On October 12, right-wing radio host Mark Levin shared on Facebook and Twitter a fake news article about the Las Vegas shooting from a website designed to mimic a legitimate CNN page. The fake news article claimed the security guard at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas who was shot by the gunman had been arrested for “being an accomplice and second shooter in the Las Vegas massacre.” Levin later deleted the tweet, along with his Facebook post, which posited, “The security guard was in on it?” Levin has over 1.3 million Facebook followers and almost 1 million Twitter followers.
The story Levin circulated was from “cnn-internationaledition.com” -- which is not affiliated with CNN -- and was headlined “Breaking News – Police Arrest Mandalay Security Guard Jesus Compos As Second Shooter In Las Vegas Massacre.” The fake news article alleged that “Compos” -- a misspelling of the security guard’s name, Jesus Campos -- was “involved in the initial shooting as a second gunman from the other broken window in [gunman Stephen] Paddock’s 32nd-floor room,” and that FBI agents “became suspicions (sic) by the extreme amount of gunpowder residue found on Campos’ hands and inconsistencies in his timeline of events.”
Yeah, no. This is a fake site designed to look like CNN. pic.twitter.com/mqBc3DNdXU
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) October 12, 2017
There appear to be no author pages on this fake CNN site; bylines link back to the story page. The site’s contact page features no actual contact information, but rather a message submission form that collects names and email addresses. The site appears to be monetized, with ads provided by Content.ad, a serial offender in financing purveyors of fake news.
For his part, Levin is no stranger to fake news and misleading, unsubstantiated claims; he was likely one of President Donald Trump’s initial sources for his lie that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower to spy on him. Beyond that, Levin has diagnosed Obama with narcissistic personality disorder, denied climate change is caused by human activity, and, as recently as June, thanked Trump for “taking on the media” because “it’s a-damn-bout time somebody did.”
The Las Vegas massacre has inspired a litany of outlandish conspiracy theories, among them allegations that the shooting was staged by “Bolshevik” revolutionaries and that the gunman was linked to antifa and/or ISIS. This fake CNN article will also fuel speculation around one of the more common conspiracy theories, that the gunman had at least one accomplice who could have been a second shooter.