The inclusion of Snopes, an amateurish unprofessional site in the middle of an endless scandal, in the ranks of the media’s fact checking mafia was always bound to backfire. And the backfire has been burning for a while.
Here’s the Daily Mail pieces on the almost unbelievable dysfunction inside the fake fact checking site.
Fact-checking website Snopes is on the verge of financial collapse after its owner was accused of embezzling company funds to pay for his contentious divorce battle and lavish overseas trips with his new wife, a former Las Vegas escort and porn actress.
The company’s financial woes have gotten so bad that Snopes’ owner David Mikkelson started a crowd-funding website pleading for donations this week, which raised over $500,000 from generous readers in its first day.
After the presidential election, Snopes was chosen by Facebook to sit on a panel of arbiters who would determine whether news stories posted to the social media site were ‘fake news.’
But at the same time, DailyMail.com revealed in December, the two co-founders were involved in a bitter divorce battle in which he was accused of embezzling nearly $100,000 in company funds to spend on personal expenses and prostitutes.
Barbara asked a court at the time to restrict Mikkelson’s bank access, claiming his wild spending was going to deplete the company’s accounts.
Court documents from their divorce and its aftermath revealed that he wanted to be paid $720,000 a year.
He is also accused of spending ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ on personal trips, including a honeymoon with his new wife to Tokyo Disneyland.
The lawsuit claims Mikkelson spent money on Young, who he married last year.
Young was an escort in Las Vegas up until at least 2015 and charged $500 per hour, according to her website.
She has also starred in adult films under the name ‘Erin O’Bryn,’ and ran unsuccessfully for congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004.
Now the meltdown at Snopes is continuing, as reported by Poynter, which pretends to care about journalism, but was cheerfully promoting Snopes’ fundraiser without telling its readers the full truth of the fake fact check company’s problems.
First, Brooke Binkowski was burned out.
Then, she was told that she had been fired because of some unspecified complaints.
Finally, they said they were eliminating her position altogether.
So by the time that Snopes co-founder and CEO David Mikkelson called her last Monday to say she was fired, Binkowski didn’t know what to believe.
“I honestly have no idea,” the former Snopes managing editor told Poynter. “I was given no hints. I was never written up for anything.”
Binkowski said her firing is just the latest thing she doesn’t know about how Snopes works. Last summer, after Snopes started raising money for a legal battle over the site’s ownership, Binkowski said she wasn’t included in financial discussions.
Snopes’ GoFundMe had raised more than $835,000, as of publication — not including the amount raised from a separate PayPal account. While Snopes, one of the oldest and most-read fact-checking projects in the world, discloses other sources of funding on its website, the PayPal contributions weren’t listed as of publication.
“No one knows how it works internally — including me,” Binkowski said. “Even if everything is on the up and up, the appearance is bad.”
Everything about Snopes is bad. And when the site properly implodes, its example should be used to beat the media’s fake fact checking media over the head. Again and again.
Are these the people who should be in charge of deciding what appears on Facebook, Google News or Twitter?
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