The Babylon Bee, as you should know by now, has taken over from “The Onion” as the hot political satire website, in part because its writers are excellent, and in part because its orientation is conservative. This is discomforting for progressives, who believe that the proper state of political humor must be all-conservative/Republican/Trump bashing all the time.
This, of course, not a healthy state of affairs, but for Democrats and progressive it is a useful one. How many network and cable comedy TV shows are there that essentially target only non-progressive positions and figures? Seven? More? How many are balanced, or chide the liberals and Democrats as their main prey? I count…none. Comedy, at least what remains of it after the scourge of political correctness and metaphorically castrated comics cowed into their place by the “cancel culture,” is now part of the Left’s indoctrination machine.
The allies of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media collective, what Ethics Alarms calls “the Axis of Unethical Conduct,” or the AUC, are annoyed by the very existence of a satire site that deftly points out its hypocrisy, lunacy and ugliness. Thus Snopes, the dishonest and partisan “factchecking” site, has repeatedly checked the facts on Babylon Bee stories that anyone with a functioning cerebrum should know were gags. This weak, a particularly deft Babylon Bee story really annoyed the AUC:
Perfect. Perfect. The embarrassing efforts by Democrats and media voices to falsely represent a murderous terrorist as a “revered foreign official” (as the Washington Post described him) is objectively revolting, and shows the depth of insane Trump hate, as I explained here. Because of its sharp and revealing..and funny… message, the piece was retweeted a half-million times. Naturally, it immediately came under attack by—“Surprise, surprise, surprise!“as Gomer Pyle used to say—CNN. Two reporters complained that “Some family members just called [because] their Republican friends on FB are circulating it like it’s legit.”
First, I don’t know how someone can circulate obvious satire as if it’s “legit.” Second, out of a half million or more people, it is inevitable that some will believe anything. Third, when observing the AUC reaction to the completely justifiable droning of this evil man, Poe’s Law applies in triplicate. The reaction of some of the Trump-deranged defies parody. Bernie Sanders, for example, called it the equivalent of Putin assassinating a political rival.
Then there’s the irony of news organizations like CNN, which have been flamboyantly trafficking in fake news during the entire Trump administration, complaining about satirical news stories that, unlike theirs, are not meant to deceive.
On one hand it’s annoying when another writer beats me to the punch on an issue; on the other, it does save me time. Here is The National Review’s David Harsanyi:
...There will always be chumps who fall for bogus news stories — in particular, bogus news stories that comport with their preconceived notions about the world. Yet media coverage of “disinformation” is a highly specialized concern. In 2006, more than half of Democrats still thought it likely, or somewhat likely, that George W. Bush had had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. I don’t remember panicky reporters signing up for the disinformation beat back then. Last I looked, 67 percent of Democrats believed it was “definitely true” or “probably true” that the Russkies had altered votes to get Donald Trump elected. Why no concern over this dangerous falsehood? Perhaps because the call is coming from inside the house….The Babylon Bee’s real crime, of course, is that it mocks all the wrong people. Many of the people it mocks, incidentally, are now part of a concerted effort to inhibit political speech — or to shame tech companies into inhibiting political speech. As always, a lot of this effort is nothing but cynical partisanship. But some of it taps into a longstanding anxiety about conservative susceptibility to deception. I mean, how else could these people possibly believe the dumb things they do — right?
I disagree with Harsanyi that “it’s good satire if people believe it.” That excuses the unethical fake news sites that aim to fool readers and news aggregators by getting them to post false but plausible stories. (You can find several of these if you click on the “Unethical website” category.) No Bee story is believable as fact unless someone only reads part of it (in some cases) or is a gullible fool. For example, here’s part of the “half-mast” piece:
A teary-eyed Barack Obama was also seen solemnly lowering the flag in front of his seaside mansion. “To think, this all could have been prevented with a few pallets of cash.” He sighed and stared off into the distance, a look of pain and regret on his face. “If only Trump had targeted a U.S. citizen with a drone strike instead.” Later, Democrats clarified they meant we should fly the Iranian flag at half-mast, not the “offensive and problematic” American flag.
The Babylon Bee once had text on its home page designating it as a satire site. If there is such text now, I can’t find it, and if it cannot be easily found (in previous posts I have suggested that satire sites should have such text at the top of the home page and on every other page), then it is not a genuine disclaimer.
The Bee is ethically obligated to make its role clear, even to morons,