Snopes’ Toxic Culture and Liberal Bias

The Story Behind the Fact Checker

Snopes can best be described this way: A fact-checking site whose founder and executive is knee deep in lies and scandal, and a former managing editor whose liberal bias is palpably evident.

Do you know how this arbiter of truth got started? In 1994, by founder David Mikkelson and his ex-wife Barbara Mikkelson out of the basement of their home in California. That’s not to say it can’t be legitimate because it was founded out of their basement, but there’s more to this tawdry tale. Hold on tight. It got a jumpstart as the first fact-checking site, focusing on urban legends or “old-wives tales,” before turning its focus to fake news and other misinformation.

Snopes has been riddled with scandal after the recent relocation of its “corporate headquarters” a few years ago to Mikkelson’s bedroom office in Tacoma, WA. To clarify, Snopes isn’t the name of the company; it’s only the name of the site. Bardav, Inc. (which Mikkelson also owns) is the parent company that owns and runs the so-called debunking site.

Mikkelson Sued for Using Corporate Funds to Wine and Dine Ex-Porn Star Wife

Mikkelson had hired Proper Media to manage a significant portion of the site, including web content and advertising accounts for Snopes. Mikkelson’s ex-wife, Barbara Mikkelson, had 50 percent ownership and sold her stake to the directors of Proper Media before divorcing Mikkelson in 2016. Shortly thereafter, Proper Media accused Mikkelson of having blocked their access to Snopes, thus making it impossible for them to manage the site as agreed on. Proper Media, in turn, withheld all advertising revenue and wouldn’t surrender the domain name, suing Bardav (Mikkelson) for breach of contract, civil conspiracy, and corporate waste.

David Mikkelson with wife and former escort, Elyssa Young.

Was Mikkelson fit to run the company? This is the basis for the suit alleging corporate waste, since after the divorce Mikkelson was allegedly embezzling company funds to pay for his divorce, and lavish trips with his new bride—Snopes employee Elyssa Young. According to multiple sources, Mikkelson’s new wife, Elyssa Young (aka “Erin O’Bryn”), is a former escort and porn actress; she also ran for Congress in Hawaii, in 2004, as a libertarian on a “dump Bush” platform. (But I’m sure this has no bearing––not even a smidgeon––on her ability to provide Mikkelson assistance when it comes to “fact-checking.”)

Elyssa Young tweets a selfie of herself wearing a Snopes tanktop while Mikkelson is being interviewed.

Here’s her Facebook page: The page has photos posted of her and Mikkelson on there. Also, she looks exactly like “Elyssa Young”; thus, Erin O’Bryn must be an alias and stage name.

Because this is still being litigated, we’ll soon learn if Mickelson did embezzle company funds to pay for legal fees and lavish trips with his former escort and adult film star wife, Elyssa Young. It’s noteworthy that Proper Media learned about the supposed embezzlement of nearly $100,000 from Mikkelson’s ex-wife, Barbara Mikkelson, in court documents related to their divorce; in other words, this isn’t a baseless allegation.

In fact, his ex-wife wrote in court filings that he “raided the … corporate bank account for his personal use and attorney fees,” and that he [David Mikkelson] “expended money on himself and the prostitutes he hired.” (Talk about a damning statement.) In sum, Mikkelson is facing contentious legal battles stemming from alleged financial misappropriation of company funds.

If the guy at the top is misappropriating funds, how can he be trusted to fact-check the news?

Former Managing Editor a Liberal Hack

The former managing editor of Snopes, Brooke Binkowski, is a liberal hack disguised as an apolitical journalist seeking the truth. In fact, she was the editor of Snopes for nearly three years––up until 2018—when she finally got fired. (I guess Mikkelson thought she was blowing their cover as the “definitive fact-checking site.”)

While editor, her tweets reveal that she’s pro-life, pro-LGBTQ rights, anti-Second Amendment, and may have a sex/porn obsession herself. Here are a few of those tweets:

This was tweeted in March 2016, while she was still editor of Snopes. Is the penis mightier than the sword? According to her, yes. It’s an unprofessional tweet from a so-called “journalist” and “managing editor” of one of the biggest fact-checking sites. Maybe that’s the Snopes culture? She’s also tweeted other messages, where she doesn’t hesitate to use other crude terms, either literally or figuratively. There’s also a picture of her with 64-year old porn star, Ron Jeremy, who’s been accused of groping multiple women. (So much for respecting women.)

Her favorite reporter, Igor Volsky, is the author of “Guns Down”—a book about how to defeat the NRA. In fact, he’s so fervently anti-gun, that he regularly tweets about the fatalities caused by mass shootings and gun violence; he also believes in banning assault weapons, bump stocks, and large magazines, at the least. Igor is also anti-Trump and has endorsed the notion that Trump colluded with Russia, and has suggested that Trump is the perfect asset for Putin to attack America. He’s not just a reporter; he’s an ideologue who happens to be Binkowski’s favorite reporter.

The owner is likely an embezzler, and the executive assistant is a former adult film star and escort who ran as a libertarian and goes by an alias. Then there’s the former managing editor, whose favorite reporter is a guy on a relentless crusade to curtail gun rights and who believes that Trump is “Russia’s best asset.” Further, the former managing editor of Snopes (for three years) is pro-choice, taking jabs at preachers on Tweeter and even blaming the election of Trump for emboldening “white nationalists.” Binkowski believes that his election has emboldened anti-abortion whites to rear their “white nationalists” heads.

In the words of David Mikkelson: 

“The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post. Your crazy cousin’s blog. It all looks the same. A picture with a headline and subject. Before, they were relegated to a soapbox on street corners or drafting a newsletter. Now anybody can throw up a website.”

And sir, your website is no exception.

Huff Post Spins Trump Favorability

Check out this article that was published today a few days ago by the Huff Post: 85% Of Americans Haven’t Changed Their Minds About Trump Since 2016

Check out the pic above they used for this article. They show Trump angry and pointing at a member of the crowd.  It basically portrays him on an authoritarian rampage behind that mic.  I wonder why they don’t show a pic of him smiling, or sitting with members of his cabinet in the oval office? How about him walking outside the White House premises? Or maybe speaking at a rally?

And then there’s the headline that insinuates people hate him: “[H]aven’t changed their minds about Trump” When I hear someone say they “haven’t changed their mind about someone,” it’s almost always because they despise the person. Example: I haven’t changed my mind about Michael Vick even after all his charitable work; in my opinion, he’s still an animal killer.

How about this instead for a headline: “Trump Favorability Ratings Remain Largely Unchanged Since 2016.” That sounds a bit more on target. After all, they’re discussing whether there’s been a change in how he’s been viewed since he was elected president.

Then there’s the phrase “lion’s share” to emphasize that 48% have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while 36% have a favorable opinion of him. Hmm… “lion’s share”? Really? I don’t know if you know this, but the phrase “Lion’s Share” comes from a fable written by Aesop, in which the lion goes hunting with three other beasts, and the lion ends up taking ALL the spoils. Although it doesn’t mean the entire amount (or spoils) anymore as in the fable, subconsciously you think that it’s some huge proportion. And that’s not the case.

Finally, this is how they titled their chart explaining how Trump’s favorability declined from 85% to 66% among those who voted for both Obama and Trump.

“President Trump Now Less Popular Among Obama-Trump Voters”

My theory is that the editor deliberately wanted this worded this way to mislead people who just skim through the article. If I just skimmed that, I would interpret that to mean that Trump’s less popular among those who voted for Obama, as well as those who voted only for him. But he isn’t less popular among his own base; further, the article goes on to explain that his favorability is still a solid 66% among those who voted for both him and Obama. Using the phrase “less popular” is another means of portraying him in a negative light.

How about this instead for a title: “Trump Favorability Declines to 66% Among Obama-Trump Voters”

Taking out the “less popular” phrase, and substituting “favorability declines to 66%” seems less biased and more accurate.

What’s even more suspect is the timing of this article by Ariel Edwards-Levy. It just happens to be published days after Trump’s approval rating hit an all-time high of 46% in a Gallup poll. Not surprisingly, there’s no mention of Mueller’s findings that there was no evidence of collusion with Russia, which has improved his approval rating.

Looks like the Huff Post is back to their dirty tricks and word games.  Shame on them.