How to Generate Fake News by Frank J. Fleming

Give a Warm ATH welcome (which does not mean start talking advarks and dragons, guys!) to comedic genius Frank Fleming, who is here to teach us how to write fake news. And you know he knows how to, since he keeps getting fact checked* by Snopes, Facebook, and other organizations which have had their sense of humor ablated at formation (*But not on Occasional Cortex getting her head stuck in a bucket. That’s self-obviously true. She wsa probably looking for her brain.)- SAH

How to Generate Fake News by Frank J. Fleming

Hi, it’s me, Frank J. Fleming from The Babylon Bee (and writer of novels such as Superego: Fathom, now available on Audible. Since I write for a Christian, conservative satire site and Christians and conservatives don’t know how to be funny, the main point of our satire is to trick people into thinking it’s real, i.e., to make fake news.

Fake news is great! It helps you get traffic for your website or tilt an election at the behest of the Russians who are funding you. But you’re probably wondering: How can I make fake news? Being an expert, I am here to share some tips that will trick everyone.

TIPS FOR MAKING FAKE NEWS

Include real details. One of the important features of fake news is that it sounds real. That means you include details that are true. For instance, let’s say you start an article this way:

President Trump today set fire to a…

People will read that and say to themselves, “The president is Trump! This could be a real story!”

Or if you start a story with:

Today in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, escaped llamas...

People will google that and say, “Hey, Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States. The rest of this story could be true as well!”

But if you get a detail wrong that people know, that could ruin the whole ruse. For example, if you wrote:

Boron, which has a melting point of 2,113 degrees Kelvin…

Someone could say, “Hey, Boron has a melting point of 2,349 degrees Kelvin! What is this guy trying to pull? Maybe the rest of this article about Russians putting a mind-control device in Kamala Harris is wrong as well.”

Write to people’s biases. A key to fake news is to have it be something people would like to be true based on what they already think about certain political figures. Let’s say you’re writing for people who think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is stupid. Then you could write some fake news like:

Today, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got her head stuck inside a bucket and ran into a wall.

And the people who don’t like Ocasio-Cortez will say to themselves, “That does sound like something she would do, as she is very brain-stupid. This news checks out, and I will not doubt it.”

On the other hand, people who like Ocasio-Cortez will say, “This can’t be true! She is the world’s smartest socialist. Something seems awry with this news. And if it is true, I’m certain Ocasio-Cortez had a very smart reason for putting her head inside a bucket so it would get stuck. I’m going to research this and look for other verification.”

This partisan divide is why it’s hard to trick all the people all the time with fake news. I dream of a day when this nation is less divided and I can constantly fool everyone.

Be sensational but not too sensational. One of the main reasons for fake news is to generate lots of buzz and traffic, and thus it has to be something people will want to share and write angry tweets about. For instance, I could write this:

Today, President Trump bought a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

And that’s total fake news. I just made that up. I don’t even know if that’s his favorite flavor of Doritos. But no one is going to share that fake news, because who cares.

But you can go too far in the other direction. Let’s say I wrote fake news like this:

Today, President Trump nuked France.

Now, that’s some sensational news people will want to share. But they’ll also think to themselves, “Hey, that’s pretty big news. Shouldn’t everyone be talking about this and I didn’t just find out about it on some news site I’ve never heard of before?”

So you have to tone it down some. Like:

Today, President Trump nuked Micronesia.

No one even knows where that is. Could be true!

Don’t have the letters “CNN” above your news. That is now a dead giveaway for being fake news. You need to come up with some other made-up news organization name, like “Totally Real News.”

Well, those are my tips for making fake news to generate lots of traffic. So go out there and tilt an election or cause chaos. And check out my science fiction novel Superego: Fathom, now on Audible. It’s totally true, and none of it is made up.

122 thoughts on “How to Generate Fake News by Frank J. Fleming

  1. “In the news today, President Trump failed to specifically denounce alien invasions, raising the possibility that he might betray the human race to the Xargon Imperium if reelected . . .”

      1. Ed Nisley of Softsolder dot com used the Sheryl Canter flaxseed seasoning technique, then did some run-time modifications (takes a few minutes after use). See https://softsolder.com/2016/11/07/cast-iron-pan-seasoning-low-woo-results/

        Follow links in that article back to the Sheryl Canter original if you don’t have it already.

        Haven’t used it; I use olive oil for my 2x/week potatoes/omelettes and rinse the pan, then wipe with a paper towel before everything cools off. YMMV–I suspect this could get as many strong opinions as the right shotgun load for self defense. 🙂

        1. Well, I sure as shootin’ wouldn’t use flax seed oil to season my buckshot. That would just be stupid!

        2. I prefer 00 buckshot, although there’s not a big difference between that an single 0 shot. 000 is noticeable bigger diameter, meaning you can’t get as many pellets in a shell. Of course you could go to a three inch shell for those; but that limits your market. On the other hand, if you own a Remington MODEL 870 DM MAGPUL, who cares what the market is?

          1. KSG to AR pistol myself. More rounds (though fewer projectiles) with a bit less punishment on my shoulder. Also I’m able to use it one handed if need be, while racking a pump one handed is rather challenging.

      2. No, don’t! I did the whole schlemiel. Not too long after you beautifully season that wonderfully smooth cast iron, any buildup of polymers (sounds like appropriate word) will start flaking off the pan. Especially away from the center of the pan, where they don’t build up anyway, and if you cook steamy for a minute or two under a lid. Until, eventually, all the buildup disappears and a nicely seasoned pan appears.
        I say: Use pork grease, clean new pan fiercely, oil completely, wipe free of visible oil, bake it at high oven for half an hour, cool, Do that once more on range to the pan’s cooking surface. Cool, clean, cook. Stay away from soap, and try not to burn things too much for a while.

  2. “Unidentified sources within the Biden campaign confirmed that when presented with news of President Trump’s positive test results for the SARS2 coronavirus, former Vice-President Biden responded, ‘Heeeeeeey macarena!'”

      1. With the internet, you’re never too old to learn about something new! On the other hand, you might still be too old to realize that it isn’t a “thing” anymore…

      2. He must have been at the 1996 Democratic national convention, where they did the Macarena on live TV. He wasn’t even the worst dancer there given that “Al Gore doing the Macarena” has been cited in academic literature as the most embarrassing thing ever.

          1. Admittedly the citation in question dates from the early 2000s, prior to any idiocy prompted by the current virus panic. I do not believe that there have been any NSF-funded studies of Gore’s Macarena vs. Lightfoot’s would-be superhero.

        1. Yes, there’s Al Gore.
          But for cringe, I still have to go with the large contingent of Japanese tourists on Saipan (late 2000) in a glass-walled ballroom, trying to do it. Must have been 50-60 of them. I almost fell over laughing.

    1. This is fake news. Gropey Slow Joe finally came down off his debate-enhancing-drug-cocktail high, and as a result he’s sitting there fascinated by the motes of dust in his basement, occasionally muttering “shut up, man.”

      The Biden called a campaign event “lid” for the day at 7:03am eastern time, oddly an hour before the first previously scheduled public event.

      1. Do they call it a “lid” on Biden’s campaign because once he’s smoked that much he’s through for the day?

    2. I like mine with ham and cheddar cheese,
      Or chili and onions if you please.
      Whipping up some dinner is a breeze-
      Heeey, Macaroni . . .

  3. It wasn’t Trump who nuked Micronesia,it was Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy who nuked Micronesia, repeatedly.

    Therefore I give this story a Fake News rating.

      1. Which one? All the Voices want to return is Al Sleet, the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman, with all the hippy-dippy weather, man.

        “Tonight’s forecast, dark, continued dark tonight, turning to partly light in the morning. “

        1. You realize that Carlin’s “Indian Drill Sergeant” bit would be right out, a hate crime on two levels: mocking our First Nation victims and homophobia.

          “Ain’t you the guy with the beads, get out of line, would you bub!”

  4. “Today, three foreign leaders endorsed Trump’s plan…”

    Aw, who cares what Germany, France, and Spain do.

    “Today three foreign leaders criticized Trump’s plan to…”

    If Germany, France, and Spain don’t like it, we shouldn’t be doing it!

          1. Nah, even that’s not a protection. Those who cheer when low-income housing burns down scream for the police when the arsonists come near THEM.

        1. Only because the highly illegal and unethical surveillance of Top Bee Spies is inadmissable as evidence in United States court systems. In Botswana, the Bee is the emprical standard of absolute, capital “T” Truth and used as a guideline for aspiring soothsayers to aspire to.

  5. The Bee is a national treasure. Of course numerous of its posts have turned into not just mere prophecy, but spoilers 🙂

    On the supposedly “serious” news front, I just tend to take whatever the Democratic Party and their media arm say and treat it as projection, as they try to compel us to adhere to the principles of Ingsoc and only use the approved words of the Newspeak dictionary.

    1. The Bee is a national treasure. Of course numerous of its posts have turned into not just mere prophecy, but spoilers


      I’m beginning to thing The Bee has a Seer’s on their payroll … They are writing while watching the future play in a crystal ball.

        1. True story: I was randomly touring the Australian outback using Streetview, and what did I find?

          …a TARDIS. I shit you not.

          (Well, at least it was labeled “TARDIS”. Lacking a remote control, I had no way to test whether it was in working order; it could have used some fresh paint.)

          1. A house about fifteen minutes away from mine had a Tardis on its front porch. As far as I could tell, it was there all the time, but y’know, that was just as far as I could tell…

            1. Being an American, I had a few WTF moments when I encountered Doctor Who in the 1980s. It took another decade and some before I got learned why “POLICE” was painted on the Porta-Potti…

                1. Wandered across Dr Who in the 80s, when Jon Pertwee was the Docor. I watched an episode and said, “What the- that’s awful!” Tuned in again to see if it might improve, wandered off thinking it hadn’t…but found myself coming back until I was sorry when it disappeared.

                  At that point the production values were somewhere south of “abysmal,” and the stories were way out there, but they played them with the utter conviction that’s the only way to carry something like that off.

                  Have not watched it for years and years. From what I read, I’d hate the current version.

                  1. Watching the new series, I was noticing the effect of a bigger budget: more extras (convincing crowd scenes!), better sets, fantastically better effects (that’s plus technology marching on), better scripted stories.

                    But they had a lot less fun.

                    1. Yes. The sense of wonder went out when the US-style effects and budget came in. Then they started adding PC and Woke sub-themes and I quit.

              1. why “POLICE” was painted on the Porta-Potti
                ROFLMAO
                (That would be a darned comfortable Porta-Potti! Even from the outside it’s bigger than standard.)

            2. Used to be a couple in Manchester, NH. One on Hanover Street just past Lake Drive. May have been operational. Other one was on the side of the Londonderry Turnpike just south of exit 1 off Rt 101. I don’t think that one was operational as I could see right through it (of course that might just be the camo program was working properly, in which case I was seriously wrong.)

              1. The roof of the Project House has a hipped section that goes out over the porch. The roofer showed it was no longer actually attached to the house, just sort of balanced on some flimsy posts. I’ve mostly reattached with steelwork, and I need to address the problem of the posts.

                The Voices have noted that I could replace the south corner post with a full-scale TARDIS, which could replace the big steel job box I had bolted to the slab for package deliveries as well as doubling as a roof support.

                Hmm…

    1. Like the mathematical concept of the limit, the supply of fake news will ever approach but never quite meet demand so long as there are leftists alive that require it, like air, to exist. Should the supply of fake news dwindle, the population would fall to critical levels. Thus Wildlife resource management has continued to support CNN, MSNBC, etc in order to keep population levels from dropping below critical levels.

      There can be no other logical explaination.

    2. MSNBC and CNN have 24 hours each to fill, but CNNI is out there and the NTY, WP, etc.

      After all, you got to be able to supply articles like this: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-young-men-of-color-are-joining-white-supremacist-groups

      Why Young Men of Color Are Joining White-Supremacist Groups

      Patriot Prayer’s leader is half-Japanese. Black and brown faces march with the Proud Boys. Is the future of hate multicultural?

      Outfitted in a flak jacket and fighting gloves, Enrique Tarrio was one of dozens of black, Latino, and Asian men who marched alongside white supremacists in Portland on Aug. 4.

      Tarrio, who identifies as Afro-Cuban, is president of the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys, who call themselves “Western chauvinists,” and “regularly spout white-nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last month, prior to the Patriot Prayer rally he attended in Portland, Tarrio was pictured with other far-right activists making a hand sign that started as a hoax but has become an in-joke. Last year, Tarrio said traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the Unite the Right rally that ended with a neo-Nazi allegedly killing an anti-fascist protester. (The Proud Boys said any members who went to the event were kicked out.)

      1. Well, I too am a Western chauvinist.
        I do believe Western civilization is superior when measure by the number of people who DON’T die of starvation.
        White? What the fuck does that have with being able to tan? These people are insane.

        1. I’m still trying to figure out how a group that has a significant percentage of non-white members and a non-white leader can be ‘white supremacist’.

          Oh, right, Orwell’s fascism quote applies.

          1. As I recall, according to the government approved experts of the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History (and to the author of White Fragility), Western Civ does equal white.

            I’ve a chart explaining that somewhere about ….

      2. > White Supremacist

        trans: “not Antifa or BLM”

        > hate

        trans: “not actively proclaiming agreement with current Antifa and BLM narrative”

        “It’s English, Jim, but not as we know it.”

      3. So, the White Supremacists are black, and Black Lives Matter is a bunch of white upper-class twits.

        That’s 2020 all over.

      4. Enrique Tarrio was one of dozens of black, Latino, and Asian men who marched alongside white supremacists
        This is, I think, what psychologists would call “avoidance”. Literally denying the facts you’re actually recording because they don’t fit your pre-conceived notions.

        (And speIl-chucker in my browser is just amazing. It says “pre-conceived” must be a mis-spelling, then offers the following ‘correct’ options: per-conceived, ore-conceived, pee-conceived, pr-conceived, and re-conceived. Really?)

  6. During second presidential debate, Biden begins reply to moderators question with, “Now don’t repeat this, Joe, just say the following in a serious tone of voice…” Trump can be seen shouting into a dead mic, and heard distantly through Biden’s mic saying, “See, how can you handlers think you can control him when he can’t even follow simple instructions!”

    1. Ah, you too encountered the closeup of Gropin’ Joe adjusting his wire… Bombard had some good observations regarding his too-blank aspect. (The dilated eyes, tho… I noticed that AFTER I said… he’s on something.)

  7. Give a Warm ATH welcome (which does not mean start talking advarks and dragons, guys!)

    Oh, but the dragons give the warmest welcomes of all…

    Today in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, escaped llamas…

    You can’t stop there! I want to know what the llamas were up to! It could be something like, “…And started nibbling every member of congress, vowing not to stop until at least 30 useless laws were repealed.”

  8. If you’ve read Norman Spinrad’s “The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde”, you keep waiting for bits to fall off Biden.

    There’s only so much you can do with enbalming and animatronics, after all…

  9. My respect to you, Frank. It is getting harder and harder to lampoon these guys, and you keep pounding away.

    I think the Dems read the Bee for ideas these days. I really do.

    1. I think the Dems read the Bee for ideas these days. I really do.


      Well that would explain the apparent existence of working Crystal Balls or a Tardis. Also believable.

    2. Perhaps the Bee should indulge in a copyright violation suit. Not the Bee could report on it.

      1. If done right, that could induce an infinite loop in the major media (and Newsweek) operations!
        Oh, we need this. It could reset America back to factory settings!

  10. Serious political forecasting: this Trump covid thing may turn the corner on the panic.

    Unserious political forecasting: Prominent Republican to denounce Trump on grounds that such a focus on building targets over building weapons is evidence of a profoundly disturbed mind.

    Pure trolling political ‘forecasting’: Americans to realize the prosecution’s burden of proof, and lawyers who lack the confidence in the legal system to cheerfully watch felons be executed, imply that we should shift the responsibility to vigilantes, and assume that they are doing something right.

      1. On the one hand, we have Trump.

        A man who has had multiple wives and divorces, is a complete ass whenever he feels like it, owned at least one casino, etc, etc. Yet is doing all the things that needed to be done long ago.

        On another hand we have “Erin Smith” a transwoman who does all sorts of semi-questionable activism (from a legal and queensbury rules perspective at least). Yet has provided vital intel on antifa, and is known to have been part of a group that baited out and sabotaged antifa activities.

        I’m almost tempted to suggest that Conservatives are being handed victory, but from sources they specifically reviled as punishment for listening to the Church Karens too much….

        1. May I say? This is how He plots.
          He picks the most unlikely warriors and then makes them serve. He glories in it.
          Look, I know you won’t believe this, but I hate conflict and confrontation. And look what I’m doing.

          1. *This.* Himself hands out tasks with special care. Those He chooses to work His will are quite often those on the face of things most unsuited for the task. In taking up these heavy burdens they grow and change in ways they could never imagine.

            I’ve no particular knowledge of *why* it happens. Just that it does happen. Perhaps sometimes the place you least want to go is the place you need to be the most.

          2. If I may:

            Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

            For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.

            Thank Himself, too, because we would make an awful dogs breakfast of it if we tried.

            1. Who’d have guessed that an impulsive bunch of fiery-tempered fishermen would end up his Beloved Apostles?

        2. Given how many anti-Trumpers have harped on his past adultery, it amuses me that the ONLY one of the four people on the two major tickets to not have been involved in an extra-marital affair is Vice-President Pence.

          And yet they still keep harping on Trump’s past adultery.

    1. That smells like disinformation.

      Antifa has no chain of command? Those “people you live and work with and trust and know in real life” don’t spontaneously decide to dress in black and go out and break stuff. All groups including Antifa need leaders and organizers. Somebody has to recruit people and enforce discipline. I bet the leaders have a chain of command.

      Antifa is also known for busing people long distances (across countries in Europe) to take part in riots. That’s centralized planning.

      1. The article notes two distinct groups. There are actual black bloc cells. These would be the ones that are bussed in, and the ones that handle the logistics and organizing.

        And then there are those who respond to the open invitation to just show up and participate. These are more like groupies, and will probably be sacrificed if a given demonstration manages to draw the type of violent response that Antifa is hoping for.

        It’s likely that the actual chain of command is quite well-hidden, and only visible to those with a need to know.

    2. [posting again because my previous comment disappeared]

      That smells like disinformation.

      I don’t believe that Antifa has no chain of command. Those “people you live and work with and trust and know in real life” don’t spontaneously decide to dress in black and go out and break stuff. They need leaders and organizers to recruit people and enforce discipline and so on. I bet those have a chain of command.

      Antifa is also known for busing people long distances (across countries in Europe) to take part in riots. That’s centralized planning.

  11. Two things:

    1. The correct expression is 2,349 Kelvin. Using ‘X degrees Kelvin’ makes scientists laugh at you.

    2. AOC probably is outstandingly smart, for a socialist.

    1. No, even for a socialist, AOC is dumb. All she can do is recite the incantations her sloven* taught her.

      (* I’m coining a term for a group of socialist cultists, here. Witches = coven. Socialists = sloven. I think it sounds better than “soviet”.)

  12. “News” is a media product. The purpose is to get you to purchase it, or, if it is funded by one form of advertising or another, to get you to click on it, or to entice you to register for a news site so your data can be sold.

    No matter the partisan lean of the source, any relation between the story and the facts is tangential. In principle, there would be people who would notice whether a story source is more or less accurate, but that is currently a small enough part of the media audience as to be unimportant in marketing decisions. You’d lose more clicks by checking your facts than you’d pick up, and you’d increase the costs of your organization with no corresponding increase in revenue.

    I’m not actually sure if it was *ever* true that “news” corresponded to reality; it seemed to back in the days of media oligopoly, but that may simply have been a lack of competing products to catch the errors. But if there ever was such a time, it is long past. I suspect that when most towns lost multiple competing newspapers, any financial incentive to “get the story right” was lost, and since that was more than a generation back, any lingering habit of doing so has died out.

    1. Jeff — though Frank makes a good point about how the left produces “news” — I can tell you, having been in the middle of Earth shattering events….
      They were either ignored or completely distorted in the “news.”

      1. The “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” is certainly a workable hypothesis.

        On the other hand, I’ve had some pretty good experiences with ‘trade press’ where a reporter on, for example, the semiconductor industry, or the commercial space industry, will work hard to get the story right. Even then, it is never perfect, but it’s often really close. Within a specific domain, one begins to recognize bylines and which reporters tend to do a good job. So I have to accept that within the trade press, actual journalism exists.

    2. I suspect that when most towns lost multiple competing newspapers, any financial incentive to “get the story right” was lost
      Very much this. Combined with the religion of progressivism, we got … CNN/NYT/USAToday.

      1. When I was doing a lot of archival research, I lived finding a town with a galdfly newspaper. You know, the small one that only printed two-three days a week, and that printed any and every story and opinion that the local Powers That Were didn’t like or wouldn’t put up with? I’d read the main paper(s) for the official news and city government announcements, then go to the gadfly-paper and see what the outsiders or opposition thought. It was very, very useful for me the historian.

    3. “But if there ever was such a time, it is long past.”

      Having been a part of, witness to, or having expert knowledge of, oh, *several* events that ended up in the news… Not a single one of them passed the smell test.

      Not. One.

      Whether it was outright inverted facts, perverted slant, or picking one tiny part of the whole and misrepresenting that while presenting said gobbledegook as the whole itself, none of them reported anything more than 20% of an accurate depiction of the event in question, at best.

      As near as I can tell, the end product you get is whatever supports whichever narrative the author of said piece wants to push. It isn’t news. It’s opinion dressed as news, demanding your respect. And slanted, poorly formed opinion at that, most of the time.

  13. A few months ago, CNN supposedly got a quote from some retired general (after all, a voice on the phone could be anybody) warning that Trump was going to stop the riots with atomic bombs.

    Might be the most perfect fake news story yet.

  14. Frank wrote “A Realistic Plan for World Peace a.k.a Nuke the Moon,” which turns out to have been proposing the official US government Project A119 from 1958. Now he’s moved to the Bee, where they are struggling to keep satire ahead of reality. The more things change, the more we should punch our inner hippies.

    Also, everybody knows where Micronesia is, it’s right next to Macronesia.

    Always a pleasure to read Frank.

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