The number one story on the Nashville-based news website TN Horn News for the last week or so has been an article headlined “Dissension Inside DSA: Minneapolis Chapter Faces Criticism For Alleged Rejection of Minority Communities, Potential Shift In direction of Republican Celebration.” The story echoes charges from Minneapolis City Council candidate Nasri Warsame that the DFL endorsement process has been tainted by unfair treatment by party officials and a crew of local socialists.
The domain thhornnews.com was registered on May 16, three days after the Ward 10 convention was cut short by chaos instigated by Warsame supporters. The website publishes dozens of stories a day, but so far no other stories about Minneapolis local politics. Based on my extensive reading, the website’s content is stolen from popular mainstream websites. The large volume of poorly re-written stories suggests they’re using an automated process — swapping words for synonyms — in order to avoid being recognized as obvious plagiarism. But this word-swapping is so crude that it makes TN Horn News just a flood of nonsense articles.
To give you a sense of it, here’s a sentence from an original post from a lifestyle blogger at cupofjo.com about her mom’s home: “The nice thing about a round table is that you can really squeeze people in when they come to visit.”
And here’s the TN Horn News imitation: “The good factor about a spherical desk is that you would be able to actually squeeze folks in once they come to go to.”
The language on these plagiarized stories is mangled beyond recognition. The words stop making sense. There’s no reason for this website full of useless content to exist, except as a scam to sell ads or to give it the superficial appearance of a news website. But Nasri Warsame is apparently a reader. Warsame’s Facebook share of the article came just two minutes after the author, Bashir Gure, first posted it.
As a result of his delegates and supporters storming the stage at the Ward 10 convention on May 13, Warsame has been barred from ever again seeking a DFL endorsement. Over the last several weeks, he’s held two press conferences (I tried to attend the first one, but the campaign had me removed from the building before it began — with the eplanation that I’m too “negative”). The fallout from the Ward 10 convention has been featured across Minneapolis local news — an unprecedented amount of media attention for a city council challenger. A lot of that coverage has been unflattering, as you’d expect it to be if your supporters chased your opponent’s campaign out of an auditorium at a political convention. But some of those stories have also repeated Warsame’s side of the story: accusations of bias and claims that a city council member assaulted his campaign manager.
Despite the volume of local coverage, the only “news” story about the convention and its aftermath that Warsame has shared to social media is from Nashville’s scam news leader: TN Horn News. He shared the story to both Facebook and Twitter on the day it was published.
The TN Horn News story echoes Warsame’s campaign message of the last few weeks: blaming socialists and suggesting that the DFL’s unfair treatment might turn the Somali community away from the party. In a June 2 post to Facebook, Warsame responded to the ban he received from the party, “Our Community has been the bedrock of the DFL Party, but the party leadership has shown to us their true color, and their inclusion statements are just lip service. of the DFL party.” The next day, Warsame vowed to “expose the truth & hold DFL chair Martin accountable, as well as uncover the backstabbers within our community.”
Why is an article about a Minneapolis City Council race the rare story this fake news website hasn’t plagiarized? I called Nashville-based PR consultant Bashir Gure, the man behind TN Horn News, to find out.
When asked about his article, Gure recognized the subject immediately. He told me he is the journalist who wrote it, and that “soon you might see the Somali community in Minneapolis voting for the Republican party.” He confirmed that he is the owner of TN Horn News, which he describes as a national news website with “in-house journalists.” He says the site devotes coverage to parts of the country with large Somali communities (in my review of the website, the content is broad and mainstream, and does not seem to have a focus on Somalia or Somali communities).
I asked how the stories are written, if the content is taken without permission from other websites and auto-generated. Gure didn’t address the process by which his website’s content was transformed from the originals, but said they insert links to the source material.
Gure told me that the primary source for his Ward 10 story was the “main guy for Nasri Warsame.” In response to questions about his relationship to Warsame, he said he is not a friend (though he called him “my friend” in one of the screenshots above) and is not compensated by the campaign. When I asked about the timeline — that the tnhornnews.com domain was registered on May 16, three days after the Ward 10 convention — he said he had another phone call and would call me back.