An AFP journalist looks at websites that are part of Christopher Blair’s “America’s Last Line of Defense” network in Washington, D,C, on Feb, 13, 2020. (AFP / Eric Baradat)
W.G. Dunlop | AFP
February 16, 2020
Christopher Blair says he knows what to write for his right-wing “target audience” through years of “being embedded in their world”
Says he previously tried to debate conservatives online, with little successso he turned to “trolling for a good laugh”
WASHINGTON: Christopher Blair produces false stories he insists are easily identifiable as satire rather than news. His pages can rack up millions of views, and at least part of that audience believes the material is true.
Blair, 48, runs eight websites and five Facebook pages from his home in the northeastern US state of Maine. He says the claims his articles make are “ridiculous,” such as that President Donald Trump’s current term could be extended by three years.
But his content is widely shared by people who take it as fact, contributing to the spread of false information online.
Blair — a self-described “liberal troll” and political activist — says he knows what to write for his right-wing “target audience” through years of “being embedded in their world.”
He does not hold that audience in high regard.
“They live on… fear and hate and misinformation and very specific storylines that everybody knows aren’t true except for them,” he told AFP.
His content is rife with disclaimers: Satire. Fake news fact-check. Nothing on this page is real.
If someone clicks through to Blair’s articles, instead of instantly sharing them based on a headline, the warnings are visible.
But often, it appears that people do not.
Asked why people believe and share the articles, Blair answers: “Confirmation bias.”
“These people are told that they’re sharing satire, and it doesn’t matter,” he says. “The truth is no longer important to them. All they care about is holding on to their hate and fear.”
The spread of false information is a significant problem in the run-up to the 2020 US elections, but Blair says his readers’ minds are already made up, and that his content is “not going to impact the vote.”
Trolling for a good laugh
Blair says he previously tried to debate conservatives online, with little success.
“You just get called names and told that you hate America,” he says.