As we blogged Sunday, there’s a whole sect out there attempting to blame fake news sites for Hillary’s electoral failure.

Facebook responded to complaints about fake news sites, as did Google.

In an attempt to distinguish fake or misleading news sites from legit sources, Melissa Zimdars, Assistant Professor of Communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, created a list of, “false, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources.” The LA Times published the list.

Sites like the The Onion and Clickhole, satirical news sites made the cut, and rightly so, but also included were The Blaze, Independent Journal Review (IJR), Project Veritas (James O’Keefe), Twitchy, and RedState. None of the latter are fake nor misleading, nor clickbait-y, nor satirical, and most of them engage in original reporting from time to time.

One person’s opinion on the matter wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) make much of a difference. But by publishing the (mostly) bogus list, the LA Times gave it legitimacy. It’s now being circulated through social media channels as the authoritative list on “real” news.

Professor Zimdars categorized the sites as follows:

CATEGORY 1: Below is a list of fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. These websites are categorized with the number 1 next to them.

CATEGORY 2: Some websites on this list may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, and they are marked with a 2.

CATEGORY 3: Other websites on this list sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions, and they are marked with a 3.

CATEGORY 4: Other sources on this list are purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news. I’m including them here, for now, because 1.) they have the potential to perpetuate misinformation based on different audience (mis)interpretations and 2.) to make sure anyone who reads a story by The Onion, for example, understands its purpose. If you think this is unnecessary, please see Literally Unbelievable.

The only one of the above mentioned sites that currently has a category is RedState, marked as a 3. The rest are on the list without current explanation as to why they were included, though Zimdar indicated she would be updating the list and explained not all sites listed were considered fake.

I will be updating the categorizations and adding links gradually through the next couple of days.
Many of the websites on this list continue to offer valuable journalism and/or satirical commentary. For example, a website included on this list wrote an overall thoughtful piece about the list, but the headline suggests that every source on this list is fake, which misrepresents the list. Finally, I do not condone plug-ins that automatically block any of the websites listed below. And as a reminder, not all of the sources listed below should be considered fake.

Juxtapose Zimdar’s statement to the LA Times headline:


Zimdar’s view is myopic and misleading in itself. She explained in an update that she trusts major outlets, seemingly neglecting that most of the conservative blogs she’s included draw from those outlets she trusts and provide greater context to the story, or, (like us), their work is frequently linked to by the sources she claims she trusts.

Kira Davis, writing for RedState was not impressed by the LA Times‘ work nor Zimdar’s list:

In fact, RedState writers go to great lengths to debunk false stories they find in the media. RedState has produced some of the top conservative talents, including former Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson, and regularly features articles submitted by members of the House and Senate and from presidential candidates. The RedState Gathering is covered by major media, and has top caliber speakers and was even the site of the announcement of a Presidential campaign (Rick Perry.) RedState content is regularly featured in the mainstream press and has been quoted frequently by even such old-school journalism outlets as The New York Times many times this year alone.

IJReview is based in Washington D.C. and has a very strong and lucrative relationship with Facebook, even teaming up with the social media behemoth to produce one of the primary debates. Their reputation on Capitol Hill is well-known, and politicians and high-profile media personalities regularly contribute guest posts.

The Blaze provides a lot of opinion pieces some people like Zimdars might disagree with, but they most certainly do not post ‘fake news’ or even misleading headlines. MSNBC regularly produces sensational headlines that aren’t backed up by the research but funny enough; they are nowhere on this list. No mainstream liberal reporting agency is on this list.

Zimdars’ list is making the rounds today, and it is outrageous. She needs to put herself on her list, as it is salacious and irresponsible and just a click-bait piece. The L.A.Times needs to be on this list for publishing it! Shame on you all.

Zimdars’ lack of perspective is dangerous. It affects the lives of good, hardworking writers who excel at bringing the latest news and opinion to their readers. This is not a game; this is our livelihood.

It’s a wonder people don’t trust the media…

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.