Paul Horner, a self-described fake news writer who became infamous during the 2016 presidential election, has been found dead in his Arizona home.
Horner, who oversaw a Facebook “fake news” empire and a variety of seemingly legitimate news sites that spread illegitimate news, may have died due to an “accidental overdose,” according to the Maricopa County medical examiner, who said there were no signs of foul play. The 38-year-old’s body was discovered Sept. 18, authorities said.
In a November 2016 interview with the Washington Post, Horner said that he hated Donald Trump, but that he also believed his fictional work helped get the real-estate mogul elected president,
Horner considered himself a satirist, writing stories that included anti-Trump protesters being paid $3,500 (a claim Trump repeated) and President Barack Obama’s opening a Muslim museum. In the Washington Post interview, he said that his fact-free tales worked because “honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care, because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
At the time of the election, Horner claimed to be making more than $10,000 per month just from Adsense ads on his stories.
Horner also wrote the book The Black House: A 12-Year Former Secret Service Agent Explains Why Obama and the First Lady Are Ruining This Country. The book made false claims that Obama was a gay, radical Muslim who wore Muslim garb around the White House and forced Horner to listen to endless hours of Diana Ross music. It was all made up, as was the notion that Horner served in the Secret Service.
Twitter users instantly asked when the conspiracy theories would begin.
Who will be the first to claim #PaulHorner was killed by Clinton / Obama?
— Bryan Lutz (@BryanALutz) September 27, 2017
— Voight-Kampff Test (@enjen99) September 27, 2017
Perhaps this person…
— 🐻⚾️Tracy Downey🐻⚾️ (@msgoddessrises) September 27, 2017
And then there are those who claim “fake news” is actually true:
— Jack (@risetoflyy) September 27, 2017