The CEO of satirical news website Babylon Bee confirmed the company’s lawyers sent a demand letter to the New York Times in June demanding a retraction over what the Bee said was an allegedly defamatory hit-piece.
“Yesterday our counsel sent a letter to @nytimes demanding a retraction. We took this action because their article was—and remains—defamatory,” Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon wrote on Twitter last week.
The NY Times had published an article in March, titled, “For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony,” portraying the Bee—which clearly labels itself as a satire website—as an entity that allegedly blurs the line between “misinformation” and satirical news.
“For example, The Babylon Bee, a right-leaning site, sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire,” the NY Times article said. The article was later updated in late March to instead read: “The Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical site, has feuded with Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes over whether the site published misinformation or satire.”
But Dillon, in a series of tweets last week, said that the revision “was no better than the original” article.
Yesterday our counsel sent a letter to @nytimes demanding a retraction. We took this action because their article was—and remains—defamatory.
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) June 3, 2021
“We have not, in fact, feuded with Snopes as to whether we publish satire or misinformation,” he said in a Twitter post, referring to claims foisted in the NY Times article. “Snopes retracted that insinuation with an editors’ note saying it was never their intent to call our motives into question.”
The NY Times article made reference to a 2019 Snopes article stating that “Too Many People Think Satirical News Is Real” that noted fellow satirical website The Onion is also often mistaken for satire. However, Snopes alleged the Babylon Bee was “among the most shared factually inaccurate content.”
“It’s therefore misleading and malicious,” Dillon added of the NY Times, “to characterize that incident as a feud, as if Snopes ever openly stood by the claim that we are misinformation and not satire.”
Dillon then said that the Babylon Bee can’t “stand by idly” and argued the article may damage its business.
“These mischaracterizations from the Times are nothing new. Previously, Times reporter Kevin Roose wrote a defamatory piece that claimed we ‘capitalize on confusion’ and that we have a ‘habit of skirting the line between misinformation and satire,’ whatever that means,” Dillon wrote.
The Epoch Times has contacted the NY Times for comment.
It’s unclear when or if the Babylon Bee will file a lawsuit against the paper.