In the wake of the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the U.S. military, a viral story emerged on September 1, 2020, claiming that 27 U.S. Air Force pilots had resigned in protest. However, this story turned out to be completely false. It originated from a website called Real Raw News, known for publishing outrageous and fictitious tales of arrests, trials, hangings, and executions, including headlines like “James Comey Loses His Head to Guillotine” and “The Arrest of CIA Deputy Director David Cohen.” Investigations revealed that Real Raw News is just one of several conspiracy-oriented websites created by an individual using the pseudonym “Michael Baxter.”
The site presents itself as an “independent publisher” exploring content overlooked by the mainstream media. Since its inception in late 2020, Real Raw News has published over 200 articles, fabricating a narrative of military arrests and executions that caters to staunch believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Despite the blatant falsehoods, these articles gain significant traction on social media, accumulating thousands of likes, shares, and engagements. It is crucial to uncover the truth behind Real Raw News and expose its deceptive practices, ensuring that readers are not misled by their sensational headlines.
The Falsehood of “Rochelle Walensky Hanged” Headline
Real Raw News, a website notorious for its sensational and fabricated news stories, recently published an article on June 2, 2023, titled “Rochelle Walensky Hanged.” This headline quickly gained attention and began trending. However, it is important to note that this news story is entirely false and manufactured. Real Raw News has a pattern of publishing outrageous and attention-grabbing news stories solely to generate views and engagement. Their modus operandi involves creating sensational headlines that captivate readers, despite lacking any basis in reality.
Examining the Deceptive Tactics and Origins of Fabricated Stories
Authentic Style with a History of False News Stories
Real Raw News adopts the guise of genuine news reporting, employing a narrative format that spans multiple installments. One example is a five-part series detailing an alleged military tribunal involving Hillary Clinton. However, these stories are far from factual.
The Enigmatic “Michael Baxter” and Unverified Sources
The site’s author, “Michael Baxter,” presents himself as an insider reporter with privileged access to exclusive information. He claims to have unnamed sources in direct contact with Donald Trump and individuals at Guantanamo Bay, vowing to regularly verify his claims. Despite adding a disclaimer labeling the content as humor, parody, and satire, Baxter has staunchly defended the accuracy of his writings.
Deceptive Authenticity and Media Impact
Real Raw News exhibits a unique style that blurs the line between real news reporting and misinformation. The headlines often mimic legitimate news stories, making them appear credible to susceptible readers. This deceptive tactic has helped the site build a following and gain increased mentions across various media platforms.
Fantastical Claims and a Growing Influence
In the alternative reality of Real Raw News, prominent figures like Mike Pence, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Hunter Biden find themselves entangled in implausible scenarios. The site propagates falsehoods about public figures being arrested, executed, or subjected to extreme measures. Despite the lack of truth, these sensational headlines have garnered significant social media attention and engagement.
Recent Fabricated Story: Whitmer’s Car Unveils Disturbing Contents
Real Raw News’s pattern of disseminating false news stories is exemplified by an article published on June 1, 2023. Titled “Cocaine, Porn, Evidence of Child Trafficking Found in Whitmer’s Car,” the piece claimed that United States Marines had discovered explicit materials, illegal drugs, and an iPad containing sensitive information related to child trafficking in Gretchen Whitmer’s vehicle. The alleged source cited was an office associated with General Eric M. Smith. This entirely fabricated narrative follows the earlier report of Whitmer’s apprehension by the Marines and the subsequent seizure of her car. However, these events and the disturbing contents described were entirely baseless, serving as another example of Real Raw News’s propensity for spreading sensational and false stories.
Investigating the Face Behind Real Raw News
Investigations revealed that the origins of the website and the identity of its creator, “Michael Baxter,” were far from what they seemed. Delving deeper into the matter, it was uncovered that Baxter had a history of operating multiple websites and YouTube channels that actively promoted extravagant conspiracy theories. Through public records, the pseudonym’s true name was Michael Tuffin, a 53-year-old individual who has resided in Texas and New York. As the influence and reach of Real Raw News continue to expand, it becomes increasingly crucial for readers to be aware of the deceptive nature of the site and the false news stories it perpetuates. By remaining vigilant and discerning, one can help combat the spread of misinformation disguised as authentic news, thus safeguarding the integrity of factual reporting.
Exploring Real Raw News and Its Impact on Audiences
In the vast world of online information, Real Raw News emerged as a controversial website in late 2020, making sensational claims and attracting the attention of various investigative agencies and fact-checking websites. Its content, often shared through social media platforms, quickly gained a substantial following. This article delves into the origins and tactics of Real Raw News while shedding light on the reasons behind the growing audience for such websites.
Genesis and Early Infamy
Real Raw News was registered as a domain in April 2020, but it only began publishing its stories in late December. One of its initial articles falsely alleged that FEMA had acquired assault rifles from China and indicted Fauci, which brought the website to the attention of investigative agencies and fact-checkers. It also caught the eye of NewsGuard, an organization dedicated to analyzing and rating news sources based on credibility.
Connections and Curious Correspondences
During the investigation, NewsGuard contacted Real Raw News through the email address associated with a PayPal account on the website. In response, they received an email signed by someone using the name “Twisted Truth,” who claimed that the website was a satire site aimed at exposing the irrationality of avid Trump supporters. This discovery led to further research, which revealed connections between Real Raw News and another website called twistedtruth, as well as a YouTube page associated with it.
Uncovering the Author’s Identity
By linking the name “Twisted Truth” to Michael Baxter, PolitiFact discovered a YouTube video interview with Baxter, conducted by David Greig, a New Zealand fact-checker. The video dated back to 2017, during which Baxter challenged Greig to a debate on the existence of the mythical planet Nibiru. Baxter was also associated with other websites like someonesbones and beholdapale, which are not functional now. However, confirming Baxter’s employment history or journalism credentials proved difficult, as responses from mainstream publications were not forthcoming.
A Web of Misinformation
Experts studying misinformation patterns noted that websites promoting false claims are often interconnected, and authors frequently move between platforms or create new ones. Real Raw News stood out due to the extreme and far-fetched nature of its hoaxes, particularly surrounding military arrests and executions. Unlike other sites that publish one-off stories, Real Raw News consistently propagated multiple stories related to the same hoax.
The Appeal of Hoax Sharing
Real Raw News gained traction due to its sensational and outrageous content, attracting an audience that sought conspiracy theories and militaristic narratives. The website’s writing style, characterized by a “trust nobody but me” approach, became a blueprint for spreading hoaxes. Despite attempts to distance itself from QAnon, Real Raw News’ content often drew inspiration from or had connections to the movement.
Social Media Amplification
Real Raw News achieved heightened visibility on social media platforms, with its false stories being shared extensively. The platform provided a fertile ground for the dissemination of misleading information, as the website’s content appeared similar to mainstream news articles, making it difficult for users to distinguish fact from fiction. The circulation of Real Raw News stories on Facebook and Twitter often occurred without the accompanying buried disclaimer found on the website’s “About Us” page.
Misinformation Defense Tactics
Real Raw News employed a tactic common among websites promoting falsehoods: burying the satire disclaimer within the “About Us” page and downplaying it on individual stories. The website’s author, operating under the name “Michael Baxter,” repeatedly defended the accuracy of the articles and the credibility of unnamed sources in comments posted on Real Raw News. When confronted with evidence contradicting his claims, he resorted to far-fetched explanations such as the use of computer-generated imagery, holograms, or cloning.
Real Raw News exemplifies the challenges posed by online misinformation and the potential harm caused by websites that promote hoaxes disguised as news. The ease of creating such platforms and the proliferation of misinformation highlight the importance of critical thinking and reliable fact-checking. As audiences navigate the vast digital landscape, it is crucial to discern fact from fiction and rely on trusted sources of information to combat the spread of misinformation.