Infamous 'fact-checker' mocked for Biden's 'backwards' hard hat

 January 28, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center., the infamous left-leaning website that claims to fact-check news stories, is being mercilessly mocked online after being forced to change its own inaccurate ruling about Joe Biden wearing a hard hat backward.

The reversal came after it originally declared as "False" reports that Biden was shown wearing a hard hat "backward" in photographs Friday at a construction site in Superior, Wisconsin.

Snopes changed its ruling to true after serious pushback, posting a lengthy editor's note trying to explain itself.

We received a ton of comments in a very short time challenging our assumption that wearing a hard hat "backwards" means wearing it with the brim facing to the rear, and "forwards" means wearing it brim to the front. On the basis of that assumption, we originally rated the claim that Biden was wearing a hard hat backwards as false.

The prevailing counter-argument is that if the suspension of the hat has been purposely configured by its owner such that the bill and tightening knob are worn to the back (as was the case of the hat Biden wore), to wear that hat with the bill facing forward is, practically speaking, to wear it backwards. Therefore, it's argued, it's actually true that, in the photo op discussed below, Biden was wearing it backwards. The strap and tightening knob, which should have been behind Biden's head, were on his forehead.

A corollary to that argument is "Biden looks damn silly in any case."

We find these arguments sound. Therefore, the claim "President Joe Biden wore a hard hat backwards during a photo op with union construction workers in Superior, Wisconsin" is true, and this fact check has been re-rated as such. Thanks to all who argued on behalf of this correction."

Snopes was roasted online for its handling of the case, with comments including:

"Lmao X bullied Snopes into posting the truth."

"What happened with Snopes today is probably the best 'How it started vs how it's going' of all time."

"Never let facts get in the way of a good story."

"Well, Snopes fact checks The Babylon Bee so there you go."

"Facts were checked, but not by @snopes."

In fact, as WND reported, Snopes in 2019 actually performed "fact checks" on the popular satire site, The Babylon Bee.

The Bee published stories under such clearly satirical headlines as "California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring all Christians 'to register Bibles of all sizes, shapes, and translation version as 'assault weapons.'"

Another was "CNN invested in an industrial-sized washing machine to help their journalists and news anchors spin the news before publication."

Instead of "merely rating the article 'false,' they questioned whether our work qualifies as satire, and even went so far as to suggest that we were deliberately deceiving our readers," the Bee said in a statement from its editor, Adam Ford.

"Basically, they treated us as a source of intentionally misleading fake news, rather than as the legitimate, well-known satire publication that we are, he said.

"This is a big deal."

Ford continued: "As you know, fake news – which is distinguished from satire by its intent to mislead – was widely considered a serious issue in the last election cycle. As a result, social-media networks like Facebook began partnering with fact-checkers to try and limit the distribution of fake news on their platforms. Snopes was one of them. At one point, a piece of ours was rated 'false' by Snopes, prompting Facebook to threaten us with limitations and demonetization. We made a stink about this, and after some media attention shed light on the problem, Facebook apologized for their handling of the matter and admitted that satire is not the same as fake news."

In 2018, Joseph Farah, the editor of WND, published an in-depth column exposing the history of Snopes.

"The site was founded in 1995 by David Mikkelson and his then-wife, Barbara. The couple met in the early 1990s on a folklore-themed online message board and married before establishing Snopes," Farah wrote.

"Earlier they had posed as leaders of the 'San Fernando Valley Folklore Society,' which did not exist apart from letterhead that permitted the couple to make official-sounding inquiries about subjects that interested them. One profile described the group as 'an entity dreamed up to help make the inquiries seem more legit.' David Mikkelson explained to the Los Angeles Times in 1997: 'When I sent letters out to companies, I found I got a much better response with an official-looking organization's stationery.'"

It probably didn't represent a crime to do so, but it reveals that the very foundation of Snopes was built on a lie. Just imagine if Snopes made such a discovery in its research of another organization – if indeed it performed such research.

From the beginning, the entire Snopes fact-checking team was comprised of this husband-wife duo, with both writing their posts based entirely on secondhand internet sources, with Barbara also responsible for accounting and David the tech guru.

In the court filings, Barbara, 59, has accused her former husband, 58, of "raiding the corporate business Bardav bank account for his personal use and attorney fees" without consulting her. She claimed he embezzled $98,000 from the company over the course of four years, "which he expended upon himself and the prostitutes he hired." She alleged that her ex-husband removed thousands from their business accounts between April and June of 2016 to pay for trips for him and his "girlfriend." She said he spent nearly $10,000 on a 24-day "personal vacation" in India in 2016 and expensed a plane ticket for his girlfriend to Buenos Aires.

"He's been depleting the corporate account by spending monies from it on his personal expenses," she said in the filing.

For his part, David claimed the India visit was a legitimate business trip, that he only expensed a fraction of the costs – 22.5 percent. He explained that he was considering setting up a fact-checking website in India and wanted to get a sense of the culture. He also said he went to Buenos Aires to attend an international fact-checking conference.

Meanwhile, David wanted his salary raised from $240,000 to $360,000 – arguing that this would still put him below the "industry standards" and that he should be paid up to $720,000 a year. Writing to Barbara in an email, he said his salary "should be about 2x to 3x what it is now, I'll settle for $360K with the understanding that it's to be retroactive to the start of the year."

Barbara responded that his request was "not even in the galaxy of reasonable."

"So bitter was the dispute, that they even fell out over the arbiter they had appointed to settle disputes, meaning that Facebook's arbiter cannot even agree on its own arbiter," explained a 2016 exposé in the London Daily Mail.

The divorce settlement stipulated that David receive a salary of $240,000 a year in 2015, while both of the former couple were due to receive $20,000 a month as a draw against profits, as well as a share of any net profit the company made after those payments.

"Each party waives his or her claim upon Bardav's revenues received by Husband into his PayPal account and spent by him, accountant's fees for restating tax returns to reflect previously unreported income. ..." the settlement stipulated.

Savings, IRAS and stockholdings of well over $1.5 million were allocated to Barbara, while she renounced claim on their marital home in Calabasas, California, in return for a payment of $660,000.

David kept their joint baseball card collection, a savings account with a $1.59 million balance and other savings worth more than $300,000.

After the split, David hired Elyssa Young, now 49, as an administrative assistant at Snopes, whom he married in 2016. She is also a long-time escort and porn star who worked for decades under the name "Erin O'Bryn."

She described herself on her Twitter page as "a mature and experienced courtesan, idealist, activist & dreamer." On her escort website, she called herself "an elite and discreet companion" who "understands that while pleasure and passion may be explored in the bedroom, it is hardly the only place."

"I only accept a very limited number of new lovers because I'm only seeking long-term engagements," she wrote.

The new Mrs. Mikkelson

She charged a "non-negotiable" fee of $1,200 for four hours of "companionship and entertainment" and $5,000 for 24 hours, according to her very public website.

Young ran for the U.S. Congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian candidate in 2004, during which she handed out "Re-Defeat Bush" cards and condoms stamped with the slogan "Don't get screwed again."

"Let's face it, I am an unlikely candidate," she posted on her campaign website. "I fully admit that I am a courtesan."

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