All right, I admit it. I’m evil.
But then you knew that.
I’m evil for insisting that letter-writers leave out debunked falsehoods. I’m certainly evil for asking, if neither Stephanie nor I can find something, that writers (columnists, too) provide their sources. And yep, I’m evil for asking people to keep it clean, as the Democrat-Gazette is a family newspaper.
Sure, we could just run everything we receive, though, in addition to random falsehoods, that would include every letter that comes in from people who just can’t wait 30 days (or 30 minutes or even 30 seconds, in some cases), as well as those full of expletives and other non-family friendly/breakfast-test worthy bon mots.
Any letters editor at a daily newspaper like ours who tells you every letter is printed is not being honest. We simply can’t, due both to volume and to content that proves to be unusable for one reason or another, most often for things that aren’t true.
“But the Internet said,” I hear you saying. As we’ve learned, the Internet is not always right (gasp!), and some people have a hard time distinguishing satire from reality.
I’m not talking about the usually funny, mostly well-done stuff, like that from Andy Borowitz and The Onion. Sure, people often do believe in what Borowitz and The Onion write, but they’re generally chuckle-worthy and well-written.
No, this would be the unfunny “news” found on sites that specialize in manufacturing content which really isn’t all that funny and that, unfortunately, all too many people believe. No, World News Daily Report is not a reliable source, nor is News Examiner. The “satire” tags and disclaimers should be a clue, but …
If I were to believe everything the Internet says, I’d believe:
♠ President Obama signed an executive order to rescind recognition of the pledge of allegiance.
This one, which originated on spoof website abcnews.com.co (that .co at the end is a dead giveaway), talks of Executive Order 13738, which it says bans the pledge in public schools and makes it “illegal for any federally funded agency to display the pledge or for any federal employee to recite, or encourage others to recite, the pledge while on duty.”
The real Executive Order 13738, however, has nothing to do with the pledge, and instead is about labor law and the government’s use of private contractors. The very dry order, signed on Aug. 23, amends an earlier order, 13673.
♠ Donald Trump told People magazine nearly 20 years ago that if he ever ran for president, he’d do so as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country” and that he “could lie and they’d still eat it up.”
FactCheck and People checked the People archives and found nothing similar to the quote in any year, and no Trump interviews at all in 1998 when it was supposedly printed. FactCheck also did a Nexis search and didn’t find any such quote by Trump in any major U.S. publication. It was also noted that a reference to Republicans believing everything Fox News tells them was odd, considering that Fox News didn’t have that much influence until a couple of years after the People interview was supposedly printed. This story started as a meme, and isn’t true. (Oh, say it isn’t so! Memes never lie!)
♠ Hillary Clinton cheated at the Commander-in-Chief forum by wearing an earpiece so her handlers/George Soros/Satan could feed her answers.
Light hitting a clean ear can look, from certain angles, like someone’s wearing an earwig, and that’s what it appears to be here. Snopes reported that an image by Getty Images photographer Brendan Smialowski was cropped to a head shot, then blown back up to show the light in Hillary’s ear, and for the conspiracy-minded, it might suggest an earpiece (or a hearing aid). However, other photos from the event show no such thing.
Some then accused Trump of the same thing, sharing a photo of him wearing an earpiece; however, it wasn’t from that event.
♠ “Peaceful” and “tolerant” liberals beat a female Trump supporter at a Trump rally.
Conservative Nation tweeted the image of a bloodied blonde posted by a Facebook user, but the image was actually a makeup test for Australian actress Samara Weaving on the campy Starz series Ash vs Evil Dead. Series star Bruce Campbell and others outed Weaving’s reappropriated Instagram image as a hoax.
Yes, there have been reported assaults by and against Trump supporters at rallies, but this wasn’t one of them, and the actress was none too happy that her set photo was being used for political purposes.
As Campbell tweeted, “Sad.”
And yep, it’s not the first time Trump supporters have pulled this. A photo, supposedly of a beaten Latina teen, was shared after the San Jose rally … but it was from a telenovela.
Oops. But at least some people can still have a sense of humor about it.
♠ Hillary Clinton is a felon who has committed (or directed) crimes including murder, treason, and racketeering.
Gotta love all the Hillary criminal stories. No, Hillary is not a warm and fuzzy person, but that doesn’t mean she’s guilty of anything other than a near-maniacal, misguided need for privacy that tends to direct so many of her actions. Yes, she’s done some politically stupid things (that email server comes instantly to mind). However, criminal charges have this strange requirement for evidence, and thus far, no charges have been filed against her for any scandal I could find, and thus, no convictions.
But sure, all the hoaxers and haters must be right; people with prickly personalities and anyone who’s ever told a lie should be in jail. That’ll larn ’em. Evidence, shmevidence!
Wait … I think that would mean there won’t be many people left on the outside …
I know some letter-writers are not fans of fact-checking, but if everything you’ve stated as fact is true, you should have nothing to fear. Threats, harassment, and dragging your feet on documentation for things we’re unable to track down don’t exactly help your case.
Seriously, we don’t like even the thought of lawsuits at the paper, and even though people like The Donald and Hillary are public figures, we won’t knowingly publish something that is false, or convict someone in print of something they haven’t been found guilty of in a court of law.
And no, we also won’t get in the middle of disputes with businesses, neighbors or anyone else, or do your research for you.
I know. Shame on us, spoiling all the fun.
Did you forget I’m evil?
Hoaxes like those above are ambrosia for conspiracy theorists (the nutty ones, anyway), and Hillary’s pneumonia and its effects … well, let’s just say these people are more than a little over-excited. From the body-double story to the cyborg theory (yes, really), it’s all been a bit much, especially considering that Trump and his supporters have been spreading all sorts of tales about her health.
The woman is 68 and has pneumonia, which isn’t aided by her schedule (and as a woman, she does have to work harder than a man would to prove capability). Anyone who’s had pneumonia or other respiratory ailments would understand that even a temperature of 79° with 40 percent humidity (the most frequent description I’ve seen of the weather in New York on Sunday) would quickly take its toll, especially if you’re running even a tiny bit of fever, so I have little trouble believing that she got overheated. And yep, I have the tendency to work when I’m ill, too.
She and her campaign handled the episode in the wrong manner, and should have gotten out in front of it, as the way the truth came out in dribs and drabs just seemed to strengthen her image as untrustworthy.
No, I’m still not a fan (I still like Limberbutt McCubbins), but I have to call BS on all the to-do over this. Emily Crockett of Vox nailed much of what I’ve been thinking. Seriously, if this had happened to Trump, would we see the kind of stories we’re seeing about Hillary? I highly doubt it, ’cause, ya know, he’s a guy (with tiny hands, but a guy).
And by the way, Donald, where are your actual medical records? And how ’bout those tax returns?