The Toronto Sun Fell For An Obvious Hoax About Paid Anti-Trump Protesters

    The Toronto tabloid fell for one of the best-known hoaxes of 2016... in 2017.

    The Toronto Sun tabloid ran an article that falsely claimed people were being paid $3,500 to protest against Donald Trump, based on a year-old fake news story.

    The Toronto Sun

    The story, written by sports columnist Kurt Larson, ran with the headline "Anti-Donald Trump demonstrator paid $3,500 to protest president; Protesters took mandatory training."

    The Sun suggested some anti-Trump demonstrations "appear a bit too staged" and cited a fake news article from 2016 as evidence that protesters are being trained and paid by Hillary Clinton's defunct presidential campaign to oppose the US president's agenda.

    The Sun claimed its source was an Associated Press article, and linked back to a website designed to look like ABC News, located at abcnews.com.co.

    >@TheTorontoSun story linking to well known hoax news site as if it were the AP https://t.co/7AG9Klx3pZ

    The fake "ABC News" website is owned and operated by Paul Horner, an Arizona-based fake news writer previously interviewed by BuzzFeed News.

    Horner spent much of the last election cycle writing outlandish articles that were often picked up by Trump supporters. His hoax about fake protesters, first published in March of 2016, was even shared by Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

    After Trump's election, Horner gave numerous interviews to various media outlets about the phenomenon of fake news and what impact his own work had on the presidential race.

    After people online pointed out the obvious hoax, the Toronto Sun deleted the body text of the post without an explanation or correction.

    https://t.co/DoiNL2kHyk @TheTorontoSun you going to explain this or just pretend it never happened? #cdnpoli… https://t.co/flKJ3Cgxhp

    A mobile version of the original article was still available, however.

    Toronto Sun editor Adrienne Batra did not immediately respond to questions from BuzzFeed News.

    Horner, after being contacted by BuzzFeed News for comment, added a new introduction to the top of the post:

    "This story is not real. No one needs money to protest Donald Trump. I personally went to two Donald Trump rallies and I can say with 100% certainty that NONE of the protesters were getting paid. This story is mocking all of you sheep who think protesters are getting paid. Do your own thinking, retards."

    UPDATE

    The Toronto Sun article ran under sports columnist Kurt Larson's byline. An earlier version of this post did not include that detail.

    Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

    Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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