Shorter Red State: “Yes, Our David Hogg Article Was Wrong, But It’s CBS’s Fault”

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The far-right outlet Red State ran an “article” that claimed Parkland shooting survivor turned student activist David Hogg wasn’t actually at school the day of the shooting:

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Did this “revelation” come about by means of traditional journalism? Hardly. It came from Sarah Rumpf, who went on the internet and compared a bunch of interviews and Just Asked Questions (known as “JAQing off” in some circles). The claim that Hogg wasn’t at school came from comparing two different interviews. In one with CBS, Hogg said he got on his bike and rode to his school as fast as he could; the school is three miles away.

This led Rumpf to believe Hogg had told two different stories, but the reality was that what Hogg was referring to was later that day after the shooting, around 6pm, when he returned to the school grounds to interview classmates. And so we have this.

Did Rumpf attempt to contact CBS to clarify before publishing? Nah. And when they found out they were wrong, their retraction didn’t exactly communicate any ownership of what they’d done:

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Yeah, it was CBS’s fault. They tricked you into believing that Hogg was lying. Or, you know, they’re real journalists and the fools at Red State aren’t, so they’re not as easily confused.

The problem is that the damage is done. Yes, it’s good that Red State offered a retraction. (Not that I’m giving them any credit—real news sites offer retractions when inaccurate information is reported, but Red State isn’t a real news site, and it’s a far-right site, too, which is why it’s almost surprising they bothered to retract the article.) But the disinformation is already out there, and Serious Conservatives© such as Erick Erickson helped to spread it:

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(Erickson deleted that tweet and later tweeted the correction. Any apology? Nah.)

Even if Red State revised the article heavily, the idea is out there. It gives credence to the conspiracy theorists, who, like all right-wing pundits for some reason, have an unhealthy obsession with going after Hogg. Remember the one where people pointed out Hogg’s father is a retired FBI agent, so Hogg must have been a plant at the fake school shooting?

That’s been the strategy of the vast majority of the right in response to these students. They don’t argue with the ideas. They attack their character. Or they just make stuff up.

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Breitbart’s Readership Dries Up

A report from Politico gives some details about Breitbart’s evaporating readership:

The site dropped from 15 million unique visitors in October, per comScore, to 13.7 million in November, 9.9 million in December, 8.5 million in January and 7.8 million in February.

Its comScore figure for January was down 51 percent from the same month a year earlier, and the February number was down 49 percent from 2017. Last month was the site’s least trafficked since February 2015, four months before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president.

But readers aren’t disappearing because they’ve finally realized that they’re drinking from a propaganda cooler. Rather, the departure of Steve Bannon from both the White House as well as Breitbart has left the site without much of a strong sense of direction. Even more, it’s that Breitbart is no longer the unique extreme right-wing bugle it used to be, and Fox News has finally caught up and gone all-in for Trump:

Rob Faris, research director at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, said Breitbart’s rise was in some ways facilitated by Fox News being slow to embrace Trump.

“A big part of Breitbart’s success was that there was a niche to be filled that Fox News was not able to fill at that point,” said Faris, who co-authored a study on the conservative media ecosystem during the election. But now, with Fox‘s prime-time hosts having fully embraced the president, he says, “The role, the importance of Breitbart is diminished.”

Meaning there isn’t any less of an audience for the kookery and conspiracy theories that is Breitbart’s stock-in-trade; it means that more traditional outlets like Fox have instead retaken their mantel and are spewing even more insane propaganda than they were before. In some ways this is actually worse because, according to a PPP poll from late February of 2017, Breitbart isn’t a trusted news source—even among Trump supporters—but Fox is a trusted news source—even among a decent percentage of Clinton voters (as well as Johnson and Stein voters):

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Here are the results concerning Fox News:

ppp news1

So, yeah. Maybe Breitbart’s struggling to find its voice in the wake of the departure of the Dear Leader Steve Bannon, but because we live in a capitalist system in which the demand for nonsense from lunatic right-wingers is met with handsome supply, there will never be a void of popular far-right extremist “news.”

Why Can’t the Right Just Admit They’re Not Serious About Solving Gun Problems?

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Here’s the latest stupid suggestion on how to deal with mass shootings from Rick Santorum:

CNN commentator and former Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Rick Santorum on Sunday suggested students protesting for gun control legislation would be better served by taking CPR classes and preparing for active shooter scenarios.

“How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” Santorum said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Their problem,” of course, is being shot by people armed with semiautomatic rifles, and it’s one Santorum makes out to be their problem and not anyone else’s problem. Not their parents’. Not their schools’. Not their police departments’. And apparently, if Santorum had his way, not the problem of their representatives in government. It’s not even the problem of people who get shot in similar fashion outside of schools.

Learning CPR to be able to assist people who have been shot in the face is a stupid idea. It’s almost as stupid as saying kids ought to use time in art craft to refashion discarded Coke cans into bulletproof vests instead of haranguing decent folks like Marco Rubio to try and do something about child murder. I mean, sheesh.

NRA: “We Hate Kids Now, Too”

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The NRA keeping it classy:

No kidding, you idiots.

It’s interesting that the NRA has decided to add teenagers and children to the list of things that your right-wing uncle now has to have unbridled hatred for, like football and the FBI and porn stars and Keurig machines. And they used to love all that stuff!

I Wouldn’t Be Surprised if a Right-Wing Pundit Says He Wishes the Students Protesting Today Were the Ones Who Got Shot Instead

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Today in America and across the globe, the March for Our Lives protests are taking place:

Tens of thousands of people, outraged by a recent massacre at a South Florida school and energized by the students who survived, are spilling out in public protest in Washington and communities across the world on Saturday as they call for an end to gun violence.

The student activists, many of them sharp-tongued and defiant in the face of politicians and gun lobbyists, have kept attention on the issue in a time of renewed political activism on the left, as they helped lead a national school walkout and pushed state officials in Floridato enact gun legislation. The effectiveness of the students’ efforts will be measured, in part, on the success of Saturday’s events — their most ambitious show of force yet.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, students started speaking out, and they weren’t kind about it, either. A few of those students, like David Hogg, became the unofficial spokespeople for this movement of young people calling for gun control. Unsurprisingly, those on the right have decided they love their guns so much that the best course of action would be to attack the survivors of school shootings.

From Donald Trump, Jr:

On Tuesday, the president’s son Donald J. Trump Jr. liked a pair of tweets that accused David Hogg, a 17-year-old who is among the most outspoken of the Parkland students, of criticizing the Trump administration in an effort to protect his father, whom Mr. Hogg has described as a retired F.B.I. agent.

From the same article, Gateway Pundit, Alex Jones, and Rush Limbaugh:

Gateway Pundit has argued that Mr. Hogg had been coached on what to say during his interviews. The notion that Mr. Hogg is merely protecting his father dovetails with a broader right-wing trope, that liberal forces in the F.B.I. are trying to undermine President Trump and his pro-Second Amendment supporters.

Others offered more sweeping condemnations. Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist behind the site Infowars, suggested that the mass shooting was a “false flag” orchestrated by anti-gun groups. Mr. Limbaugh, on his radio program, said of the student activists on Monday: “Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the N.R.A. and guns.”

From Republican congressmen:

On CNN, former congressman Jack Kingston warned that Stoneman Douglas’ teens could be a front for liberal groups funded, naturally, by George Soros. “Their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda,” he said. “Do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?”

From Ben Shapiro at National Review:

What, pray tell, did these students do to earn their claim to expertise? They were present during a mass shooting, and they have the right point of view, according to the Left.

From Jonah Goldberg, also at National Review:

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From Erick Erickson:

From Robert Tracinski at The Federalist:

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Lou Dobbs:

DOM GIORDANO: That’s what the march is gonna be about tomorrow, Lou. As you know, I’m an educator, and I see these kids, the Parkland kids, a couple of them are out of control.

LOU DOBBS (HOST): Isn’t that disgusting? I mean, we’re tuning in to high school assemblies, to get the aggregated wisdom of 18 year olds. I mean, this is really —

GINA LOUDON: Who by their own words, Lou, say that they shouldn’t be able to own guns even though they can go to war but they think that they should be able to make laws. None of this makes any sense at all. And the very fact that we are giving such gravitas to people who just — they haven’t had enough life experience, yet, Lou, to be experts on much of anything yet. And I don’t think — it’s not insulting them to say that.

[…]

GIORDANO: I have to say too, Lou, as an educator, there’s a couple of these kids that are just rude in the way that they proceed here, as if they are bulletproof, so to speak. But the media is almost laundering their own opinions through these kids.

And then there are those who want to say that it’s actually the right who are the victims here, not the students. Like Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post:

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I’m not even going to show you what’s been showing up in places like Breitbart. And in case you hadn’t guessed, the comments sections at Breitbart and Fox and the like are their usual cesspools. The supposedly “respectable” conservatives can’t help but take pot shots at these students, even if they’re doing so in a way that makes it look as though the eternal bogeyman “The Left” is taking advantage of them. But a lot of right-wing pundits are pulling their hair out, insane with anger that they’re getting attention in the national spotlight and that the media won’t see that it’s the right who are the real victims here.

That’s why I won’t be surprised when some right-wing idiot—be it a sitting or former congressperson, pundit or guest, op-ed columnist, or radio host—says he wishes it were today’s protesters who had been shot instead. Today’s protests promise to be huge, and there will be someone on the right who will be so furious and so desperate to try and level the playing field that he’ll say something really outrageous. He’ll apologize, probably, but the message will be out there, and it will be one lots of Republicans agree with. That’s how bad things are.

It Doesn’t Matter What’s in the Nunes “Memo”

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And I’ll show you why. Here’s what the normal reaction should be:

But here’s the right-wing reaction:

It doesn’t matter what’s in the memo. The right will make it seem as though it is the most egregious breach of power in the history of the universe in order to further their persecution complex. The memo could be hand drawings of penguins and they would still do this. The job of the right-wing media isn’t to report the news—it’s to spin it in order to make themselves look like victims of a worldwide conspiracy.

Dan McLaughlin Is Not a Serious Person

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If you’re wondering what kind of “prayerful” people are the kind that would attend the March for Life, you can be sure they’re the same kind of people who spend their weekends at abortions clinics yelling at women. Besides, the notion of any lack of vulgarity is countered by the fact that many of them are also supporting of Donald Trump, an unspeakably vulgar man himself.

It’s also apropos to revisit the violent history of anti-abortion protesters (“A Brief History of Deadly Attacks on Abortion Providers,” New York Times, 11/29/2015):

At least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics in the United States since 1993, including the Colorado attack. The most recent victims were Garrett Swasey, a police officer at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and a part-time church pastor; Ke’Arre M. Stewart, a former Army specialist who served in Iraq; and Jennifer Markovsky, a woman from Hawaii who was at the clinic with a friend.

And just for good measure, here’s McLaughlin making a comparison between the Women’s March and the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville (where they murdered Heather Heyer) without explicitly drawing a comparison, just because he’s enough of a weenie to want to be able to wiggle out of it:

Yeah. What a weenie. And a National Review writer, too.

Another New York Times Collection of Trump Voter Kookery

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On Thursday, the New York Times decided to fill up its entire Opinion page with letters from Trump fans who are, you guessed it, still Trump fans, because apparently dispatching reporters to talk to cowhands and ex-miners in local diners in towns like Dogbutt, NC, once a week isn’t enough. I’ve selected a few bits that are sure to make your head spin (“‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone,'” New York Times, 1/17/2018):

I loved George W. Bush, but he failed on policy over and over again. If it takes putting up with Mr. Trump’s brash ways to see things get done, that is a deal I’m willing to accept. To be honest, I’m not sure he would have accomplished what he has so far without being an unrelenting public bully.

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And because of Mr. Trump we have an education secretary who actually cares more about educating children than appeasing the teachers’ unions.

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When asked during the campaign about his truthfulness, he replied that maybe he is too truthful. He does ruffle feathers, but seems to end up being right about most important things.

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I’ve voted twice in my life: once for myself when I ran for Congress 10 years ago, and once for Donald Trump last year.

Same weirdo:

How’s he doing? He has turned a fragile nation “anti-fragile” (the scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term). Before Mr. Trump, we were scared of any volatility. Oh no, ISIS! Oh no, banks! The more chaos there was, the worse we were.

Now volatility is our friend. The more chaos, the better!

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I do not understand why people still believe anything that the media, or politicians and pundits who have an agenda, say.

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Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.

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After voting for Democrats for over 60 years I voted for President Trump.

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These two are great back-to-back:

He has undone many of President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders.

And the next guy:

I am very happy with the number of executive orders he’s passed

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Before I respond to your questions, I have a question of my own: Did you run similar surveys for Obama voters? Or, for that matter, Eisenhower voters? Trump voters are not circus freaks to be displayed or singled out.

This last guy asks a question I’ve asked a few times on this blog: Trump voters are endlessly probed, whereas Clinton or Obama voters are rarely, if ever, asked what they think about anything, even though there are millions more of them.

The answer, though, is obvious, however annoying the constant updates from “Trump country” are. As the excerpts from the letters above demonstrate, Trump supporters are analyzed by the media because it’s fascinating to see people who are completely impervious to reality. It doesn’t matter what Trump does or says; they are able to redefine their reality accordingly. They have been convinced that the eight years of Obama were the worst years of their lives, and they have also been convinced that maybe Trump’s tweets are stupid, but they are not dangerous and his “achievements” outweigh them anyhow. My personal guess is that most of the people who believe this have not seen many tangible changes in their lives one way or the other that can be directly attributed to what they believe, and yet they believe it anyway.

Right Now, People Blame Republicans for the Government Shutdown. Let’s See How Long That Lasts.

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According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, people are holding Trump and Republicans responsible for the government shutdown:

wapo poll

So Trump and his Republican congress have nearly a 20-point lead over Democrats. That’s not insignificant.

There’s a rather misleading title over at CNN, which claims that Democrats are in trouble because of the shutdown: “CNN poll: DACA not worth a shutdown, except to Democrats.” The way they’ve set it up, they make it look like Democrats are taking most of the blame:

cnn poll

Unlike the WaPo poll, the CNN poll had separate options for Trump and Republicans. Now, even if respondents wouldn’t collectively blame Trump and Republicans, all of them still aren’t blaming Democrats first, which means 47% of respondents are blaming either Trump or the Republicans in congress. Another poll from Quinnipiac found that “32% would blame Republicans, 21% Trump and 34% Democrats,” meaning a whopping 53% of respondents blame Republicans one way or another.

Of course, the Fox News–watching base will always blame Democrats no matter what, and Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media will be working overtime to spin this as a dastardly plot by Democrats, as they have been in the week leading up to the shutdown. Right now, it’s not working.

Will it? I’m not sure. Even if there is some temporary hit for Democrats, we’re in an age when the president is likely to do or say something insane relatively soon, or some sort of humiliating detail about his life or administration will be leaked or uncovered and dominate the news cycle. And before you know it, Hannity will be back to investigating the latest Hillary “scandal.” So even if the right could turn this into a talking point, they’re too unfocused to do so at the moment. Which is good.

Government Shutdown When Republicans Control White House and Congress? Democrats’ Fault

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You’d think that because Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House, they’d be the ones who are first and foremost held responsible for the impending government shutdown, with the obvious exception of right-wing outlets like Fox News. But you’d be wrong. From the Boston Globe:

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From the article:

WASHINGTON — Democrats, whose brand as a party is based on government’s potential to positively affect lives, are seriously contemplating a government shutdown for the first time since Republicans won back Washington in last year’s elections.

Spurred on by a fired-up base who have declared themselves “the resistance” and the historically low approval ratings of President Trump, Democrats are now considering withholding their votes to fund the government until they get a deal to protect young unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children.

The government shuts down Friday at midnight if Congress doesn’t act.

And here’s a clip from ABC World News Tonight:

It’s the Republicans’ own fault they’re in this bind in the first place. In their endless delays of passing a real budget, and by attempting to pass anything and everything through the House and Senate by reconciliation (rather than, you know, compromising with the minority party in order to get a normal and not minimal amount of votes), the Republicans are now in a position in which the government will shut down Friday night if they don’t pass something. They need Democratic votes. Are they doing much in the way of negotiating? Nope. And yet it’s still Democrats’ fault.

It seems lots of people have forgotten that Trump thought a government shutdown was a good idea back in May, probably because he didn’t know what it even meant:

And, judging by this tweet,

it would appear that, yes, Trump is either stupid enough (very probable) to believe a government shutdown would also shut down the American military, or he’s deceitful enough (also very probable) to lie about it.

Now, Republicans came up with a plan to keep the federal government funded through February 16 in order to (supposedly) work on negotiations with Democrats on CHIP, but that no longer seems likely:

With a possible government shutdown looming this weekend, the House had planned to vote late Thursday on a stopgap spending bill that would keep government funding flowing to Feb. 16 as delicate negotiations continue to protect young, undocumented immigrants brought illegally as children from deportation.

But by midday Thursday, the chances of a shutdown appeared to be rising. Efforts to negotiate a broader budget deal that would protect young undocumented immigrants, raise spending for military and domestic programs and fund children’s health care had been making progress until Mr. Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week. The ensuing uproar upended budget and immigration talks and emboldened Democrats. On Thursday, senior House Democrats introduced a resolution to censure the president for his words.

Republicans, hoping to keep the government open while tempers cool, turned to a one-month stopgap spending measure, but that gambit may be nearing a dead end. Illustrating the trouble, Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, whose constituents include hundreds of thousands of federal workers, announced together that they would oppose the temporary spending bill. They had been seen as among the most likely yes votes in the Senate, where Republican leaders need at least nine Democrats to support the bill.

And guess who else decided to weigh in on the matter:

There are a lot of Democratic and left-leaning voices that seem convinced voters will not blame them for a shutdown. We know that among Republicans and especially the Trump cultists, this isn’t true. The whole point of right-wing media, and to a lesser extent the ‘both sides’ function of the mainstream press, is to shift blame to Democrats when convenient. Despite controlling congress for years under Obama and being obstructionist, the Republicans, now controlling the White House and congress, are claiming it’s the Democrats who are the real obstructionists. I’ll bet just about anything it works—if not completely, then at least well enough.