The Bee relies upon a similar format to that of leftist humor sites like The Onion, and it follows a long literary tradition of using satire and parody to lampoon the absurdity of political and cultural conventions.
Yet, the Times further alleged, without evidence, that the it was one of many “far-right misinformation sites that used ‘satire’ claims to protect their presence” on social media such as Facebook.
The meta-ironic attack proved richer than anything the Bee’s writers might have imagined—although that didn’t stop them from making hay of the situation.
— Fredric U. Dicker (@fud31) March 24, 2021
Despite poking fun at the Grey Lady, which has been front and center on several major stories that have been debunked during and after the Trump administration, the Bee took seriously the paper’s smear campaign.
The unvetted and unsubstantiated claims from the Times‘s San Francisco-based tech correspondent Mike Isaac—a Berkeley graduate with a degree in English Literature who “began his career as a music journalist, writing for Paste Magazine”—were, in fact, no laughing matter.
They subjected the Bee to serious leftist harassment and the threat of deplatforming from major social-media sites.
On Monday, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon announced that, after repeated cease-and-desist letters, the Times had finally relented.
Big update here. The @nytimes has responded to our demand letter by removing defamatory statements about us from their article. Here’s their email to our counsel notifying us of the correction. https://t.co/lv0eYo6NzK pic.twitter.com/OLi5KzMzej
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) June 14, 2021
Dillon said that the article had arbitrarily and unfairly targeted the site in what appeared to be an effort to subject it to needless scrutiny, including that of left-wing “fact-checkers” on sites like Snopes.com.
“It pointed to us—and only us—as an example of a site that misuses the satire label to protect our presence on social media sites that would otherwise ban us for spreading fake stories,” Dillon said.
After the site pushed back, Dana Green, the Times’s senior counsel, said that the article had removed the reference to the Bee as a source of misinformation, and that the newspaper had appended the piece with a correction:
“An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical website, and a controversy regarding the handling of its content by Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes,” the correction said.
“While both Facebook and Snopes previously have classified some Babylon Bee articles as misinformation, rather than satire, they have dropped those claims, and the Babylon Bee denies that it has trafficked in misinformation,” it continued.