Fake News Writer Found Dead In Suspected Prescription Drug Overdose
Paul Horner published some of the most popular
Horner's fake news stories were shared widely under several domains, including ABCNews.com.co, a website that intentionally tried to trick people by appearing, at first glance, to be
"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me," Horner told the Washington Post back in November, shortly after President Trump was elected. "His followers don't fact-check anything-they'll post everything, believe anything."
Influential members of the Trump team even shared the stories, like when former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski tweeted an article about protesters who were paid $3,500 to oppose Donald Trump. That story was completely fabricated.
But the entire fake news enterprise made Horner, who lived just outside Phoenix, a lot of money. He said that he raked in roughly $10,000 per month from ads during the election season, even as companies like Google were trying to crack down on fake news.
CBS News reports
, Horner's cause of death hasn't been finalized as toxicology reports are still pending, but the
Horner appeared on CNN in December and defended his actions to Anderson Cooper . He said that CNN and Fox News also spread misinformation saying "they have agendas" whereas his articles are clearly satire.
Paul Horner's brother, J.J. Horner, also defended his brother's fake news empire by saying that he simply wanted people to think critically before sharing things that might be fake online.
"I think he just wanted people to just think for themselves and be credible for their actions," J.J. Horner told CBS News. "Read more, get more involved instead of just blindly sharing things."
After the election, Horner said that he was a Hillary Clinton supporter and didn't believe Trump could actually get elected. But he defended his work as "satire" and seemed to constantly insist that everyone who helped his stories go viral should have done some fact-checking.
"I didn't think it was possible for him to get elected president. I thought I was messing with the campaign, maybe I wasn't messing them up as much as I wanted-but I never thought he'd actually get elected," Horner told the Washington Post .
"I didn't even think about it. In hindsight, everyone should've seen this coming-everyone assumed Hillary [Clinton] would just get in. But she didn't, and Trump is president."
[ CBS News ]