I ordinarily don’t let the news bother me personally, but this Comet pizza story is driving me nuts. It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed, if not behind this story, then another one. First, this story:
For some months now, Stefanie MacWilliams, 24, a stay-at-home mother of a 1-year-old boy in Ontario, has written nearly every day, usually about politics, for Planet Free Will, a conservative website based in the United States. Her husband, a mechanic, is the family’s main breadwinner, but MacWilliams has been earning some money, too, writing a lot about how good Trump would be for America, and a fair amount about how bad President Obama was.
Starting in early November, MacWilliams noticed that stories based on the Podesta emails were making waves. A friend “who knows I’m interested in politics and shares conspiracy things with me” sent MacWilliams stories about Comet Ping Pong.
…In the third paragraph of her story, MacWilliams wrote that “we must stress that there is as yet no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing.” She thought she was being quite responsible. She had read Internet chatter about strange happenings and code words, and she thought this needed investigation. She was miffed that Posobiec had been escorted out of Comet when his video tour might have gotten to the bottom of the mystery.
MacWilliams calls herself a journalist, but she does not try to be “100 percent accurate,” either. She believes the beauty of the Internet is that people can crowdsource the truth. Eventually, what is real will emerge, she said.
And sometimes, it emerges in the form of an unbalanced man armed with a powerful rifle, so he can rampage through a restaurant in search of the children he’s been led to believe are being held there as sex slaves.
And sometimes it’s an unbalanced woman:
MIAMI — A Florida woman has been charged with making death threats against the parent of a child who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre because she thought the attack was a hoax, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
…The threats were made in January 2016 — according to authorities — and included messages that said, “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,” and “LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH.” Court documents added that another threat said, “there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Yes, another big fake-news story, right there.
Finally, we’re into what’s-the-use territory, at least with some people:
The proliferation of fake and hyperpartisan news that has flooded into Americans’ laptops and living rooms has prompted a national soul-searching, with liberals across the country asking how a nation of millions could be marching to such a suspect drumbeat. But while some Americans may take the stories literally — like the North Carolina man who fired his gun in a Washington pizzeria on Sunday trying to investigate a false story spread online of a child-abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton — many do not.
The larger problem, experts say, is less extreme but more insidious. Fake news, and the proliferation of raw opinion that passes for news, is creating confusion, punching holes in what is true, causing a kind of fun-house effect that leaves the reader doubting everything, including real news.
…“Fake news is subjective,” Mr. Laughlin said. “It depends on who’s defining it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
I’ve been calling out fake news on Facebook since I first joined it, and only occasionally were people surprised to learn something was fake, and/or prompted to take it down. The prevailing attitude was, why you gotta be such a party-pooper? It’s a good story.
No wonder journalists get no respect. We’re always pissing in the whiskey.
Well, Wednesday was better than Tuesday. Perhaps Thursday will really peg the needle. The end of the year is always busy at my shop — performance reviews, book-closing, all that stuff. I never know what I’m doing from one day to the next in the scramble to get it all done, plus getting set up for the new year. I try to walk the dog around 5 most days, and it’s full dark this time of year. Six months ago, it barely counted as late afternoon.
Maybe Icelandic life wouldn’t suit me so well after all. But it’s certainly warmer in Reykjavik today.
BItter Scribe said on December 7, 2016 at 9:55 pm
Do you know the difference between the Sandy Hook “truther” loons and the National Review “gently” suggesting that the Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls was done by “a crazed Negro”?
Speed and volume of dissemination. That’s it.
Both cases involved a horrific attack on children. Both cases resulted from blind, stupid ideology–opposition to civil rights in one case, gun absolutism in the other. And in both cases, the partisans whose blind, stupid ideology was the root of the violence absolutely could not accept that dead children were the result, and so they made up fantasies in which the victims were to blame.
The only difference: In 1963, the National Review could only reach as far as its printed pages would take it. Lies about Sandy Hook, and anything else, can multiply exponentially in the blink of an eye.
Don’t blame the technology. Blame those who are so utterly committed to destructive ideas that they simply refuse to see the destruction those ideas cause, no matter how blatant or hideous.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm
MichaelG, you don’t come across as self-absorbed at all. Congrats to you and Mother Lisa; sounds like teamwork is working.
If there’s any clear and compelling evidence that charter schools aren’t simply a tool, both in their for-profit AND non-profit forms, for private gain with minimal outcomes in general and a few marquee programs like KIPP to buffer that realization from the general public, I’ve not found it . . . and I’ve looked. Studies claiming to show that always have proven to have selective framing and skewed figures, or just are very picky about who gets considered to the benefit of the charter. When you look at the 19th century and early 20th pressure against Catholic schools, I can’t feel good about arguing for zero options other than public schools, but the entire charter movement has been a noxious flea-bitten camel getting not just the nose under the tent of public funding, but crawling all the way in and jostling to the front of the trough. And right now, they sure feel like the single most influential lobbyist group in state legislatures.
And in the South, the same folks who were ranting about Catholic/parochial schools in the 20s and 30s started opening them in the 50s and 60s to avoid integration.
Deborah said on December 7, 2016 at 10:26 pm
Low tonight in Santa Fe will be 14 or 15, much better than the 8 they were predicting earlier but the high the next few days will be in the 40s and 50s much warmer than usual for this time of year. The skiers are bummed.
I don’t even know what to think about the conspiracy theories, things have devolved so far in this world I’m ready to throw in the towel. No I’m not, really. I do have some fight left in me.
Sherri said on December 7, 2016 at 11:40 pm
One difference between then and now is that the incoming president hadn’t spent the last five years promoting a noxious conspiracy theory, amplifying conspiracy theories and naming conspiracy theory believing nutcases to positions like National Security Adviser.
Dexter said on December 8, 2016 at 2:32 am
BitterScribe: Cynthia Wesley,14 Carole Robertson,14 and Addie Mae Collins,14, & Denise McNair, 11.
This was the first horrible event I recall that really upset me, as I was the same age as those girls. I memorized the names many years ago, and made a pilgrimage to that church in 1968 when I was in Birmingham for a day, passing through.
This is the first time I heard of the “crazed negro” angle, but then, its been 53 years now. Decades passed before justice was served.
David C. said on December 8, 2016 at 6:11 am
I think I’ve written this before, but I have a RW friend who sent me a conspiracy theory e-mail. I don’t remember exactly what it was anymore, but it involved President Obama. I’m sure he heard it at every other Wednesday morning men’s bible study at his church. Anyway, I sent back information showing what he sent me was false. I got back a rather angry e-mail that said it may not have been factually correct, but it was essentially correct. In other words, he didn’t do it, but it’s something he would do, so I will be pissed about it anyway. How do you get through to that? I’ve got no clue.
ROGirl said on December 8, 2016 at 6:46 am
If we are getting into conspiracy theories… there’s the trilateral commission, the black helicopters, the federal reserve, the freemasons, the illuminati, and of course, the jews.
Linda said on December 8, 2016 at 7:08 am
The Post story made my blood boil. MacWilliams is a bored twit who is playing video games with real people’s lives and calling it journalism. So she thinks slapping a “nothing proved” label on makes the whole thing “responsible?” Gee, what if I wrote a story saying her and her husband were running a child porn ring, and slapped on that “nothing was proven?” Would she enjoy the ensuing thrill of the hunt then?
It is the mark of people who want power, but no accountability, a lot like Repubs who have wanted to kill the ACA, but are looking for Democratic buy-in, so they don’t have to take responsibility for doing what they want. Grown ups want both power and accountability.
alex said on December 8, 2016 at 7:17 am
Fake news has been around for a long while. I remember before Obama was elected to his first term getting into an argument with a now former friend who was trying to tell me that Obama’s Harvard law degree was a forgery, in addition to the questions about his foreign birth. I asked her to explain that if this were so, how did he serve as president of the Harvard Law Review, and wouldn’t there be people from his graduating class claiming that he was never there? Her answer: 1) Affirmative Action; and 2) There are such people and she’s read their stories.
This nutty woman recently called me out of the blue for some job-seeking advice. I had none to offer, but probably should have warned against talking about politics at job interviews.
I had no idea that there were so many people susceptible to this kind of nonsense. My sense of belonging in my partner’s family has totally fallen apart since a few members have begun making politics central to every discussion. I like his German relatives who visited over the summer. They confided to my partner’s mom that out of all of her children and their spouses we were their favorites. I think my partner’s mom is the only member of that family who voted for Hillary. She grew up in WWII Germany and views Trump as warily as I do.
Suzanne said on December 8, 2016 at 7:20 am
OH, my, David C. I know what you mean. A former co-worker of mine posts stuff on Facebook and when he’s called out on the falsehood of the story, he, too, often uses the “Well, it could happen!” excuse. He says he’s just warning people. Scary thing is that this guy has several Master’s degrees so he’s not stupid. I once engaged him on his denial that Ted Cruz appeared at a rally of some sort with a guy who advocates executing gays. The first 2 articles I shared with him he said were from sources he didn’t recognize and so were moot. The NY Times article I shared didn’t have a much better outcome. You guessed it…too liberal.
I have mentioned my other former co-worker here who is all in with the Bilderbergers, etc. According to him, 9/11 an inside job, Sandy Hook faked, Miracle on the Hudson planned. He was flummoxed after the election, though, because he believed the controlling forces were going to ensure a Hillary win.
I do seem to attract odd co-workers…
Sue said on December 8, 2016 at 7:48 am
You know what we need today? Puppies. Puppies and a teeny bit of baseball.
Julie Robinson said on December 8, 2016 at 8:22 am
More puppies, yes, please. This is the same crap I’ve been fighting with my Iowa family members since I was old enough to think for myself, and it’s scary to see it taking over the country.
Some kitties would be nice too.
Jim Sweeney said on December 8, 2016 at 8:32 am
I vow to use the phrase “pissing in the whiskey” in conversation before the end of the week. It’s right up there with my former boss’ favorite, “. . . not to be the turd in the punchbowl, but …” Thanks, Nancy.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 9:10 am
What Bitter Scribe said, at #1.
The new thing about ‘fake news’ is the speed, and the (seeming) parity of websites.
NY Times/WaPost/FoxNews/CNN etc all ‘look’ equally credible, on their websites (and not for nothing, I think they all have their share of click-bait ‘fake news’ links on them)
Deborah said on December 8, 2016 at 9:13 am
Maybe it’s a thyroid deficiency, this happened to my niece when she was in her early twenties. She started to get extremely paranoid. She thought her landlady was listening to everything that was going on in her apartment through hidden microphones, and that people on the bus were talking about her. My sister and my other nieces were afraid that she was showing signs of schizophrenia. But it turned out that my niece had stopped taking her medication for her thyroid condition (for years) because she couldn’t afford it. Once they figured that out and got her back on her meds she was back to normal. So now I’m starting a new conspiracy theory that all of these people who are so paranoid and believe all the fake news crap have a thyroid deficiency, and it’s effecting their mental health. It’s somehow more comforting for me to think that, than that there are just a shit ton of mean spirited idiots out there.
Deborah said on December 8, 2016 at 9:20 am
Kirk said on December 8, 2016 at 9:27 am
Deborah, the pandemic thyroid deficiency is obviously a result of the vapor trails filled with anti-thyroid chemicals being strewn through the air by various invisible UN aircraft.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 9:29 am
Deborah – I’d say it’s ‘something in the water’ (put there on purpose, of course!) – but President-elect Trump’s cabinet is beginning to look a lot like President Merkin Muffley’s, with all the same generals
Jenine said on December 8, 2016 at 9:36 am
“Pissing in the […]” is a familiar construction to me but “peg the needle” is the phrase I don’t know. Is it a car term — make an engine indicator needle go all the way up? Clearly Nancy means ‘maybe Thursday will be even better’ above.
Jolene said on December 8, 2016 at 11:00 am
After appoint an EPA administrator whose goal is not to,protect the environment but to roll back environmental regulations, DJT has appointed a Secretary of Labor whose goals are to hold down wages and automate as many jobs as possible .
Suzanne said on December 8, 2016 at 11:05 am
Kirk @ 17. The contrails!!!! Yes.
Just wait til the black helicopters start zooming overhead…
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 11:11 am
I think I shall refer to our new president as ‘DT’ (as in delirium tremens); especially as our country appears to be headed for 4 years of the DTs
Kirk said on December 8, 2016 at 11:23 am
Suzanne@21: Thanks. I was blanking on the right word.
As for Trump’s cabinet, remember when James Watt proved to be too nutty even for Reagan’s cabinet? He’d be just one of the gang now.
Deborah said on December 8, 2016 at 11:29 am
Kirk, it could be simply radiation. When my niece was 16 she had half of her thyroid nuked for some medical reason that I can’t remember and that’s why she has to take medication for it for the rest of her life.
This is the daughter of my right wing sister by the way, who wants them to repeal Obamacare. My niece’s husband is a cancer survivor so neither of them can get insurance because of pre-existing conditions if they take that away. My sister just wants it repealed, period, no replacement. I can’t believe that she would wish that for her own children. And another thing, when my sister started telling me she was worried that her daughter was schizophrenic, I was the one who did the research and found out her daughter had stopped taking her meds for years and that it could have killed her if she continued that. And I was the one who poured through medical info to find out that it could cause paranoia etc. She wasn’t taking the pills because she couldn’t afford them or the Dr visits to get prescriptions. She lived 50 miles from her mother and father and saw them regularly and they didn’t know this? This burns me to a crisp.
Julie Robinson said on December 8, 2016 at 11:50 am
Deborah, that sounds exactly like my aunt and uncle in Iowa, who practically ignore their daughter. She lost her job, retrained, then lost that job, and for a while was eating at soup kitchens and only once a day. I guess it’s because she didn’t marry the guy at the LC-MS college they wanted her to. Their Christian compassion doesn’t extend to her, or anyone who has gone through hard times. You’d think they’d be enthusiastic about getting health care coverage through the ACA. It defies explanation.
Jakash said on December 8, 2016 at 11:59 am
Puppies, you say? Well, I suppose this is a dog, and it’s football rather than baseball, but… The comments about the “play” are swell, too.
Suzanne said on December 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm
But Julie, the problem is that people believe that “God has a plan(TM)” for their lives and if your life sucks, like your relatives’ daughter, it can’t be that “God’s plan(TM)” for her is that her life plummets in an ever downward spiral because what does that say about God? And if God could do that to her, he just might do the same to me! Unacceptable.
So if her life sucks, it has to be because she is not following “God’s plan(TM)”! In which case, your choice is to let her hit rock bottom which might bring her back to church where she can learn to follow “God’s plan(TM)”. They are ignoring her out of love, don’t you see?
Deborah said on December 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Julie, my niece had a hard time too. She quit her job because she was sexually harassed at work. When she complained to HR about the guy doing it they rightfully fired him. But he was a much beloved employee and she started being snubbed by the other employees making it very uncomfortable for her, they blamed her not him, everyone just winked and looked the other way when he rubbed himself up against women and said inappropriate things to them. Because this was happening at the same time as her paranoia it escalated and confused things for her and her own parents and sisters didn’t believe her story. I reached out to her and we took her to New Mexico with us for two weeks and that’s how I found out she wasn’t taking her meds etc. This all happened more than 10 years ago. My niece is happily married and has a baby now, her husband is a farmer. They voted for Trump though which was disappointing for me and her mom, my right wing sister was very anti-Trump.
Jolene said on December 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm
In non-Trump news, Mick Jagger’s 29-year-old girlfriend just gave birth to his eighth child. He is 73.
Not sure that’s important, but the idea that life keeps springing forth seems a bit uplifting, even if it’s in the form of an aging rock star’s child.
CW said on December 8, 2016 at 12:55 pm
I mentioned here a couple weeks ago that I played golf with a few guys two days before the election, just as pizzagate was emerging from the cesspool. One guy brought it up, rather excitedly, that “they finally got the Clintons,” and he laid out the particulars of the child sex trafficking ring. He believed the story wholeheartedly.
When I challenged these guys for an iota of real evidence — a purported victim, or the parents of one, or reports of a police investigation — none could come up with anything. (Which, of course, is not surprising, since it’s obvious BS.) But one said that, undoubtedly, lots of people had been paid off to cover up the details.
So, in his mind, the absence of evidence was further proof of the conspiracy. You can’t persuade someone who is that willfully obtuse about facts. As a journalist, that’s damn depressing.
Kim said on December 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Remember when journalists and reporters that didn’t fact check down to the short hairs would have their careers tank? Wasn’t that long ago.
Dexter said on December 8, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Perhaps the first time I realized what a powder keg the internet could be was right after I got my first home computer and I kept seeing this viral email going around about Captain Kangaroo and Lee Marvin and World War II. Then I discovered all sorts of bullshit like that, and was introduced to Snopes.
Then locally a woman was going around wherever she could get in the door, petitioning for a ban or internet and even complete computer access to any man convicted of any felony or misdemeanor of any sort, because pornography was available on the web and pornography was the downfall of civilization, and by gawd she wasn’t going to sit idly by and let porn overtake the world.
I discovered her rantings in various letters to editors of local papers. For her old age’s sake, In hope she has passed on to her reward, because now the youing folk tell me porn is everywhere, and it’s free. Not only that, but there’s something called “The Dark Web”, which is not dot com, but something else, and I heard the real raunchy stuff is available there, snuff films, rapes…a perfect place for the real perverts, I’d say. So, I guess one can choose any path one wants on the web. All I do is email and Facebook and blog, and manage my finances, what little there is there. I Google a helluva lot, too, but I stay straight and narrow, and never look up anything I’d be embarrassed to “be caught with” on my screens.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 3:58 pm
The young folks (our 12 & our 18 year old) and I were discussing the news bulletins of December 7, 1941, and I was reminding them that nobody had cell phones, let alone internet smart-phones, nor even television; all folks had was radio reports – and maybe they’d see an AP wire photo or two in the newspapers in a day or two, or maybe the newsreel footage at a movie in the next year.
‘Course, we STILL had “truthers” who wanted to believe that FDR set us up for the whole thing – so general idiocy is no new thing
Dave said on December 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm
John Glenn has passed away.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm
The Clean Marine.
Might be time to watch The Right Stuff, again…
Dorothy said on December 8, 2016 at 4:41 pm
Michael G I have to tell you how happy I am to hear about how good you are feeling and doing lately! It’s very uplifting to know, and has boosted me up a little in the last 24 hours or so. We had our goodbyes with Augie today and I’ve tried returning to the sewing room to work on a mini quilt swap that I have to have done within two months. That sounds like a lot of time but considering how little time I seem to have to spend in the sewing room, it ain’t much. Anyway, the sadness lifts a little when I think of good news about other people, even if I don’t know you personally. My friends have been texting me today and saying such sweet things – but I have a headache from all the tearing-up I’ve been doing. Hopefully it will pass in a day or so. And thanks to you all who commented yesterday towards the end of the post. It means a good deal to me.
John Glenn had a grandchild who graduated from Kenyon (maybe more than one) and I got to see him in the audience at commencement that year. That was sure a thrill to see him in person! I hope Augie was greeting him with a wagging tail since he seemed to get up there around the same time as Senator Glenn.
brian stouder said on December 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm
Dorothy – now you have me misty-eyed!
But in a good way!
Here’s hoping that your quilting proceeds without a snag, and that Augie* puts a smile on your face, as you go
*surely you referred to him as ‘Augie doggie’ at least sometimes, eh?
Jolene said on December 8, 2016 at 5:10 pm
Not exactly cheery, but this article on the trial of Dylan Roof, the shooter in the killings in the church in Charleston is very well done.
Dave said on December 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm
Dexter, isn’t it the truth. I’ve seen that Bob Keeshan/Captain Kangaroo and Lee Marvin story lots of times. Sometimes, it’s Mr. Rogers instead, and scarring, or maybe it’s tattoos from his service is the reason he always wears long sleeves. You would think that everyone would know they’re fake stories but no, they make the circuit even now, showing up sometimes. Who makes up this stuff?
I believe a couple of my old co-workers believe ever lie that comes along and can’t wait to repost it, I’ve not unfriended them but I sure cut back on looking at any of their posts. I don’t want to hide my head in the sand but sometimes, it seems like it’s the best solution.
For silly letters to the editor, our hostess’ old employers sure publishes some doozies.
Somehow, a 73 year old man, I don’t care who he is, becoming a father for the 8th time, goes against my grain.
Sherri said on December 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm
I’ve been on the Internet long enough to remember when Craig Shergold wanting Christmas cards was a thing and they were called urban legends not fake news.
Suzanne said on December 8, 2016 at 6:04 pm
Dexter, the Mr Rogers Vietnam vet story is always showing up on Facebook. The Winston Churchill/Alexander Fleming story just reappeared the other day. Good old Snopes! Although, I have referenced Snopes only to have people tell me it’s got a liberal bias and therefore, not trustworthy.
Sherri said on December 8, 2016 at 6:36 pm
Reality has a liberal bias. Just check out what’s happening to the arctic ice right now. That must be liberal bias.
basset said on December 8, 2016 at 6:38 pm
Greg Lake has died.
Dorothy said on December 8, 2016 at 7:01 pm
Brian we certainly did call him Augie doggie. And when he’d get wet walking in the rain, he was soggy Augie doggie!
My hubby just shouted out that news, basset. He was a HUGE ELP fan.
Sherri said on December 8, 2016 at 7:18 pm
Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities, immigrants, but she didn’t really for everyday Americans.
Sorry, folks, this elite liberal coastal dweller is never going to cater to that mindset.
Sherri said on December 8, 2016 at 7:37 pm
Is Trump just a big Ponzi scheme? http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/maybe-the-answer-is-that-he-can-t-divest
Joe K said on December 8, 2016 at 8:28 pm
Probably wasn’t the best stick and rudder guy of the original 7, that was probably Shepard, and wasn’t the best engineer, that was definitely Gus Grissom, but for being the right guy to fly that mission and to be able to promote the space program, speak to the people, and discuss the important stuff to politician, there couldn’t have been a better pick than John Glenn, flew 90 plus missions in ww-2 another 90 in Korea with a lot of them down low, set as coast to coast speed record and even won on name that tune, then flew on the shuttle at 77.
Rip- Clean Marine.
alex said on December 8, 2016 at 9:20 pm
Reality has a liberal bias. Just check out what’s happening to the arctic ice right now. That must be liberal bias.
Lotta white flight up in them parts I hear.
David C. said on December 8, 2016 at 9:20 pm
It’s a shame Glenn didn’t get a Gemini flight. According to Deke Slayton’s book, NASA preferred a live symbol to a dead martyr. Glenn said he didn’t want to be the world’s oldest used astronaut so he resigned. I guess US Senator is a pretty good second act. He got a lot of shit for it, but I though it was nice he got a flight on Discovery.
Sherri said on December 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm
Might as well cancel SNL. How can they compete?