When The Real Fake News Is Crying ‘Fake News’

So, I don’t know how it came about, exactly, but a week after The Belmont Goats hijacked a fundraiser in order to raise $5M to buy the Blackberry Castle and then backpedaled and misrepresented what they did, somehow The Oregonian picked up the story and decided just to run with the false narrative The Belmont Goats has been pushing in the aftermath.

The narrative they weave to The Oregonian is an extension of one they started weaving later on the actual day in the “spin” interview with KGW: they were never really trying to raise $5M, they just wanted to call attention to this cool idea of a profit-seeking venture inviting them to share the property if they bought it.

Quoting from the eventual update posted to the fundraiser, The Oregonian relays this statement: “We thought it would be fun to let people know about a for-profit group that would like us to be involved with their project at a castle.” This is from the same statement that suggested it had been a “misperception” that The Belmont Goats themselves were trying to raise the funds.

I’ve already demonstrated that the latter was not a misperception but a literal reading of the fundraiser.

(What’s more, The Oregonian reporting that there’d been “misinformation that the goats have money to buy the mansion” is complete nonsense, at least as far as any public coverage and reaction is concerned. Obviously, I can’t speak to what anyone might have thought or discussed privately somewhere but no one in the press or in any discussions I saw ever claimed the goats had the money, only that they were raising the money—which was literally true at the time.)

What must be confronted now is that this “attention” narrative actually presents a whole new set of problems.

If the idea, in The Belmont Goats’ own words, was “to let people know about a for-profit group”, then why a $5M fundraiser explicitly seeking to “raise the money ourselves” “to create The BlackBerry Goat Castle”?

Only one of two things can be true based upon all the various and different public representations by The Belmont Goats since this all began.

  1. The fundraiser was what it said it was: a campaign to raise $5M toward the purchase of Blackberry Castle.

  2. Or the fundraiser was a gimmick simply meant to draw attention to the profit-seeking venture.

I’ve already covered the problematic nature of the first option, in that it’s improper to hijack an existing fundraiser, and then also improper afterward to misrepresent what you did.

So, the second option?

If they set up a $5M campaign just as a gimmick to bring public and media attention to a profit-seeking venture, that is a deeply improper use of a nonprofit fundraising channel. It’s effectively making a false representation to existing and prospective donors.

A nonprofit’s donors are not mere props to be leveraged to drum up support for a separate profit-seeking venture.

So, there’s a simple pair of questions The Belmont Goats now must answer:

Which of the various narratives spun out over the past week do they actually want to go with; and are they ready, finally, to confront and address the particular problems that go with whichever of those narratives they choose?

They can’t just choose the “misinformation” or “misperception” narrative because it’s demonstrably false based upon their own words.

  1. Did they hijack a care and feeding campaign to buy the property themselves and then later misrepresent to the press and the public what they did?

  2. Or did they hijack a care and feeding campaign to promote a profit-seeking venture and then later misrepresent to the press and the public what they did?

The “fake news” narrative might soothe their conscience but it is itself the actual fake news.


  1. One other thing. There’s a reference in The Oregonian piece to an “original owner” who “retired”. They never were an original owner. They were a volunteer since Lents who took my place on the Board and became a co-owner of the animals when I quit in 2019.

    The last I knew, they’d simply taken a sabbatical around the time that I stepped in to help with social media. If that’s now a “retirement”, and they’re also no longer a co-owner, it’s news to me.