A popular Christian satire site has gotten one of the most influential mainstream newspapers in the nation to retract its characterization of it as a purveyor of “misinformation.”
The New York Times published a correction last week on a March 19 article after the attorneys representing The Babylon Bee threatened legal action over a report claiming that the satire website was a “far-right misinformation site." Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon considered the reference “defamatory.”
The article titled “For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony” accused Babylon Bee of trafficking misinformation under the guise of satire.
The piece explained how the artificial intelligence systems and even human moderators for social media giants like Facebook cannot always detect the difference between satirical jesting and false information given how common irony and satire are in everyday speech.
Because of this, it resulted in The Babylon Bee and the work of cartoonists being incorrectly labeled as “misinformation” or hate speech.
When the article mentioned The Babylon Bee, it hyperlinked to a Snopes fact-check item, which now contains a revision indicating that some readers misinterpreted the fact-check of a Babylon Bee article as saying that that satire site was being deliberately deceptive.
Also, in the context of The Babylon Bee, The New York Times linked to a piece in The Conversation that had been posted on Snopes called “Study: Too Many People Think Satirical News is Real." The article was heavily focused on how political conservatives are not able to distinguish satire from actual news.
The official correction on the March 19 New York Times article reads:
“An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical website, and a controversy regarding the handling of its content by Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes. While both Facebook and Snopes previously have classified some Babylon Bee articles as misinformation, rather than satire, they have dropped those claims, and the Babylon Bee denies that it has trafficked in ‘misinformation.’”
The correction was not the first iteration as a previous version of the update to the article — which was issued on March 22 and documented by Not the Bee — stated that the satire site had feuded with fact-checking website Snopes and Facebook over whether they were satire or misinformation. But leaders at The Babylon Bee took issue with the wording of the update.
Not the Bee is the humor-based news, opinion and entertainment site from the original creators of The Babylon Bee that features absurd and humorous news that happened but seems satirical.
Dillon said in a statement that The New York Times correction is “huge."
“The NY Times was using misinformation to smear us as being a source of it," Dillon tweeted. "That’s not merely ironic; it’s malicious. We pushed back hard and won. Thanks to everyone who voiced and offered their support. We don’t have to take this nonsense lying down. Remember that."
The satire site published an article Tuesday humorously titled “New York Times Forced To Admit Babylon Bee Not Fake News Since Stories Keep Coming True.”
"‘We are sorry we called The Babylon Bee misinformation,’ the Times wrote on its corrections page. ‘After further review, it's clear The Babylon Bee is reporting real news just a few days ahead of time. The stories just keep coming true,’" the satire article joked.