No, Patti LaBelle Did Not Punch Aretha Franklin: Why We’re So Susceptible To Believing Satirical News

April 18, 2014  |  


Perhaps you’ve seen this “news story” floating around the web:

Darius Jones, 17, was found hanging in his room Thursday morning after his Mother reportedly gave him a U.S.P.A. polo shirt as a birthday gift. Investigators found a suicide note on his bedroom desk in which the teen revealed his motives to take his own life. Investigators say the letter was both heartbreaking and disturbing as Darius wrote:

It ain’t Ralph tho”

I don’t know what I did wrong” Darius’ Mother said as she broke into tears, “He could’ve just told me he wasn’t happy, I would’ve bought him a hundred Ralph Lauren shirts, I would rather lose money than my son”. Family and friends don’t seem to understand what was so wrong with U.S.P.A. and why it made Darius do something so extreme. Investigators and analysts blame rap star and celebrity Kanye West for popularizing the phrase. Sociologist Erica Turner shared with reporters, “Teens look up to celebrities like Mr. West, If Kanye doesn’t approve of any other clothing brands other than Ralph Lauren, teens will mimic and bully and share this disapproval”. However, Investigators believe there was no bullying involved in the case and instead was Darius acting on his own accord. Darius’ funeral will take place Sunday at Restland Cemetary.

The story is taken from a site called It is obviously satire meant to have a chuckle at the very real emotional expense of those, who can recall the time their mom and ‘nem’ tried to pull a bait and switch. Instead of looking for the prestigious Ralph Lauren logo with a single polo player on top of a stallion, they opted instead to buy the shirt with the gigantic logo that has multiple workhorses being pulled along by the underpaid Mexican jockeys of the U.S. Polo Assn. clothing line. This fake story also plays off the now-infamous interview Kanye West recently did with MTV’s Sway in which he went off about how the veejay shouldn’t be giving him advice on how to break into the fashion industry, considering that “nobody knows” the name of his professed clothing line anyway.

However, not everyone got the joke with this satirical story. In fact, lots of people think this story is real – or they’re not sure. The latter was the general consensus of folks, who responded when I posted it to my own Facebook page. I wanted to be mad at them and type in all caps about how silly they were being, but at the same time, why ruin the joke? Am I right?

However, it is becoming an epidemic. And in addition to the U.S. Polo Assn. suicide story, many people who I regard as smart (including some news agencies), have fallen prey to some other fictitious headlines. My favorite false news includes the following:

Crips Release DeSean Jackson Over Concern About His Affiliation with Washington Redskins Organization

Floyd Mayweather Signs Sharkeisha as First Lady of Money Team Boxing Promotions

Taye Diggs on Best Man Cast “Being Around Them Black Women Made Me Miss My White Wife”

This Woman Murdered Nine People Because They Didn’t Accept Her Friend Request on Facebook

In the spirit of helping my fellow man – I am going to give you a short and abbreviated list of some of the fake news sites, which we all should be on the lookout for:

World News Daily Report

Weekly World News

The Spoof

The Onion




National Report

The Daily Currant

Cream Bmp Daily

Sports Pickle

News Nerds

Just to name a few…

When in doubt, look around the site at the other “news” stories. If they all sound equally unbelievable or too good to be true, likely, it is. Why do these sites do it? My guess is for the laughs. Or as stated in the mission statement for one of these gossip mills, which regularly churns out fictitious death reports on celebrities and other notables:

“The project’s name is an ironic reversal of portmanteau “mass-media” (media for the masses) in “media-mass” which here means “media en masse” as mass production and therefore mass consumption are the object of our criticism.The website is the medium of our satire to expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe.

Also it will not only mock the producers (mainstream media, journalists) as it is common when questioning and criticizing mass media, but also the consumers as one cannot exist without the other. Sensationalism, lack of verification of information, ethics and standards issues are only symptoms of the actual social and economic order. This is particularly obvious when observing the role of social networking sites in spreading rumours.”

Yes, very clever. I’m amused (seriously, I’m always down for a little The Yes Men-style hijinx). However, the subject of these rumors are rarely amused. Just ask Aretha Franklin, who has reportedly filed a $10 million lawsuit against News Nerds for falsely spreading reports that Patti LaBelle punched fellow diva Franklin in the face – this according to the Detroit News. I swear I’m not spreading gossip…

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