In the last week of August 2015, HispanTV reported an alleged interview with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to this interview, Snowden said that:
“I have documents showing that Bin Laden is still on the CIA’s payroll. He is still receiving more than $100,000 a month directly to his Nassau bank account. I am not certain where he is now, but in 2013, he was living quietly in his villa with five of his wives and many children.”
As reported by HispanTV, Snowden further stated that the CIA orchestrated the “fake death” of the former Al Qaeda leader, and that his family had been escorted to their undisclosed location in the Bahamas.
According to Snowden, “Since everybody believes he is dead, nobody’s looking for him, so it was pretty easy to disappear.”
This alleged Snowden interview was reported internationally in Zócalo Saltillo (Mexico), Kooza (Pakistan), Diario 26 (Argentina), Wall Street Italia (Italy), Zee News (India), and other news outlets.
The only problem is: the story is not true. It was entirely made up, as an elaborate joke.
CLONING THE COMEDY NEWS
The first comedy clue is the “original source.” According to HispanTV, Snowden’s bombshell disclosure was made in an interview with the Moscow Tribune.
But there is no Moscow Tribune. This newspaper does not exist…and so the “interview” does not exist.
The second clue is the World News Daily Report. This is the first site that reported the Moscow Tribune “interview” on August 25, 2015.
It is also a “fake news” web site, which is entirely devoted to fictional, and often comic, news stories. In fact, World News Daily Report is the print equivalent of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
The third clue is the HispanTV “news article” about Snowden and Bin Laden: it is a word-for-word translation of the World News Daily Report article.
The two articles are not similar, they are identical – HispanTV simply translated the “fake news,” then ran it as “real news” on its own site.
WHO IS HispanTV?
So who is HispanTV, that is spreading this global mis-information?
It turns out that HispanTV is a Spanish-language news channel operated by IRIB, Iran’s state-owned public broadcasting corporation.
The government of Iran is running HispanTV.
Its mission is supposedly to provide “accurate and unbiased coverage of the world and Middle East events as they unfold.”
Here is their web site
Within the past week we have heard of Donald Trump ejecting Jorge Ramos from a press conference (true), offering to buy the island of Puerto Rico (untrue), and threatening to revoke the U.S. citizenship of all Puerto Ricans (unconfirmed).
This confusion is compounded when major state-owned news sources, such as HispanTV, simply copy-and-paste entire news stories that are completely fabricated.
Hard-core cynics and conspiracy theorists could even suspect that “comedy news cites” such as World News Daily Report might be a front organization for terrorists, the CIA, or rogue corporations operating under the protection of Citizens United v. FEC.
In a world dominated by spin, sound bite and “truthiness,” anything is possible.
Bin Laden still alive? Not very likely.
But someone should be looking into HispanTV: a “legitimate” news organization, sponsored by a hostile government, that is churning out fake news stories.
HispanTV is well-positioned to create enormous confusion, and do a great deal of harm…especially in the Latino community.