hapless victim of racial discrimination.

There’s just one problem: As facts go, Thomas’s story began to unravel almost as soon as it started.

Not only did the man claim he was actually Cuban, but he contested her version of events during a contentious press interview, prompting her to later walk back her original charge. The man in question, Eric Sparkes, is also a Democrat who denounced Trump’s “go back to your country” tweets. A Publix manager also told police Thomas was the one who “continuously” used “go back” language towards Sparkes. Further video evidence appears to show Thomas acting as the aggressor in an interaction with Sparkes. (RELATED: Georgia Democratic Lawmaker Appears To Be Caught Lying About Alleged Racist Encounter)

Readers of Snopes’ version of the events would be ignorant of this information, as Snopes omitted all of it. The only information Snopes included that disputes Thomas’ claims is Sparkes’ denial.

The Daily Caller reached out to Snopes regarding these omissions. The author of the piece, Dan Evon, responded to the Caller’s inquiry.

“I haven’t seen that quote before,” he said, referencing Representative Thomas’ admission (“I don’t want to say he said ‘go back to your country'”) that her earlier version of events was not honest. “But I think you’re right, it’s probably worth adding,” Evon said. Shortly after, an addendum was added to Snopes’ article to account for this information.

Below is the original version of events that was published by Snopes.

This is Snopes' original telling of the events surrounding Representative Thomas' claims. (Snopes)

This is Snopes’ original telling of the events surrounding Representative Thomas’ claims. (Snopes)

After the Daily Caller contacted Snopes, the article was updated to include the additional information seen below.

This is Snopes' updated version of the events that took place at Publix. (Snopes)

This is Snopes’ updated version of the events that took place at Publix. (Snopes)

It was the full version of events that prompted the Babylon Bee to write a humorous satire headline about a fictional interaction Thomas might have had with a Chick-fil-A employee. The satirical piece is entitled “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.’”

The headline is a play on Chick Fil A’s overly polite employees, who even go so far as to resuscitate choking children and change car tires. The Babylon Bee poked fun at the reputation, imagining that if a Chik-fil-A employee were treated the way Thomas allegedly treated Sparkes, the employee would have responded graciously.

“Even after the clarification, the Chick-fil-A employee still wrote Thomas an apology letter for any misunderstanding, and the restaurant manager gave her coupons for a week’s worth of free chicken biscuits,” the Babylon Bee article reads.

In their fact check, Snopes condemned the Babylon Bee for writing the satirical piece, saying the article was “fanning the flames of controversy” and it was also “muddying the details of a news story.”

Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford hit back at Snopes in a lengthy Twitter thread Thursday in which he accused Snopes of moralizing what should and should not be satire. Ford said he believes the Snopes fact check “is not a ‘fact-check’ at all — it’s an opinion piece. A hit piece.”

“Just in the subtitle of this ‘objective fact check’ they’ve veered toward pronouncing a moral judgment, assigning motives, and presuming to dictate — to one of the most popular satire sites on the planet — what does and does not count as satire,” said Ford.

In the subtitle of Snopes’ fact check, author Dan Evon said: “We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire.’”(RELATED: Fact-Checking Snopes: Website’s Political ‘Fact-Checker’ Is Just A Failed Liberal Blogger)

We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire,'" says the tagline of the Snopes piece. (Snopes/Screenshot)

“We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire,'” says the tagline of the Snopes piece. (Snopes/Screenshot)

The Snopes article says: “While this real-world incident stirred up a good amount of online anger, it wasn’t quite outrageous enough for the entertainment website Babylon Bee. In an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation, this website published a fictionalized version of the story, changing the location to Chick-fil-A, a fast-food restaurant known for its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage:” 

Ford called Snopes’ allegation that the Babylon Bee attempted to maximize online indignation “subjective and malicious.” He also hit back against Snopes’ characterization of Chick-fil-A: “Also, imagine the type of ideological bubble one must live in to think that what Chick-fil-A is ‘known for’ is ‘its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage,’” said Ford. “It’s the most beloved fast-food chain in the country!”

The Babylon Bee founder said it was “troubling” Snopes used the word “ruse,” to describe the Babylon Bee’s satirical article, as he considered it an “accusation.” Ford said, “The real problem here is that Snopes (and sites like them) *advertise themselves as objective, trustworthy arbiters of truth — and important, influential people and media routinely use them as definitive indicators of truthfulness in ways that really affect people’s lives.*”

The Babylon Bee published an article satirizing Snopes’ fact-check of them, entitled “Snopes Rolls Out New Opinion Check Feature.” The satirical tagline says, “We’ll tell you which opinions are OK and which ones make you a Nazi.”

This is not the first time Snopes has fact-checked the Babylon Bee. Snopes has cleared the record on Babylon Bee content with articles entitled: “Did U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Repeatedly Guess ‘Free’ on TV Show ‘The Price is Right?’”, “Did ‘VeggieTales’ Introduce a New Cannabis Character?” and “Is California Considering a Tax on Breathing?”.