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Satirical Claims About Harrison Butker Are Being Passed Off as Legitimate
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Satirical Claims About Harrison Butker Are Being Passed Off as Legitimate

Posts from a parody site are being repurposed and circulated without any labeling.

Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks with the media during on February 5, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker garnered headlines for making controversial remarks in a commencement speech at Benedictine College. Butker said women had been told “diabolical lies” about the benefits of having a career, criticized the use of birth control by Catholics, and encouraged men to lean into their masculinity and role in the home. The address quickly gained Butker support among some religious conservatives, but earned equal criticism from others—including the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, a “founding institution and sponsor of Benedictine College”—for fostering division and suggesting that homemaking was the highest calling for women.

Since then, a satire account on Facebook has published multiple posts that portray Butker adding fuel to the fire. The posts make a variety of claims: One, for example, claims that Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, canceled three Pearl Jam shows after its frontman, Eddie Vedder, spoke out against Butker. Another reports that Butker received a $100 million endorsement deal from Hobby Lobby.

These stories are completely made up, but other accounts have picked them up and passed them off as legitimate. 

The story is an example of how posts originally labeled as satire can be passed off as legitimate, causing misinformation to spread quickly. This sometimes occurs with well-established parody publications like The Onion or The Babylon Bee, but it can also originate from lesser-known or poorly identified satire creators. When stories are not clearly identified as satirical or lack any identifiable satirical characteristics, they can easily be mistaken by users for factual information and unknowingly passed on as legitimate. 

Most of the false stories surrounding Butker originate with America’s Last Line of Defense (ALLOD), a Facebook page that regularly posts content related to viral culture war issues. While the page identifies itself as satirical and specifies that “Nothing on this page is real,” individual posts make no such distinction and its satire label can be seen only from the main page.

When a culture war story begins reaching peak virality, ALLOD regularly publishes multiple satirical posts related to the topic, often featuring fabricated quotes from public figures and pitting conservatives and progressives against each other. As the posts gain popularity, other social media users repost them but pass them off as factual. The rapid proliferation of false stories about Butker is a typical example of this pattern, and The Dispatch Fact Check covered a similar set of stories about musicians Beyoncé and George Strait earlier in May.

On May 17, ALLOD claimed in an initial post that Butker had criticized teammate Travis Kelce and his relationship with pop star Taylor Swift. “He thinks because his girlfriend is more famous than he is that he’s some kind of God,” the post quotes Butker saying. Only an hour later a second story related to Butker was posted, this time attributing the athlete with criticism of NFL quarterback turned political activist Colin Kaepernick. Two hours later, a third story credited Butker with even more criticism of Taylor Swift, and the next day a fourth story claimed that Swift wouldn’t allow Kelce to play for the Chiefs unless Butker was removed from the team.

All of these posts were quickly picked up by other pages, sometimes using new graphics or formats, and identified as real events to users. The trend continued with additional posts claiming Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had threatened to quit if Butker were released, that Butker had been given a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, and that Michael Jordan and Tom Brady both voiced public support for Butker. 

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.