A “satirical” blog claiming to be based out of Pennsylvania made an attempt in April 2017 at “covering” international news with a post involving then-United States President Donald Trump’s family business — but years later the joke ended up being on him.
The blog, “Breaking Burgh,” claimed that Donald Trump, Jr. had announced that the Trump Organization had been awarded the contract to rebuild an airport that had been destroyed in a missile strike his father authorized:
The airport, called the Shayrat airbase near the Syrian city of Homs, primarily plays host to a domestic carrier called the 50th Air Brigade. Though still a functioning airport, a number of buildings had fallen into disrepair over the course of the past 72 hours.
Donald Trump Jr. said there were a number of other developers bidding on the project, but he managed to persuade client Bashar al-Assad to pick him by promising to stand behind his work.
“I told him if I rebuild it I can guarantee it will be quality that will stand the test of time. But if it’s someone other than the Trump Organization, who knows? I couldn’t say what might happen to it.”
Unlike many of its contemporaries, the blog clearly identifies itself as “a satirical blog serving western Pennsylvania” above the story. It also includes a disclaimer which begins by telling readers:
Welcome to Breaking Burgh, a satirical blog serving Western Pennsylvania and beyond.
In case you read that too quickly, it’s SATIRE, so put that lawyer back in your pocket.
But regardless, whether they were doing so “ironically” or failing to read past the headline as the story spread on social media, some readers took it seriously:
The “airport” described by the blog is real; Shayrat Airbase, as it is formally known, was the target of a U.S. bombing attack on April 7 2017, because it was believed at the time to house a Syrian aircraft that carried out a chemical attack three days earlier that U.S. officials said killed 90 people, including 30 children.
ABC News reported at the time that the United State’s attack avoided doing damage to a suspected sarin gas facility at the airbase.
Despite the bombing, Syrian military aircraft continued to make use of the airbase; reports at the time said that observers believed that the U.S. gave Russia — a key Syrian ally on top of Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin — advance notice of the attack, allowing Syria to hide its aircraft.
Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that Trump and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing loans.
Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee Trump Organization operations.
The $250 million civil fraud trial is scheduled to begin on October 2 2023.
Update 9/27/2023, 11:04 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag