The Washington Post’s two year old column dedicated to flagging web hoaxes is shutting down, because…well, you read the story and explain it to me, because I read the column twice, and I still don’t get it.
I think Caitlyn Dewey, whose beat this was, is complaining that there are too many hoaxes to track now, because there are now whole websites devoted to hoaxes (as Ethics Alarms has documented), that hoaxes are fed by confirmation bias (well, yes, everyone knew THAT in 2014) and partisan bloggers are sending out hoaxes as fear-mongering tactics. Dewey then mentions two terrorism-related hoaxes. In fact, every example she uses suggests that the increase in hoaxes comes from conservatives. It’s all because conservatives are so eager to believe untrue things, you see. She can’t keep up any more.
Which is funny, because it was Hillary Clinton who stated…
“We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
There is no evidence whatsoever that ISIS is using videos of Trump. If a fake news site had a headline, “ISIS USES VIDEOS OF TRUMP FOR RECRUITMENT,” that would be an internet hoax, and though Hillary Clinton would apparently fall for it, Dewey claims what has suddenly made internet hoaxes uncoverable is all those gullible people who no longer trust “institutions,” as in “government.” You know who those people are.
Then there are Dewey’s colleagues, journalists, like the ones at CNN who broadcast that “Ethan Couch’s attorney convinced the judge that the teen suffered from “‘Afflienza,” which is factually untrue. If that were a headline, I’d call it a hoax.
No, I’m not sure why the Washington Post is ending “What Was Fake,” but I know why hoaxes are harder than ever to identify, and its not all those evil conservatives believing made-up stories about Muslims, as Dewey implies. The reasons are that the conduct of conservatives and progressives are becoming equally unhinged (the recent Oberlin protest that the General Tso’s Chicken served in the dining halls was “cultural misappropriation” and racist, for example, is a hoax come to life); that political leaders are more audacious with their lies than ever (Hillary…Trump), and most of all, that the supposedly legitimate news media can’t be trusted either. Like, say, Caitlyn Dewey.
Hoaxes are, after all, just lies. It’s interesting to me that Dewey sees the fear of Muslims as creating fertile ground for hoaxes, but doesn’t mention the fear of guns being pandered to by demonstrably false statements like “more guns mean more deaths.” (The number of guns have risen since 1995 as the number of homicides have decreased.) Now if there are no guns at all, that’s something else. “More guns mean more deaths” as a headline would be a hoax. And if a Democratic Congressman says it rather than a website’s headline? A distinction without a difference.
The same goes for political memes, virtually all of which are gross misrepresentations that would be fiction if reduced to a headline. These are web hoaxes too, spread by social media, and widely believed due to the confirmation bias of progressives as well as conservatives.
Here’s my headline: Wapo Columnist Ends Web Hoax Feature, Blames Conservatives Because Of Her Own Biases.
It’s no hoax.
My detestation of web hoaxes of all kinds knows no bounds, but my regard for smugly partisan journalists like Caitlyn Dewey and the editors who don’t control this institutionalized dishonesty isn’t much higher. They are hoaxers too.