Fake News: Trump Never Threatened to Sue Parody Cat Website

Chris Menahan
Mar. 23, 2017

Dozens of major news organizations ran with a viral fake news story yesterday claiming Donald Trump sent a cease and desist to a parody cat website.

A "17-year-old girl" referred to only as "Lucy" told fake news reporter Sage Lazzaro at The New York Observer that Donald Trump's lawyers demand she take down a fun website where users can "scratch" Donald Trump's face with cat paws.

She claimed the site was named "Trump Scratch" and said she took it down due to the C&D but put it back up at "KittenFeed.com."

The TrumpScratch site now redirects to a porn site and if you visit KittenFeed, it autoplays Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," signifying it's an elaborate troll.

The fake news story was picked up by The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News, The Daily Mail, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, The Telegraph and many others.

The Hollywood Reporter corrected their article and now admits it was fake:
The Trump Organization is saying its top lawyer did not send a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of a cat website that allows visitors to scratch at photos of President Donald Trump's head.

The Hollywood Reporter now has significant doubts about the authenticity of the letter that was initially provided to media outlets by Lucy, who says she is a 17-year-old based in San Francisco and the proprietor of Kittenfeed.com. The New York Observer first reported on the letter Tuesday and THR followed with its own report, which it is retracting and adding a correction to the article.

"It's a fake. This letter did not come from us," Alan Garten, the chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, said Thursday in an email to THR.

Lucy told THR by email that she received multiple letters from the Trump Organization regarding her website. A one-page cease-and-desist letter dated March 1 on Trump Organization letterhead was provided to THR as evidence. That document is below. Legal website Above the Law noted that language from the letter matched a cease-and-desist from 2015.

Trump Organization chief legal officer Garten noted in an email that the document did not include a signature from him. The fact-checking website Snopes has also noted that what Lucy had said was the prior name for the Kittenfeed website, Trump Scratch, which now redirects to a pornography website, was registered on March 22. Lucy had told THR that the Kittenfeed website had launched in February.

The New York Observer has yet to correct their article, though they did publish an "Update" at the bottom defending their fake news reporting.

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