Some time ago, I made a vow to avoid talking about conservative/neocon/Teabagger idiocy with any real frequency. My reasoning at the time was that those weren’t matters of import. The point should be to cover and opine on things that have an actual effect on the world around us, not just be a political tabloid.
What I should have mentioned, however, is that occasionally right-wing bullshit has a rather profound effect on that world.
Take the story of Breitbart and Tucker Carlson heavily editing and lying about statements made by one black USDA official to make her sound both racist and acting in a racist manner on behalf of the USDA. The problem, aside from the obvious that the whole story was a fabrication, is that after this woman was fired… she didn’t get re-hired.
There’s a rather frightening timeline that comes along with these fake stories:
- Some conservative propaganda outlet (Drudge, Rush, New York Post, Breitbart) breathlessly “breaks” some story that shows what the horrible libs are doing.
- The mainstream media picks up on the story either immediately or after being browbeaten by the rest of the right-wing media for “ignoring” the story.
- Action is taken in some manner or another to punish the parties involved.
- Lies are exposed as lies.
- Part #3 is not resolved.
You can make a list a mile long. Half of the 2004 presidential campaign was eaten up with Swiftboat nonsense, all of which turned out to be lies, and no effort was made by anyone to repair the damage to John Kerry’s campaign and reputation until long after he lost the election. ACORN lost their federal backing thanks to edited videotapes and heavily selective “reporting”, and thus far I’ve seen nothing to indicate that they’ll be getting anything back. This woman loses her job and there’s no push to get her re-instated. That’s just three, there are many more examples.
There’s an old saying that a lie repeated often enough becomes truth. Another one that says what happened doesn’t matter, only what you can convince people happened. What we’re seeing is an expert exploitation of this fact.
What’s the cause? There could be a few. I suspect one is the fear of being assumed liberal, and one is the desperate desire to be ahead of the competition. Some story “breaks” on a right-wing website and the old MSM wants to make sure they get the scoop, so they just run along with it without doing any checking. Next thing you know, there are House Resolutions and White House statements based on what was reported, and no one digs in to see if it was even true.
It’s pathetic, and that’s how things seem to work these days. And there’s an interesting secondary point: the people who originated the story knew that they were lying, and did so simply to destroy someone’s reputation and cause trouble for them, so isn’t that libel? I say yes, but again, I don’t suspect much will be done.