November 24, 2016
There’s no great mystery why Trump supporters are easier marks for fake-news trolls. Trumpers view the entire mainstream media as being allied against them…and on that score, they”re absolutely correct. As a result of this justifiable paranoia, Trump supporters tend to view the alternative press (or, if you prefer, the “new media”) as a counterbalance to the MSM and its biases. To get the “real news,” you have to go to obscure WordPress sites, or so the theory goes. This too-charitable view of the alternative press does indeed make Trumpers easy targets. One need only register a domain name that sounds appealing to the alt-right, post a few anti-Clinton “satire” pieces, and before you know it, you”re trending on Facebook.
That said, is it possible that these fake news sites helped swing the election? Almost certainly not. Paul Horner admits in his WaPo interview that he purposely targeted die-hard Trump fans and not people who may have been inclined to vote for Clinton. Pretty much all of the fake news sites did the same. In other words, the hoax stories were sent to, and reposted by, people who already had their minds made up, people who were going to vote Trump regardless. There’s zero credible evidence that fake social-media stories helped sway independent voters. These phony news pieces were used in a purely masturbatory way, fetish porn sent to preexisting fetishists. Self-important dime-store agitators like Horner, who actually believe they made a difference, need to get over themselves. They”re pathetic trolls, and nothing more.
In fact, an irony oddly missed in the Washington Post piece is that the millennial “reporter” who conducted the interview with Horner, Caitlin Dewey, herself got hoaxed into writing a piece of fakery back in July, when she claimed that Reddit’s largest pro-Trump subreddit was allied with “neo-Nazis” and “white supremacists.” I wrote about that incident in this column days after it happened. Following her recent interview with Horner, I emailed young Ms. Dewey. I asked her why, in a piece claiming that Trump supporters are more gullible than others when it comes to fakes, she forgot to mention her own rather humiliating brush with gullibility:
I found it interesting that Horner apparently believes that Trump supporters are somehow more inclined to fall for fakes than other folks. Since you fell for a fake earlier this year, I”m interested to know if you are/were a Trump supporter, and”if not”did you call him out on his claim by bringing up your own experience?
No reply from Dewey, of course.
Undaunted, I approached the prankster who helped hoax Ms. Dewey in the first place, my good friend and troll extraordinaire Eugene Nix (real name unknown to pretty much everyone, possibly even himself, considering his fondness for certain smokable plants). I asked him for his thoughts on the “fake news helped swing the election” hysteria, and his take was pretty damn spot-on: “What’s the difference between the outright fakes targeting Trump supporters and the more subtle but just as phony fakes the mainstream news peddles every day?”
Well, that certainly shut me the hell up. There’s no way to argue with that. Every week, every day, the MSM hits us with fakes, from phony racist hate-crime stories to phony anti-Muslim hate-crime stories to phony anti-LGBTXYZ hate-crime stories, etc., etc. “Waitress receives no tip because she’s trans!” “Hate note scrawled on receipt because the waiter was black!” “Sorority girl raped by misogynist frat boys!” “Brick tossed through interracial couple’s window!” The mainstream media is always pushing fakes, but”and this is no small “but””those fakes are couched in the language of “hey, we”re only reporting what we”ve been told,” and “sorry what we were told turned out to be wrong. Check out the correction we published on page 50 below the crossword puzzle!” These “outs” allow the MSM to continually promote fakes without appearing fake. Internet hoax sites are just more honest about what they do. That isn”t to say that the hoax sites are justified, which they are not, or that there aren”t a lot of truly conscientious and responsible journalists and editors working for the MSM, which there are. But still, the righteous indignation coming from the Democrats, and the left-leaning media organs that routinely fellate them, fail to impress me.
If, the next time a swastika is crudely drawn somewhere in a public place, the members of the MSM pause to say, “hey, this type of thing is often a hoax”maybe we should hold off before splashing it all over the front page in order to get hits and sell papers through fearmongering,” I”ll take their protestations about fake news more seriously. Until then, their whining will continue to ring hollow.
The truth is, I have several Trump-supporting friends who”ve passed along fake stories on social media with full knowledge that the posts they were sharing were fakes. With apologies to Paul Horner, The Washington Post, and the rest of the hypocritical and indignant dolts who sought an easy answer by blaming the “gullibility” of Trumpers, the rightists I know saw fake news not as real but as strategy, as a defense against the other side’s “authentic” fake news. “The New York Times said premiums wouldn”t rise under Obamacare. How can anything I post ever be faker than that?” is the typical response I got when I called my friends out when they shared false news.
Do I agree with that response? No. I don”t support fake news under any circumstances, even as a retaliatory measure against other fake news. But I also don”t support easy answers, and “Trump supporters share fake news because they”re gullible dweebs” is an easy answer. Too easy.
But just as Democrats love lynching, their allies in the media love easy answers. So don”t expect anything more layered or complex from “respectable” journos. And for the love of God, don”t expect introspection.
“Mainstream Press Agrees to Stop Promoting Unverified “Hate Crime” Stories Until All the Facts Are In.” In a year filled with phony news, that headline would be the most obviously phony of all. Not even the world’s most accomplished troll could ever fool anyone into thinking that such a headline could be genuine.