Snopes Fact-Checks and Insinuates Motives For Satirical Article by The Babylon Bee on Rep. Erica Thomas’ Publix Incident

Internet fact checking website Snopes did not agree with an article published by satire site The Babylon Bee which satirized the recent engagement between Rep. Erica Thomas and Eric Sparkes at a Publix supermarket. Snopes responded by insinuating the article was made to purposefully spread false information.

In the article Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure’, writers for The Babylon Bee satirized Thomas’ recent unfounded allegations of racially charged hatred by changing the location of the incident to a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in an effort to highlight the over-the-top nature of Thomas’ allegations:

“Georgia state rep Erica Thomas took to social media this weekend to express her disgust and outrage at a Chick-fil-A employee’s comments to her in the restaurant’s drive-thru. According to her viral Twitter post, the black state worker claims that after saying thank you for her food, the white cashier pointed his finger at her and angrily shouted, “Go back to your country!”


Chick-fil-A immediately investigated the claim, and security footage revealed the employee, who is of Chinese descent, said nothing even remotely close to the alleged comments.

In light of the information, Thomas walked back her claim a bit. “He definitely said something to me. I initially thought it was the ‘go back to your country’ thing, but now that I think about it, it may have been ‘my pleasure.'”

This particular article drew the attention of Snopes, who quickly leapt to fact-check the satirical article and imply that The Babylon Bee was intentionally “fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story” and thus did not qualify as “satire”:

“While this real-world incident stirred up a good amount of online anger, it wasn’t quite outrageous enough for the entertainment website Babylon Bee. In an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation, this website published a fictionalized version of the story, changing the location to Chick-fil-A, a fast-food restaurant known for its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage.”

The fact-checking article by Snopes also left out key details of the incident, such as Thomas’ eventual admittance that she did not remember exactly what Sparkes had said and witness reports that Thomas was the one yelling racially charged rhetoric directed at Sparkes.

Adam Ford, founder and editor of The Babylon Bee, took issue with Snopes’ reporting, airing his grievances in an extensive Twitter thread:

After facing significant backlash for their article, Snopes edited their piece, changing their accusatory language, presenting readers with further information regarding the incident, and adding an Editor’s Note explaining the changes:

Editors’ Note: Some readers interpreted wording in a previous version of this fact check as imputing deceptive intent on the part of Babylon Bee in its original satirical piece about Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas, and that was not the editors’ aim. To address any confusion, we have revised some of the wording mostly for tone and clarity. We are in the process of pioneering industry standards for how the fact-checking industry should best address humor and satire”. 

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