Russia does not like journalists, to say the least. Natalya Estemirova was the victim of a kidnapping, then, she was shot in the head and dumped in the woods. When Anna Politkovskaya entered the elevator of her apartment building, a gunman shot her point-blank. A few days before he was leaving for the U.S., Yuri Shchekochikhin contracted a mysterious illness and died suddenly. Officials sealed his medical records. Now, a U.S. journalist has died. He was only 38 years old.
Granted, Paul Horner was a famous fake Phoenix-based news journalist, but that makes his death all the more strange. The spokesperson for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office, Mark Casey, said they found him dead in his bed. The county medical examiner performed an autopsy and found no sign of criminal activity. Casey also told the Associated Press (AP) that the fake news journalist had a history of prescription drug abuse:
‘Evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose.’
During the 2016 presidential election, Horner rose to fame as his fake news articles captured the attention of social media readers. He cranked out fake articles and spread internet hoaxes via Facebook. Many of them went viral. Horner promoted the idea that President Barack Obama was a radical gay Muslim. Another hoax he propagated was that Donald Trump foes paid off protesters to demonstrate outside of his campaign rallies.
The fake news journalist told The Washington Post in 2016 that he believed that he was critical in Trump’s win because the presidential campaigner’s followers did not bother to fact-check his articles. Instead, they just posted them.
J.J., Paul Horner’s brother, told the AP that the fake news journalist believed he was writing satire. J.J. Horner said they grew up in Minnesota before moving to Arizona as teenagers. From an early age, Paul drew political cartoons. His brother also said that Paul’s “genius” was in spotting hypocrisy and hoaxes:
‘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.’
One of the Trumps shared a Horner article, leading people to believe that he was a Trump supporter, but that was not the case. The AP reported that his brother said:
‘I think he just wanted people to just think for themselves and be credible for their actions. Read more; get more involved instead of just blindly sharing things.’
The Sheriff’s office spokesman reported that the toxicology results from the medical examiner’s office have not been returned yet. That means Horner’s case will stay open until they come in and the medical examiner gives his cause of death.
Check out Horner’s interview with Anderson Cooper via YouTube:
Featured Image via Phoenix New Times Twitter Page.