New York Times Authors Totally Miss the Point on Satire

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

 

It’s almost like they’re running out of things to complain about. The New York Times recently published a piece decrying the Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site, because it supposedly peddles misinformation.

In an article titled, “How The Babylon Bee, a Right-Wing Satire Site, Capitalizes on Confusion,” they discussed the fact that the site’s satirical articles are believed to be real. Kevin Roose, the author of the piece, spoke with New York Times reporter Emma Goldberg, who previously wrote a report on the site’s founders. 

When asked why the site is doing so well, Goldberg observed, “well, they certainly don’t pull any punches. Their mantra seems to be that everything is fair game: the left, the right, Trump. And in general, on the right, swiping at Trump is considered a red line, but The Bee doesn’t seem to care.”

But then, Roose claimed that “a lot of The Babylon Bee’s most successful articles in terms of online engagement are the ones that are … less obviously satirical.”

Goldberg stated that this tendency to supposedly write pieces that are not obviously satirical has “landed them in some hot water.” 

As an example, they point to a piece published in the Bee titled, “NBA Players Wear Special Lace Collars to Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

At that point, Roose asks the critical question: “I’m wondering the extent to which being a satire site — which makes them exempt from Facebook’s fact-checking program — has allowed them to traffic in misinformation under the guise of comedy. Do you think that’s a deliberate strategy?”

Goldberg answered, noting that the alleged fact-checking site Snopes has checked some of the Bee’s articles and rated them “false.” This ignited a small controversy as Facebook used Snopes’ findings to threaten the Bee with demonetization. The company denies issuing that threat. But according to the piece, “The Bee’s founder, Adam Ford, has claimed that Snopes fact-checked them in ways that were ‘egregious,’ with standards that wouldn’t be applied to, for example, The Onion.”

She continued, noting that despite the Bee’s protestations, Snopes has “poked at the fact that their pieces can sometimes be easily mistaken for real news — which might fall on them, not their readers.” 

Roose then comments on the difficulty in writing effective satire: 

“Politics aside, it sort of speaks to the impossible nature of being a satirical site in the age of the mega-platform. Because on one hand, you’ve got to write things that are so obviously made up that they can’t reasonably be mistaken for real news, but also close enough to the truth to be funny.”

He then throws the Bee a bone, of sorts, when he asks if the Bee “is not a covert disinformation operation disguised as a right-wing satire site, and is in fact trying to do comedy, but may inadvertently be spreading bad information when people take their stories too seriously?”

But, Goldberg still had to get one last dig in. “For the most part,” she answers. “But they also seem to find it pretty funny when their content is mistaken for real news — and they’re not exactly going overboard to stop that.”

Okay, so here’s the real deal. Yes, it is incredibly challenging to write satire in the age of Trump. I haven’t written a satirical piece in ages, although I still post satirical tweets because I just can’t help myself. 

However, it is not the “age of the mega-platform” that makes it difficult to write decent satire. It is the fact that progressives have become so devastatingly insane that it is hard to come up with a piece of content that is exaggerated enough that it cannot possibly be taken seriously. 

Remember when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers engaged in that pathetic virtue-signaling display where they knelt while wearing kente cloths? They were supposedly trying to show that they care about black folks. 

In response, I tweeted: 

As you can see from the comments, most people knew I was joking, but plenty actually thought this happened. Why? Because everyone knows that the Democrats are just twisted enough to do something like this. 

Unfortunately, there are too many visible progressives who engage in all kinds of over-the-top ridiculous behavior, which means I would have to go absolutely nuts in a post to ensure that readers know I’m being humorous. This is why so many take The Babylon Bee seriously. Some just don’t have a sense of humor. But others are just overexposed to leftist lunacy on a daily basis that it’s not hard to imagine that the NBA would have its players wear special lace collars for RBG. 

If things ever calm down on the left, satire will become much easier. But even still, the attacks that progressives have launched on the Bee are absurd; These people are fully aware that its writers are not deliberately trying to spread disinformation. The reality is that people like the authors of the New York Times piece don’t like to see conservatives using humor effectively. After all, this is an area in which the right has always failed. 

For this reason, they do not take issue with publications like The Onion. It has nothing to do with the spread of disinformation and everything to do with political ideology. Unfortunately for the left, content consumers can easily tell the difference and will continue to frequent the site. Who doesn’t want to see a satire site take on progressivism and conservatism at the same time?

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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