Fake News Revealed

James Kirchick has penned a thoughtful look at the proliferation of fake news. He’s no fan of Donald Trump, as he makes very clear. But neither can he abide the cascade of, shall we say untruths, from Trump’s critics on the left. For instance, he writes:

I cannot recall the number of times I’ve read or been told that Mike Pence supports “conversion therapy” for homosexuals, the inhumane, pseudoscientific practice whereby gay men and women are made to believe that their nature is unnatural and they, therefore, must work to “change” it through psychologically abusive tactics. Pence is by no means friendly to the cause of gay equality, but as the journalist Carl Cannon recently wrote, nowhere has he ever come out in favor of conversion therapy—not once, ever.

And elsewhere:

The tendency to hyperbolize about Trump is partly influenced by an identity-politics-driven myopia which can’t see the unprecedentedly threatened societal forest because it’s so obsessed with each and every single one of the supposedly endangered trees. In the days after the presidential election, I came across countless social media posts in which the author recited some variation of the following lament: “Trump’s victory will most hurt women, African-Americans, undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, etc.” the list of potential victim groups extending sometimes for an entire paragraph or more. It was as if the authors of these posts were completely oblivious to the joke about the apocryphal New York Times headline, “WORLD ENDS: BLACKS AND WOMEN HARDEST HIT.” The bizarre inclusion of “LGBT” in this litany of victimhood notwithstanding (Trump ran as the most pro-gay Republican presidential candidate in history and made a point of addressing transgender concerns)….

Kirchick has many scathing criticisms of Trump, but he’s not going to let the left’s deluge of fake news go unexposed.

[Added: When “resistance” is premised on false assertions used to advance bogus narratives, it undermines the ability to counter actual bad policies with reasoned and convincing arguments. Remember reasoned and convincing arguments? It’s how people debated policy points before everything devolved into pure emotion.]

More. The Hill columnist John Feehery writes:

The Democrats, and more than a few Never Trump Republicans, imagine themselves to be brave, solitary figures standing against the rise of a brutal dictator.

That’s ridiculous. We not only have plenty of institutional checks and balances arrayed against any potential dictator. We also are, as a people, a nation that takes its liberties pretty seriously. We are not the Weimar Republic. We don’t have inflation hitting 300 percent. Unemployment is not at 30 percent but at 4.8 percent. We might have our fair share of disagreements, but we have a constitutional process to resolve them amicably, without bloodshed.

The Democratic resistance is taking on a form of fanaticism. Its adherents are redoubling their efforts to stop Trump but forgetting what their aim is. They are supposed to be working to make this country a better and more prosperous place for their constituents.

I’d add that LGBT activists (at least those that don’t have a political party’s name as part of their moniker) are supposed to be working to advance LGBT legal equality and social inclusion, not to further the fortunes of the Democratic party.

26 Comments for “Fake News Revealed”

  1. posted by Houndentenor on

    Pence’s support for “conversion therapy” has been overstated, but it’s not nonexistent. Fact-checking sites rate the claim as mixed or “half-true.” To claim that there’s no substance there at all is false.

    http://www.politifact.com/california/statements/2016/dec/02/gavin-newsom/pences-support-conversion-therapy-not-settled-matt/

    And to compare that to the complete lies coming out of the White House these days is laughable. But I do agree that this is a claim that liberals should drop. There’s more than enough to actually be concerned about without bothering with tenuous claims, rumors and predictions.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      “EDITOR’S NOTE: On July 28, 2016, PolitiFact California rated as True a statement by Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that Republican Indiana Governor and now Vice President-Elect Mike Pence “advocated diverting taxpayer dollars to so-called conversion therapy.””

      Oh, them?

      Idiots!

      I don’t think the new analysis is much better. Asking LGBT groups their opinion is fine, but I think instead of taking their word for it that there is a history of such a statement being a dog whistle, you might want to ask them to prove it. Ultimately the revised rating is an attempt to split down the middle in order to declare an answer instead of being caught saying “we don’t know.” How can you declare you have enough information to fact-check something if you rely entirely on the arguments of others and irrelevant and overstated guilt-by-association appeals without even fact-checking those statements?

      Calling it Half-True based on nothing more than the paranoid suspicions of LGBT groups is empty, absolutely dumb-empty, and it dishonors the English language. Bull****. Absolute bull****.

      Reply
  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Kirchick has many scathing criticisms of Trump, but he’s not going to let the left’s deluge of fake news go unexposed.

    Deluge? Are you shitting me?

    There is a material difference between (1) overstated opinion that has a basis in fact (e.g. the claims about Pence), (2) disagreement about the validity of claimed facts (e.g. the dispute over the nature, cause and extent of climate change), (3) differing interpretations of the facts (e.g. the administrations claim that the Orlando attack was “underreported” in the media) and (4) outright (alt-Right?) fabrications (e.g. yesterday’s claim that the murder rate in the US is now higher than it has been in 45-47 years, as one many examples from the last two weeks).

    The left (as is the right) is often guilty of overstated opinion, without doubt the various political factions disagree about the validity of claimed facts, and different interpretations of facts will always be with us, but none of those three things is the equivalent of outright fabrication of facts, which is the hallmark of the Trump administration.

    Reply
  3. posted by Jorge on

    I’m all for critical thinking.

    I can be quite keen to chop down some of those trees. And speaking for forests, I learned yesterday from some internet article that there’s a longstanding movement to start a constitutional convention via 2/3 of the states, rather than Congress, and that there are only six states left before it can begin. This is great news to me. This is an option I would like to keep in reserve in case Donald Trump becomes dictatorial and begins taking control of Congress. Suddenly the abysmal chances of success got much higher.

    I’ve been catching the AP making factual errors for years, and they’re always left-biased.

    “This country is entering a dark period, which makes it all the more important to engage in serious intellectual combat. The truth about Trump is awful enough that it needs no embellishment.”

    In real combat, you do not use all your strength to attack in the first round unless you are assured of victory. You may use quite a bit of effort in strategic attacks and counterattacks to cripple the enemy and secure your defenses. Or you could wait and analyze your opponent, or try to distract the enemy. These all give you good things if you’re successful, without crippling your own ability to win by much if they fail.

    If you take the common view that the anti-Trump movement consists primarily of the political left, inclusive of the media and academia, then they are clearly failing.

    If you take the view that Trump himself holds and identify his opposition as all conventional political institutions and their supporters, they are not failing. The mobilization of the radical left becomes only one of many ways the opposition has tested the Trump administration. It wants to know if Trump will ignore or overreact to their other movements.

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Some of the strongest anti-trump voices I hear are conservatives like Evan McMullin and David Frum. Conservatives who never drank anyone’s Kool-Aid. No one is going to pay attention to the left. No one ever has except the far right. But mainstream independent conservatives have valid and well-reasoned criticisms of Trump. More people should be listening.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Some of the strongest anti-trump voices I hear are conservatives like Evan McMullin and David Frum. Conservatives who never drank anyone’s Kool-Aid.

      Charlie Sykes from Wisconsin is in this category — he has been the biggest voice in conservativism in Wisconsin politics for years — and he recently wrote an op=ed that is on point: “Why Nobody Cares the President is Lying“.

      Reply
  4. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    As an aside, loosely related to either (a) overstated opinion that has a basis in fact, or (b) differing interpretations of the facts, I notice that political correctness has come to the United States Senate.

    Senator Warren was way out of line, admittedly, reading a letter from a Colored mamie that criticized the Senator from Alabama. But still.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      How man

      Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      A letter and statement, it should be noted, that were already in the Congressional record from being read in 1986. The idea that Warren was out of line is absurd. What is out of line was nominating an unrepentant racist like Sessions in the first place. If anyone missed Mrs King’s statement, here is the full text. Scroll down a bit when you get to the page. They have the entire letter and her statement.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/01/10/read-the-letter-coretta-scott-king-wrote-opposing-sessionss-1986-federal-nomination/

      Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      admittedly, reading a letter from a…

      I find your choice of words amusing.

      What is out of line was nominating an unrepentant racist like Sessions in the first place.

      That’s a canard that got exposed when Sen. Graham exposed the NAACP for giving super-low failing legislative scorecard ratings to all the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, while all but one of the Democrats had been rated 100 (the outlier was scored 96).

      There is also the not insignificant matter of his role in crack cocaine sentencing reform.

      (Shouldn’t you have listed those two examples in reverse order?)

      No. The purpose is to argue that the people who cry “racism” are themselves the racists.

      As for the idea that OMG, OMG can you believe what they did to Senator Warren???

      There is no need to take everything so personally.

      After all this is said and done, Sessions got confirmed on a party line vote anyway, and everyone in America heard the point Warren couldn’t get across to 99 other people. What’s the point of that little exchange in the Senate? What will it matter days and months from now? With Sessions out of the Senate, the Republicans are clearly confident the rest of Trump’s cabinet nominees will be confirmed without a hitch.

      Judge Neil Gorsuch, on the other hand, is likely to face a filibuster attempt in the Senate. The Democrats may require the 60 vote threshold to advance his nomination, while the Republicans may invoke the “nuclear option” to break the 60-vote requirement. But I read an article this week that argued that the Senate majority can invoke an arcane rule prohibiting more than two speeches per Senator per topic and wait out the filibuster. That’s something that will require careful planning and discipline on the majority’s part. When Senate Majority Leader McConnell invoked Rule-Something, Sen. Warren was prohibited from speaking on the topic again.

      This was a test of McConnell’s political muscle and skill. It gives him practice and knowledge should he decide to use the tactic of waiting out the filibuster.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        Contrast McConnel’s example with with the Senate Judiciary Committee chair’s conduct.

        Well, and he certainly did carry water for Sessions, and it’s well to note how he did it. But he was juggling two agendas, too.

        Reply
      • posted by Houndentenor on

        The point is that not a single Republican voted against Sessions, an unrepentant racist who tried to prevent black people from voting. He’s now the AG. Not even one of the “moderates” voted for him. The GOP is racist. They made that perfectly clear by confirming Sessions. If you are Republican and claim not to be racist you are a liar or delusional.

        Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      What’s the point of that little exchange in the Senate?

      The relevant question is why, amongst all of the many thousands of words spoken during the Sessions filibuster, did Mrs. King’s 30-year-old letter — which pointed out Senator Sessions’ critical role in Alabama voter suppression — strike such a nerve that the Republican leadership had to resort to “political correctness” and stop Senator Warren from reading it?

      Could it be that Mrs. King’s letter hit too close to home?

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        I’m not sure why you’re questioning the objectionableness of resurfacing a provocative and deceptive character assassination that has been thoroughly discredited at the confirmation hearing, except for the purposes of using the late and highly respected wife of Martin Luther King Jr. as a human shield of sorts and luring people into “impugning” her character (or making a false accusation of such) when in reality the fault lies with Warren and others in the present time. I will step around that human shield. You will stop exploiting the dead for your cheap political purposes. There was nothing decent about Elizabeth Warren’s complicity in that cheap and tawdry political trick. That was pure partisan character assassination, and of someone who, as a fellow Senator, she should know better about to know it was a misrepresentation of him.

        That Warren’s actions happened to be a violation of Senate rules in these hyperpartisan times is simply a red herring. I think McConnell simply chose to make an example of someone at the very first opportunity he had.

        Reply
        • posted by Houndentenor on

          How interesting that no one has disputed the facts cited in Mrs King’s statement. We all know the charges are true. The attack on Warren is that she dared say it out loud. Sessions is racist and there is ample evidence to prove that. Also, that Senate rule is ignored all the time. It was invoked to keep Warren from presenting evidence that ought to have disqualified Session if the rest of the Senate Republicans weren’t just as racist as he is.

          Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      The purpose is to argue that the people who cry “racism” are themselves the racists.

      So which do you think was the bigger racist — MLK or Barrack Obama? Kool-Aid Konservatives can’t seem to decide.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        The question is moot, and I’m a moderate. Ask me about John Lewis vs. the NAACP and I’ll show you some real indecisiveness.

        Coretta Scott King has never taken a position on Jeff Sessions’s nomination as Attorney General. How she navigated the turbulent ’70s and ’80s and the milder years of the Clinton administration is a known quantity. I just don’t know what it is–class doesn’t get you a lot of attention.

        Reply
        • posted by Houndentenor on

          Of course not, but she did take a strong position against Sessions being appointed as a judge. Republicans (who had a majority in the Senate in 1986) decided not to confirm him based on many things including that evidence. Those charges are still there but somehow don’t matter. This is obviously a very different, and far more racist, GOP than 31 years ago.

          Reply
  5. posted by TJ on

    so it was wrong to say ANYTHING bad about Republican celebrities performing at Trump swearing ceremony, but its OK to censor Madonna and a US Senator?

    Reply
  6. posted by JohnInCA on

    I’m reminded of the”Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

    The White House is busy labeling everything critical of it as “fake news”. At this point when some real “fake news” pops up, who is going to believe the White House? Pathological liars with victim complexes aren’t believed.

    Reply
  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I’m reminded of the”Boy Who Cried Wolf”. The White House is busy labeling everything critical of it as “fake news”.

    Along those lines, ‘Fake news’ has now lost all meaning in today’s Washington Post:

    Once upon a time (like, three months ago), “fake news” had a precise meaning. It referred to total fabrications — made-up stories about Donald Trump suffering a heart attack or earning the pope’s endorsement — and the phrase burst into the political lexicon as Facebook and Google vowed to clean up some of the garbage that had polluted the Internet during the presidential election.

    Since then, conservatives — led by President Trump — have hijacked the term and sought to redefine it as, basically, any reporting they don’t like. At the extreme end of absurdity, Trump actually asserted on Monday that “any negative polls are fake news.”

    Many conservatives outside the White House have swallowed the Kool-Aid, too. Witness the thoughful, ever interesting way in which James Kirchick lumps unlikes together as “fake news” — (1) overstated opinion that has a basis in fact (e.g. the claims about Pence), (2) disagreement about the validity of claimed facts (e.g. the dispute over the nature, cause and extent of climate change), (3) differing interpretations of the facts (e.g. the administrations claim that the Orlando attack was “underreported” in the media) and (4) outright (alt-Right?) fabrications (e.g. the President’s claim that the murder rate in the US is now higher than it has been in 45-47 years).

    At this point when some real “fake news” pops up, who is going to believe the White House?

    Trump supporters will believe the White House. Always. Completely.

    I had a funny (but somewhat sad) conversation with a liberal friend this morning.

    After we got the latest grandkid news out of the way, I got to chiding her about the fact that the Women’s March in Madison (which had about 25,000 participants) didn’t make the national news — the reports were all about Washington, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and so on — and her fifteen seconds of fame was lost forever.

    She told me that when she got home that night, her sister, a Trump True Believer, was all agitated about the violence and destruction at the march. My friend told her sister that there is none, that the march was peaceful and without incident, but her sister told her, in no uncertain terms, that there was lots but that the crooked media was suppressing it.

    Now I know both these women quite well, and both are intelligent, smart women. But you’d never know that from listening to that story. That’s what we are facing.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Properly formatted:

      I’m reminded of the”Boy Who Cried Wolf”. The White House is busy labeling everything critical of it as “fake news”.

      Along those lines, ‘Fake news’ has now lost all meaning in today’s Washington Post:

      Once upon a time (like, three months ago), “fake news” had a precise meaning. It referred to total fabrications — made-up stories about Donald Trump suffering a heart attack or earning the pope’s endorsement — and the phrase burst into the political lexicon as Facebook and Google vowed to clean up some of the garbage that had polluted the Internet during the presidential election.

      Since then, conservatives — led by President Trump — have hijacked the term and sought to redefine it as, basically, any reporting they don’t like. At the extreme end of absurdity, Trump actually asserted on Monday that “any negative polls are fake news.”

      Many conservatives outside the White House have swallowed the Kool-Aid, too. Witness the thoughful, ever interesting way in which James Kirchick lumps unlikes together as “fake news” — (1) overstated opinion that has a basis in fact (e.g. the claims about Pence), (2) disagreement about the validity of claimed facts (e.g. the dispute over the nature, cause and extent of climate change), (3) differing interpretations of the facts (e.g. the administrations claim that the Orlando attack was “underreported” in the media) and (4) outright (alt-Right?) fabrications (e.g. the President’s claim that the murder rate in the US is now higher than it has been in 45-47 years).

      At this point when some real “fake news” pops up, who is going to believe the White House?

      Trump supporters will believe the White House. Always. Completely.

      I had a funny (but somewhat sad) conversation with a liberal friend this morning.

      After we got the latest grandkid news out of the way, I got to chiding her about the fact that the Women’s March in Madison (which had about 25,000 participants) didn’t make the national news — the reports were all about Washington, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and so on — and her fifteen seconds of fame was lost forever.

      She told me that when she got home that night, her sister, a Trump True Believer, was all agitated about the violence and destruction at the march. My friend told her sister that there is none, that the march was peaceful and without incident, but her sister told her, in no uncertain terms, that there was lots but that the crooked media was suppressing it.

      Now I know both these women quite well, and both are intelligent, smart women. But you’d never know that from listening to that story. That’s what we are facing.

      Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      What other conspiracy theories does the sister believe in? Because you have to remember, is not just that the media doesn’t *report* in stuff, it’s that they somehow keep all the bloggers, tweeters, Instagrammers, Facebookers and so-on from reporting too.

      And three problem with using conspiracy theorists as your base is that, once you fail to do, well, anything, they’ll conclude you’re in on it too. I don’t suspect the conspiracy theorist crowd will continue to support President Trump after he’s become “the man”.

      Reply
  8. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The Hill columnist John Feehery writes …

    The times I’ve seem Feehery on television he always seems to be in a staccato uproar about something.

    The Democrats, and more than a few Never Trump Republicans, imagine themselves to be brave, solitary figures standing against the rise of a brutal dictator. That[‘s] ridiculous.

    Yes it is. The liberals and progressives I know are going to fight back against the President’s excesses, and fight hard, but the number of people who fit Feehery’s overwrought description are few and far between. I do know a handful of very frightened people, but not many.

    We not only have plenty of institutional checks and balances arrayed against any potential dictator. We also are, as a people, a nation that takes its liberties pretty seriously. … We might have our fair share of disagreements, but we have a constitutional process to resolve them amicably, without bloodshed.

    True, but we have to take our liberty seriously enough to exercise the checks and balances, to demand that they be put into play, to keep the pressure on our elected representatives, if we are to blunt this President’s authoritarian impulses.

    When I see the President accusing Senator McCain of “emboldening the enemy”, describing a center-right Bush-appointed federal judge as a “so-called judge”, lashing out at the 9th Circuit panel and the judiciary in general, and well, I need not go on, I see an administration that is dominated by a President who seems to have little or no impulse control and little or no respect for our system of checks and balances. And at this point, I don’t see any significant pushback from conservatives.

    That worries me, however much I trust the American people and our system of checks and balances. Our freedom comes at a cost, and that cost is often high.

    Reply
  9. posted by Jorge on

    “The Democrats, and more than a few Never Trump Republicans, imagine themselves to be brave, solitary figures standing against the rise of a brutal dictator.

    That’s ridiculous. We not only have plenty of institutional checks and balances arrayed against any potential dictator. We also are, as a people, a nation that takes its liberties pretty seriously.”

    That’s an awfully silly argument. Who does he think makes up those “checks and balances”, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s warts?

    Yo, Democrats and Never-Trumpkins. You didn’t build those checks and balances or liberties. Somebody else made that happen.

    Witness the thoughful, ever interesting way in which James Kirchick lumps unlikes together as “fake news” — (1) overstated opinion that has a basis in fact (e.g. the claims about Pence), (2) disagreement about the validity of claimed facts (e.g. the dispute over the nature, cause and extent of climate change), (3) differing interpretations of the facts (e.g. the administrations claim that the Orlando attack was “underreported” in the media) and (4) outright (alt-Right?) fabrications (e.g. the President’s claim that the murder rate in the US is now higher than it has been in 45-47 years).

    Oops.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to embrace fads into our vocabulary.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to embrace fads into our vocabulary.

      Nothing wrong with plain English if you aren’t trying to pull wool over someone’s eyes.

      Reply

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