Politics

Man Confesses How He Thinks He May Have Accidentally Got Trump Elected

Paul Horner writes fake news stories online. He just confessed to The Washington Post that he thinks that his false stories, which spread on Facebook, may have helped President-elect Donald Trump win the election.

The 38-year-old, who called his work satire like that of fake news site The Onion, spread false election stories about Trump; most were able to pick up steam. One of his faux news stories, originally published on Oct. 25, described how the Amish community was voting in droves for Trump, "mathematically guaranteeing him a presidential victory."

Horner makes money off these stories via Google's AdSense function. But, now, he has some major regrets.

"I think Trump is in the White House because of me."

When asked how his "fake news" may have gotten Trump the presidency, Horner explained it was a combination of his "news" being spread by Trump supporters — and from people in Trump's own camp. He went on to add:

"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist."

In March, Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, who was later hired by CNN, tweeted Horner's fake protestor story to his thousands of followers.

Corey R. Lewandowski tweets fake news

The link was from abcnews.com.co, which is different from the real news site, abcnews.com.

The screen shot of the aforementioned fake Craigslist protestor ad appeared on Horner's abcnews.com.co story:

fake craigslist ad for Trump protester

Horner's article, "Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: 'I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally'" was credited to a "Jimmy Rustling," which is a name that's a play on a meme. Here's a fake quote directly from the protester story:

"'I knew those weren’t real protesters, they were too organized and smart," said 59-year-old Tom Downey, a Trump supporter who attended the rally in Fountain Hills. "I knew there was something up when they started shouting all these facts and nonsense like that. The best we could do was just yell and punch em' and stuff.'"

Horner told The Washington Post in regards to his fake Trump stories, "I thought they’d fact-check it, and it’d make them look worse. I mean that’s how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots. But Trump supporters — they just keep running with it!"

The fake news epidemic.

Fake news has been a frequent issue in this election. In October, a series of tweets from a Twitter user named raandy about working in a post office and ripping up absentee ballots voting for Trump, was reported as news by a few right-wing media outlets, like Drudge Report.

Millions of people seemingly fell for a fake Facebook post in September which Mark Zuckerberg allegedly declared he would delete Trump's Facebook page if the post got "500k likes, 50k comments and 20k shares."

fake facebook post

In November, The Oxford Dictionary named "post-truth" its word of the year, defining post-truth as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

It further stated the word was chosen because "Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States."

In an effort to combat fake news, Facebook users have been sharing a list of over 130 fake news (or purposefully misleading, clickbaity news) websites assembled in a Google Doc by Melissa Zimdars, associate professor of communications at Merrimack College.

False Misleading News Sources list

As for Horner, the great irony is that he isn't even a Trump supporter, telling The Washington Post, "I hate Trump."

[H/T The Washington Post]