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Fact Check of the Year: Some US Media Fall for Satirical Piece on Biden 'Selling Alaska' to Russia

CC BY 2.0 / Flickr / Tom Purves / Alaska Shoreline
Alaska Shoreline - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
The Babylon Bee is a popular American media outlet that specialises in satirical articles. One might know what to expect from the outlet when they read its slogan: "Fake news you can trust". But maybe don't trust it too much.
First things first: US President Joe Biden did not sell Alaska back to Russia, even though satire outlet The Babylon Bee reported about it earlier in the week.
However, the outlet's specialisation does not seem to have been obvious enough for USA Today, which decided to roll out a fact-check on the "sale". After dedicating an extensive article to breaking down the claim of Biden selling Alaska "back to Russia so we can start drilling for oil there again", USA Today predictably concluded that it was satire.

"Based on our research, we rate SATIRE the claim that Biden plans to sell Alaska to Russia. The claim stems from an article published by The Babylon Bee, a satire website. There is no evidence Biden plans to sell Alaska", the fact-checkers found.

Their work was praised by The Babylon Bee as well.

"Thanks to the fact-checkers at USA Today who have pointed out that this story is satire. We would like to retract it, as we now realize it is false and was entirely made up", the outlet's Twitter account wrote. "We do our best to only share 100% true headlines, but sometimes we get one wrong. We will do better".

Now that it is known for sure that Joe Biden did not sell Alaska to Russia, netizens felt great relief and expressed as much online.
© Photo : Twitter / @HankRearden1957Screenshot
Screenshot - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
© Photo : Twitter / @FL_Mom81Screenshot
Screenshot - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
Some users even thought about their career prospects.
© Photo : Twitter / @ScubaShneveScreenshot
Screenshot - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2022
Earlier in the week, Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas amid Moscow's military operation in Ukraine. The US president warned that the decision could impact the already high energy prices in the United States.
In January, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy that allowed new oil development in vast areas of Arctic Alaska land in order to "ensure balance on America's public lands and waters to benefit current and future generations".
Now that the United States has found itself on the brink of an energy crisis, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy criticised the Biden administration for failing to use the land to extract the necessary resources at a time when Russia is taking out "massive amounts" of Arctic oil and gas.
"It’s clear that a ban on speculation on federal lands will keep us from resources that would benefit Alaskans and will hurt our economy", he said.
According to Norwegian energy research company Rystad Energy's estimations as of February 2021, Alaska's remaining recoverable oil reserves are around 23.3 billion barrels of oil and condensates.
Back in 1867, Alaska was a Russian territory, with the United States purchasing it from Russia for a price of $7.2 million.
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