Fake News Writer Made Famous During Election Found Dead
Paul Horner, who lived outside of Phoenix, was discovered dead in his bed on Sept. 18.
A man made famous for writing fake news during the 2016 presidential election has died outside of Phoenix, The Associated Press reports.
Paul Horner, 38, was discovered dead in his bed on Sept. 18, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Casey told AP. Casey said that an autopsy found no signs of foul play, but Horner had a history of prescription drug abuse.
“Evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose,” Casey said, according to AP.
Horner was well-known for writing fake news stories and spreading internet hoaxes. Many of his false stories went viral on Facebook and tricked many people, AP writes. He wrote a story that falsely claimed former President Barack Obama was gay and a radical Muslim. He also wrote a story that protestors were being paid thousands of dollars to demonstrate during Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, AP reports.
But during the 2016 election is when he took greater prominence. Horner even told The Washington Post in 2016 that Trump won the race because of him. AP reports that he said Trump’s supporters never fact-checked his stories before reposting and spreading them widely.
Horner’s brother, J.J., said Paul always had a “unique eye” for hoaxes and hypocrisy at a young age, reports AP. The siblings grew up in Minnesota before moving to Arizona during their teenage years. Paul started creating political cartoons at a young age.
J.J. also said Paul considered his work satire.
“So I think that was a lot of the genius behind a lot of his work was pushing ideas that either people wanted to believe or thought was possible,” J.J. told AP.
His brother also told AP that though many people probably thought Horner was a Trump supporter, “it was obvious that he wasn’t” because he was always transparent about his views.
“I think he just wanted people to just think for themselves and be credible for their actions,” J.J. Horner said, according to AP. “Read more; get more involved instead of just blindly sharing things.”
The case will remain open until the toxicology reports from the medical examiner’s office are known and a cause of death in finalized.
Here’s Paul Horner in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
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