The New York Times finally agreed Monday to remove references to the satirical site The Babylon Bee as a “far-right misinformation site” after the Bee accused the newspaper of malice and threatened legal action.
“This is huge,” Bee CEO Seth Dillon tweeted Monday. “The NY Times was using misinformation to smear us as being a source of it. That’s not merely ironic; it’s malicious. We pushed back hard and won.”
The disagreement between the newspaper and the humor site dates back to March 21 when The Times published a story about Facebook’s struggle to separate satire and true stories or cartoons.
The Times only identified by name The Babylon Bee, calling it a site that “sometimes trafficked in misinformation.”
The article was but one of many and came as The Babylon Bee and other conservative sites, podcasters and influencers find themselves often clashing with social media gatekeepers and media “fact checkers” that object to a conservative, Christian outlook, Mr. Dillon said.
In the debate over social media’s power, conservatives and some libertarians have accused Facebook and Twitter of censoring views or news that diverges from the liberal narrative.
Those claims escalated during the November 2020 presidential campaign when the two giant platforms banned any mention of stories in The New York Post outlining questionable business arrangements between Hunter Biden and outfits in Ukraine and China while his father, then-vice president, had been the pointman on policy during the Obama administration.
The Bee, which was launched in 2016, bills itself as “fake news you can trust.” It has more than 975,000 Twitter followers and more than 20,000 paid subscribers.
“Incredibly, the NY Times is publishing deceptive disinformation for the purpose of leading people falsely believe we are a source of it,” Mr. Dillon tweeted on March 21.
After Mr. Dillon demanded a correction, The Times offered an updated version of the story that said the Bee and Snopes.com had “feuded” about whether it had crossed the “misinformation” line, but in fact Snopes.com had retracted its earlier posts and there was no dispute.
The Times’ continued refusal to either drop all reference to the Bee in the story or acknowledge the error prompted the Bee’s legal counsel to write The Times on June 2 demanding a retraction.
On Monday, Times counsel Dana Green said the reference to the Bee would be scrubbed and the online story updated.
“We have carefully reviewed the concerns raised in your letter and, in response to those concerns, we have removed the reference to The Babylon Bee and appended a correction,” Ms. Green wrote.
While The Times offered no apology or regret, Mr. Dillon he is happy to end this latest battle.
“Am I satisfied? That’s a good question,” he told The Washington Times. “For now, I’m just appreciating the fact that they’ve acknowledged their egregious errors by removing them.”
• James Varney can be reached at email@example.com.
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