‘Barack Obama to run as president of Kenya in 2021’ hoax trips ZBC

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READERS of State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) online news were horrified on Wednesday afternoon to see an article claiming that former US President Barack Obama has announced an intention to run for the Kenya presidency in 2021.

Obama was born to a Kenyan father and American mother, and went on to become America’s 44th President as a Democratic candidate between 2004 and 2012.

The article stayed on the ZBC website for a couple of minutes before it was trashed and pulled down.

A 404 error after ZBC had pulled down the fake news article on Barack Obama

But did former U.S. President Barack Obama announce that he will enter the race to become Kenya’s new president in 2021?

No, that’s not true: This is a work of satire, everything is made up, and Obama is currently working to lift the Democratic party in the United States.

The claim originated from an article published by World News Daily Report on January 14, 2020, titled “Barack Obama announces intention to run as president of Kenya in 2021” (archived here) which opened:

IN A SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT COULD UPSET AFRICAN POLITICS FOR YEARS TO COME, FORMER AMERICAN PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HAS CONFIRMED THIS MORNING HIS CANDIDACY IN THE 2021 KENYAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.

SON OF A KENYAN SENIOR GOVERNMENTAL ECONOMIST, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA SR., THE POLITICIAN WHO SERVED AS THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES FROM 2009 TO 2017 IS ACTUALLY TOURING AFRICA TO GIVE A SERIES OF CONFERENCES.

WHILE VISITING THE KENYAN PORT CITY OF MOMBASA, HE WAS GREETED BY A LARGE AND EXTREMELY ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD, LOUDLY CHEERING AND CHANTING HIS NAME.

MR. OBAMA DREW AN ALMOST ECSTATIC ROAR FROM THE CROWD WHEN HE MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WAS RETURNING TO POLITICS.

The joke story went on to (supposedly) quote Obama saying:

I’M A BIT DISGUSTED WITH AMERICAN POLITICS RECENTLY WHILE SEEING KENYA STRUGGLE. I REALIZED I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP MY HOMELAND…I WAS ABLE TO SOLVE THE U.S.’ WORSE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN ITS HISTORY AND PUT IT ON THE RIGHT TRACK UNTIL THEY ELECTED A NARCISSISTIC REALITY TV STAR. I CAN CERTAINLY HELP KENYA.

The website World News Daily Report is a humor website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories.

44th President of the United States, Barack Obama

The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that, even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

WORLD NEWS DAILY REPORT ASSUMES ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SATIRICAL NATURE OF ITS ARTICLES AND FOR THE FICTIONAL NATURE OF THEIR CONTENT. ALL CHARACTERS APPEARING IN THE ARTICLES IN THIS WEBSITE – EVEN THOSE BASED ON REAL PEOPLE – ARE ENTIRELY FICTIONAL AND ANY RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN THEM AND ANY PERSON, LIVING, DEAD OR UNDEAD, IS PURELY A MIRACLE.

On March 20, 2019, the site added a new header that included the slogan “Where facts don’t matter” to make it clearer to casual visitors the published content is fictional:

factsdontmatter3.png

The site often uses images stolen without attribution from real news websites, sometimes showing real people who have nothing to do with the story.

The site is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montéal.

Very often, their stories feature an image showing a random mugshot found in a mugshot gallery, on the internet or on a stock-photo website superimposed over a background of flashing police lights or crime scene tape.

Articles from the site are frequently copied (sometimes even months or years later) by varous fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and present the information as real.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes worldnewsdailyreport.com as:

A WEBSITE THAT PUBLISHES HOAXES AND MADE-UP STORIES THAT ARE OFTEN WIDELY SHARED AND MISTAKEN FOR NEWS.

According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

So, on this one, the State-owned broadcaster was caught pants down. Who doesn’t get it wrong at times? It happens, even to the best of us.

It is not only ZBC that fell for the hoax, as several sites from Malawi, Zambia and even beyond, tripped themselves over the hoax article.

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