Faux News Runs Amok

Note: I had two articles started, one of which would have become this afternoon’s post:  one about the latest news on the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the other about the Austrian presidential election.  Both would have been good posts, I think, as both brought good news.  But then something crossed my radar that literally sickened me, then enraged me, and I am still so mad I am shaking and ready to burst into tears, so my focus shifted.  Be advised that this is a rant.

The man who was supposed to “make America great again” has instead made America a place of shame and fear such as we have never known before.  He has almost single-handedly divided families and friends, and he has made our streets far less safe than they were a few short months ago.

welch-1Yesterday in Washington D.C., a 28-year-old male, Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into a pizzeria, Cosmic Ping Pong, with two assault weapons and fired shots.  Luckily, nobody was hurt and the man was subdued and arrested by police within a short time.  In October, Welch intentionally hit a 13-year-old girl with his car, and though police say the investigation is ‘ongoing’, Welch has not been charged in that incident. In and of itself, yesterday’s incident would be not much more than another argument in favour of enhanced background checks prior to gun sales, however there is much more to this story.

During the contentious, hate-filled campaign for the office of president this year, faux news became as common as Coca-Cola advertisements.  I am not referring to publications like The Onion, which plainly state they are satirical and which most people visit simply for a bit of humour.  No, I am referring to those Facebook memes that are from non-mainstream news outlets, and some that even appear to be from outlets such as ABC News, or CNN, but a bit of investigation proves otherwise.  The most blatantly vicious of them originated from the Trump side of the tracks.

One such story circulated toward the end of the campaign claimed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta were kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in the restaurant’s back rooms, or according to one version, in tunnels beneath the restaurant.  Nobody … I repeat NOBODY in their right minds, NOBODY with an ounce of brain cells in their heads, would believe this crap, right?  RIGHT?  Wrong.  Apparently, as this fake story circulated on social media, a great many people believed it.  The owner of Comet Ping Pong, James Alefantis, and his employees began receiving hundreds of death threats via text, email and twitter.  Despite Mr. Alefantis’ best efforts, and the involvement of D.C. police and the FBI, the threats have continued and the fake ‘scandal’ has expanded into what is now known as #Pizzagate. Sunday’s incident was just the latest in the escalation of this madness.

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Inside Comet Ping Pong, James Alefantis and employee

Comet’s General Manager, Bryce Reh, and his wife have also received a significant number of death threats, but it doesn’t stop there, as other businesses close to Comet have also received threats.  Matt Carr, the owner of the Little Red Fox market and coffee shop, said his business started getting threats last weekend. They got 30 to 40 calls before they stopped answering calls from blocked numbers, he said. “One person said he wanted to line us up in front of a firing squad,” said Carr, who spent more than an hour in lockdown with his employees Sunday. And Politics and Prose, the bookstore that has been a Washington institution and neighborhood fixture for more than 30 years, received threats recently. After the story broke yesterday, Washington Post reporters involved in this article were the target of online threats shortly after it posted.

Most troubling for Mr. Alefantis and staff has been the use of their children’s images, pilfered from the restaurant’s social media pages and the personal accounts of friends who had “liked” Comet Ping Pong online. Whoever is the ‘mastermind’ behind this slur campaign apparently has no conscience, using the pictures of innocent children, to promote their hate campaign.  Even musicians who have performed at Comet Ping Pong have received hate messages and death threats!

How did the rumour start, anyway?  According to the New York Times :

“The misinformation campaign began when John Podesta’s email account was hacked and his emails were published by WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign. Days before the election, users on the online message board 4Chan noticed that one of Mr. Podesta’s leaked emails contained communications with Mr. Alefantis discussing a fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton.

The 4Chan users immediately speculated about the links between Comet Ping Pong and the Democratic Party. Some posited the restaurant was part of a larger Democratic child trafficking ring, which was a theory long held by some conservative blogs. That idea jumped to other social media services such as Twitter and Reddit, where it gained momentum on the page “The_Donald.” A new Reddit discussion thread called “Pizzagate” quickly attracted 20,000 subscribers.

Glen Caplin, a former campaign official for Mrs. Clinton, did not comment directly about Comet Ping Pong but said, “WikiLeaks has spawned several conspiracy theories that have been independently debunked.” Mr. Podesta did not respond to requests for comment.

Soon, dozens of fake news articles on sites such as Facebook, Planet Free Will and Living Resistance emerged. Readers shared the stories in Saudi Arabia and on Turkish and other foreign language sites.”

Notably, all the misinformation that came out of WikiLeaks was unfavourable to the Clinton campaign, favourable to Trump.  Am I the only one here who smells a giant RAT?  Now, to take this story yet one step further …

According to Politico  , the son of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, embraced the baseless conspiracy theory, and Flynn himself has been involved in promoting other conspiracy theories that started as a result of the WikiLeaks hack into Mr. Podesta’s emails.

Throughout the final weeks of the campaign, Trump continually claimed that the “election was rigged”.  He claimed it was rigged against him, but stories like this, and the proven claim that Russian hackers did, in fact, affect the outcome to some extent, indicate that the election was indeed rigged … by Donald J. Trump and his minions.  Trump is in no way qualified to lead this nation … he is leading us down a path of moral decay and will ultimately lead us into war. But the lemmings are still following, for they are merely … lemmings … brainless lemmings. (Told you it was a rant!)

I end this post as I began it … with tears of shame for this nation. I am ashamed of every adult who has ever shared a faux news story on social media without taking the time and effort to check the veracity.  I am ashamed of every adult in this nation who still supports Donald Trump after listening to him put down women, the handicapped, immigrants, journalists, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, and others.  Those who can overlook Trump’s sexual misbehaviours, his misogynist remarks, him saying he would sleep with his own daughter … I am ashamed of you.  I am ashamed of all those who are too brainless to see what Trump actually is, when it has been thrown in all our faces for over a year.  And I am ashamed of those who believe crap that is obviously a figment of somebody’s imagination, then act on it, risking innocent lives.  I find lately that it is difficult for me to go out in public, to shopping malls, even the grocery store, as I look at other people and wonder … are they buying into the Trump philosophy?  Are they carrying a loaded gun?  This is the legacy of Trump, people … he has made us a nation of shame, fear, and contempt.  Some of us, those who still have a conscience, do not know how to function in this new world, the world of faux news, lack of values, and phobias too numerous to name.

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18 thoughts on “Faux News Runs Amok

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  5. I know how you feel. It’s like trying to hold back a tsunami though, counteracting all the falsehoods. The media have been weakened so badly by populist online news sources that they have become both less influential and less capable of defusing such wicked nonsense. Even our supposedly impartial BBC feels it has to put an opposite view on things which are plainly matters for expert opinion, matters in the public interest, and put up ignorant non-specialists to disagree with experts on matters such as climate change and medicine. I don’t know what can be done – can anything tilt the balance back to rationality? Perhaps this is what Trump’s election can do – make people realise what happens when you dispense with reality, truth and facts? One positive… but at what cost? Sigh too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you that perhaps the awakening of the masses is the one good thing that may come out of a Trump presidency. Let us just hope that he doesn’t blow up the world before we get to realize that benefit! Good to see you back … missed you, Memoirsofahusk!

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  6. I would agree with the idea that fake news helped get Trump elected. I can’t tell you how many times I felt compelled to comment on posts that contained fake news during the past several months. Facebook ‘friends’ would mindlessly share this stuff and I would use Snopes and other resources to let them know that the stories were fake. Some took them down. Others and their ‘friends’ would call me a ‘libtard’ and other creative names in response. It’s almost as if there is no concern that a story is fake if it fits a given agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This morning as I was talking to a colleague about the harassment issues going on here at work and the institution’s unwillingness to take it seriously and my starting to think about options around just getting the hell out of here, I said “it could be worse – we could be American”. Our work situation is like American in a microcosm. People have had ample opportunity to step up and stop the harassment and bullying, but instead choose to stand by and ignore it, at best, or trivialize it at worst. Just keep doing what you’re doing as long as you are able!! I won’t say “it will get better” (I, myself, am tired of hearing that). Just hold onto hope that it will…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jill, when so-called leaders espouse inane crap, they need to be called out on it. It is the only way for it to stop. Our President elect is so relentless with his inanity, it would require a full-time editor to keep up with his BS. When he blamed Clinton for starting the birther nonsense, someone should have asked a simple direct question – do you expect us to believe that nonsense?

    Congress used a report from two unreliable sources, one being Breitbart, that took data out of consequence and said the planet is cooling, not heating. Someone needs to simply say, it is hard enough to govern with facts, please stop bringing up stuff that is not verified it makes you look like you are a not serious leader.

    Now, our P-E says he is going to Tweet because the news sources do not cover him correctly. He is right, they should be calling out his BS more than they do and asking questions about his global business dealings and why he is permitted to make his goods abroad, while he punishes select companies for wanting to do what he does?

    Rant on, m friend, Keith

    Liked by 2 people

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