Whoopi Goldberg has been the subject of many fake news stories — but one in particular caused her to recently address the issue on The View.
The fake article, written by an American living in Costa Rica, was posted after Donald Trump's speech to the joint session of Congress this year. It falsely claimed Whoopi Goldberg said the "Navy SEAL Widow was 'Looking for Attention'" on an episode of The View — but she said no such thing. It garnered just over 55,000 reactions, comments, and shares online, according to social sharing app Buzzsumo.
Goldberg said the article endangered her and her family's lives. She threatened to sue James McDaniel, the creator of UndergroundNewsReport.com.
Goldberg began the segment by saying she has always had a good relationship with veterans and their wives, and reiterating that the Underground News Report article was a lie.
“When you look on our website, you can see everything that we say, our shows are posted," she said. "Unfortunately, people don’t do that, and you end up in a situation like you did in Washington where the guy read that a pizzeria was running a child porn ring in the pizza shop. And a man took a gun in there and shot it up.”
She was worried a similar thing could have happened to her. “If I hadn’t been made aware of this, I could have found out about this at the end of the barrel of a gun," she said.
The panel talked about how America's defamation laws are not strong enough to protect against fake news, and Goldberg called for legislation requiring consent from the subject of a fake article before it's posted.
The segment ended with Goldberg threatening to sue McDaniel.
“Sir, the fact that you don’t give a crap that it endangered me is unconscionable. I’m gonna get my lawyer and I’m coming for you," she said.
Goldberg's publicist told BuzzFeed News, "Whoopi’s comments on the show today speak for themselves, there is nothing else to report at this time." He did not respond to follow-up questions about the timing of the potential lawsuit or whether Goldberg would accept other resolutions.
For his part, McDaniel posted a response to Goldberg's threat on his website.
McDaniel, who says he's now out of the fake news game, has been getting a lot of hate mail after The View's segment. "I don't want to question it too much, because I obviously don't know what she's experiencing," he told BuzzFeed News, "but thinking about it logically it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. She cites the Pizzagate thing that happened in Comet Ping Pong in DC, but it's so different."
He noted that his site has a disclaimer on each article and doesn't disguise itself as a legitimate news site like many other fake news operations do. McDaniel's goal originally was to see how easily people could be fooled, and he has since said he will donate the revenue to the Democratic Party.
Celebrity hoaxes are a popular genre. Local-viral hoaxes target communities by falsely claiming celebrities are moving to small towns and writing articles about statements celebs never made.
"In all the fake news that's going on right now, I can't recall a single case where a celebrity has been attacked as a result of a fake news story," McDaniel said. "In my mind, it sounds like she's very frustrated. She's had all these fake news stories going around about her. Now she finally has somebody who's identified themselves."
He's not worried about Goldberg going ahead with a lawsuit against him. He said aside from it being a potentially difficult legal battle, McDaniel doesn't have much to give. "I don't really have any assets, I don't know what she's going to take from me."
Jane Lytvynenko is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada. PGP fingerprint: A088 89E6 2500 AD3C 8081 BAFB 23BA 21F3 81E0 101C.
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