The Babylon Bee
The Babylon Bee is a news satire website that publishes satirical articles on religion, politics, current events, and well-known public figures. With intentional irony, the site describes itself as "the world’s best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims." It has been referred to in the media as the Christian version of The Onion.
The Babylon Bee was created by Adam Ford and was launched on March 1, 2016. In 2018, Ford sold the website to Seth Dillon, "a successful businessman who uses his resources for Kingdom purposes." In a public announcement published on his personal website, Ford cited several reasons for the sale, including his discomfort with the power wielded by social media companies like Facebook over creators and their perceived anti-conservative and anti-Christian bias. He wrote that "Facebook has the power to kill publishers, and they do, not only based on publishing techniques, but based on worldview. Just think about that."[self-published source]
At the time of the website's sale, Kyle Mann, who had been head writer since September 2016, became editor in chief. In 2019, Ethan Nicolle, creator of Axe Cop, was brought on as Creative Director.
The Babylon Bee is similar in style to The Onion, taking on the tone and format of a traditional news publication. It describes itself as "the world’s best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life."
In a Washington Post profile of the site and its founder, Bob Smietana observed that "The Bee excels at poking fun at the small idiosyncrasies of believers, especially evangelical Protestants." The purpose of the site, according to Adam Ford, is not just to evoke laughter, but to give cause for self-reflection. "It's important to look at what we're doing, to 'examine ourselves.' Satire acts like an overhead projector, taking something that people usually ignore and projecting it up on the wall for everyone to see. It forces us to look at things we wouldn't normally look at and makes us ask if we're okay with them."
The Babylon Bee has also published a book satirizing the Christian self-help industry: How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living. Founder Adam Ford retained ownership of the book when he left the company.
The satirical news articles presented by The Babylon Bee have been fact-checked by Snopes dozens of times. Some of these facts checks have been controversial. For example, in March 2018, The Babylon Bee published an article alleging that CNN was using an industrial-sized washing machine to "spin" the news. Snopes fact-checked the article, rating it "false." Facebook then cited this fact check in a warning message to The Babylon Bee, threatening to limit their content distribution and monetization. Adam Ford tweeted a screenshot of the warning message to his followers, drawing public attention to the matter. Facebook quickly apologized, with the statement that "[t]here’s a difference between false news and satire. This was a mistake and should not have been rated false in our system. It’s since been corrected and won’t count against the domain in any way."
In July 2019, Snopes rated another article from The Babylon Bee "false," but this time suggested the article was deliberately deceptive rather than genuinely satirical. Adam Ford responded on Twitter, highlighting what he deemed to be problematic wording in the fact check. The Babylon Bee also released a statement, calling the fact check a "smear" that was "both dishonest and disconcerting." The statement concluded by saying a law firm had been retained to represent The Babylon Bee because "Snopes appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us." After receiving some backlash and a formal demand letter from The Babylon Bee's attorney, Snopes made revisions to the wording of the fact check and added an explanatory editor's note.
The Bee's chief executive, Seth Dillon, appeared on Fox News to discuss the feud with Snopes. He said The Babylon Bee must take the matter seriously "because social networks, which we depend on for our traffic, have relied upon fact-checking sources in the past to determine what’s fake news and what isn’t. In cases where [Snopes] is calling us fake news and lumping us in with them rather than saying this is satire, that could actually damage us. It could put our business in jeopardy."
Snopes' co-founder David Mikkelson acknowledged to The New York Times that their fact check was poorly written, but denied trying to discredit The Babylon Bee. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Mikkelson stated: "The question you should be asking is not: 'why is Snopes addressing material from a particular site so often?' But, 'what is it about that site that makes its content trigger the fact-check threshold?'"
- "The Babylon Bee | About Us". The Babylon Bee. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
- "Christian parody site catches hellfire for mocking death of TBN founder". Fox News. 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
- Sanneh, Kelefa (2016-10-31). "The New Evangelical Moral Minority". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
- "The Sharp Sting of the 'Babylon Bee'". Washington Examiner. 2018-05-04. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
- Smietana, Bob (4 April 2016). "Fake news that's good for the soul". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- Darling, Daniel. "The Babylon Bee's Adam Ford Says the Church Needs Laughter". Christianity Today. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- Hemingway, Mark (4 May 2018). "The Sharp Sting of the 'Babylon Bee'". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
- "Christian News Satire Site Launches". The Babylon Bee. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- "I sold The Babylon Bee and am no longer running it". Adam4d.com. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
- "Christian parody site catches hellfire for mocking death of TBN founder". Fox News. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- "Fake news that's good for the soul". The Washington Post. April 4, 2016.
- Darling, Interview by Daniel. "The Babylon Bee's Adam Ford Says the Church Needs Laughter". ChristianityToday.com. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
- "the babylon bee Archives". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication". The Babylon Bee. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "FACT CHECK: Did CNN Purchase an Industrial-Sized Washing Machine to Spin News?". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "Facebook working on approach to classifying satirical news pieces". Washington Post.
- Ford, Adam (2018-03-01). "Really, Facebook??pic.twitter.com/HEtBc7C0Gz". @Adam4d. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "Facebook admits mistake in flagging satire about CNN spinning the news with a washing machine". Washington Post.
- Chokshi, Niraj (2019-08-03). "Satire or Deceit? Christian Humor Site Feuds With Snopes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- Ford, Adam (2019-07-25). "So @snopes fact-checked @TheBabylonBee again. But this time it's particularly egregious and, well, kind of disturbing". @Adam4d. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "The Babylon Bee Newsletter | Important Announcement".
- "Did a Georgia Lawmaker Claim a Chick-fil-A Employee Told Her to Go Back to Her Country?". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "A Christian Satire Site Says Fact-Checkers Are Helping De-Platform Conservatives". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
- "Let's Make Fact-Checking Even Better". Snopes.com. 2019-08-16. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
- How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living. New York: Multnomah. 2018. ISBN 978-0-7352-9152-2.