Top 10 Biggest Fake News Stories
VOICE OVER: RB
WRITTEN BY: William Regot
Script written by William Regot
These completely fabricated stories surprisingly managed to convince very large audiences. From Planet Nibiru destroying earth, to RuPaul accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, to the infamous Balloon Boy, these insane stories were pretty persuasive. WatchMojo counts down the ten biggest fake news stories.
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Script written by William Regot
Top 10 Biggest Fake News Stories
These completely fabricated stories surprisingly managed to convince very large audiences. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Fake News Stories.
For this list, we’re looking at popular, viral “news” stories that were not true.
#10: Protester Was Paid To Protest Trump Rally
This article was ostensibly intended by its creator, hoax writer Paul Horner, to be a satirical piece poking fun at the popular conspiracy that protesters disrupting Trump rallies were paid large sums of money. Appearing on a fake “ABC News” website in July 2016, the story was about an Arizona man who supposedly admitted to protesting a Trump rally, earlier that March, for a 3500 dollar payday after answering a Craigslist ad. Among those who fell for the story were Trump’s son Eric and Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who both retweeted the article.
#9: Planet Nibiru Set to Destroy Earth
For years, there have been various doomsday predictions that Nibiru, also known as Planet X, was going to crash into earth, ending life on this planet as we know it. One such absurd prediction that received widespread attention was made in 2017 by numerologist David Meade, who said Nibiru would hit earth on September 23 of that year, as the fulfillment of Bible verse found in the Gospel of Luke. Despite other fake news stories that have said NASA has identified Nibiru, NASA has repeatedly stated that no such planet exists.
#8: RuPaul Accuses Trump Of Sexual Misconduct
The satirical website “World News Daily Report” ran this story where RuPaul was thrown in among Trump’s many accusers following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. According to the story, the alleged assault took place at a 1995 party that was held for the cult classic “To Wong Foo.” RuPaul, who had attended the party, was in the bathroom when Trump, who didn’t know RuPaul was a man, aggressively approached him and grabbed his private parts. When Trump found out what he was actually grabbing, he became both humiliated and infuriated. Yeah, no.
#7: Woman Poops on Boss’ Desk after Winning the Lottery
If you hate your job, winning the lottery can be a. . . liberating experience, as shown in this tale of revenge featured in the fake news website “The Valley Report.” A 41-year-old woman wins a three million dollar jackpot, greets her supervisor inside his office and then gives her two weeks notice in the form of a number two. Synergy! After the unnamed woman is arrested, she states on record how glad she was to tell off her boss in such a graphic way. Even though the article is fake, it uses a real life mugshot from an unrelated arrest.
#6: Balloon Boy
The Heene family of Fort Collins, Colorado gained lots of public attention in 2009 when the youngest child, six-year-old Falcon, was thought to be trapped in a balloon that floated miles-high up in the air for. When it was discovered that he was safe, Falcon was given the nickname “Balloon Boy.” Unfortunately, during an interview with the Heene family, Falcon accidentally let the truth slip out that the harrowing incident was fake. Both parents received jail time for the hoax, though the father, Richard, claims the weather balloon incident was entirely true.
#5: FBI Agent in Clinton Email Leaks Dies in Murder-Suicide
During the 2016 election, there was great interest in the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The Denver Guardian, a site which falsely referred to itself as “Denver’s oldest news source,” posted this article about an FBI Agent, responsible for investigating Clinton’s emails, who later killed his wife and then himself. However, it didn’t take long for the Denver Post, Denver’s biggest real-life newspaper, to expose the story and the flimsy news site as fake, including the address the Guardian gave for its location, which turned out to merely be a parking lot.
#4: Pope Francis Endorses Trump
In July 2016, the later-revealed-to-be-fake TV news station WTOE 5 broke this story of Pope Francis’s endorsement, which they claimed was a first in the history of the papacy. Given that Francis and Trump are almost complete opposites and had previously feuded over whether Trump’s border wall proposal was Christian, this story sounds ridiculous . . . but with 960,000 engagements on Facebook, it was one of the most popular fake news stories of 2016. Responding to the story in a press conference, Francis dismissed claims that he endorsed a presidential candidate, as he found faults with both Trump and his opponent Hillary Clinton. The Pope has since denounced fake news, calling it “a serious sin.”
#3: Bowling Green Massacre
To justify President Trump’s travel ban for the residents of seven Muslim-majority countries, his advisor Kellyanne Conway cited how Barack Obama tightened immigration after two Iraqis had carried out a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Conway called the incident the “Bowling Green Massacre” and chastised the media for not covering it. There’s just one problem: the “Bowling Green Massacre” never happened, and what Conway was actually supposedly referring to was a 2011 incident where two suspects were caught trying to smuggle weapons and money to al-Qaeda. Conway later claimed she misspoke. Whoopsie!
#2: Obama Bans Pledge Of Allegiance In Schools
In this utterly made-up article that ran in August 2016, President Obama signed Executive Order 13,738, forbidding any public school or any federal official from reciting the pledge of allegiance. The ostensible punishment for anyone caught saying the pledge? A fine of up to 10,000 dollars, or a maximum sentence of a year in prison. The reasons Obama gave for hating the pledge of allegiance were that he claimed it was “divisive” and “contrary to America’s deepest-held values.” According to Buzzfeed, this story had the highest Facebook engagement of any fake news story in 2016. Sigh.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a couple of (dis)honorable mentions.
Cinnamon Roll Can Explodes Inside Man’s Butt
Trump Offering Free One-Way Tickets to Africa & Mexico
When Wikileaks dumped a collection of emails belonging to Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in October 2016, Clinton opponents were hoping to find a salacious scandal. When some opponents went through the emails, they claimed they found coded messages about pizza that stood for, uh, a child sex ring. Soon after, right wing media outlets were accusing noted Washington D. C. pizza parlour Comet Ping Pong of being a hub for pedophilic sex slavery. This grotesque absurdity resulted in much harassment and eventually, a North Carolina man bringing an assault rifle into the restaurant and firing a shot. Fake news has consequences.