The shooting this week is tragic, bottom line. Two nights ago my friend Kai Yu posted a biting comment about school children laying down their lives for the right to bear arms. It was cutting and sharp and I wanted to share the remark. Crediting Kai, I typed the sentiment myself choosing a gaudy, cheerful hearts-and-sparkles Valentine background for the dark post. By lunch the next day, the comment had been shared 2000 times, by the time we started our evening screening 6000, by the end of the film 9000. At home last night I read through the comments, now reaching into the thousands, ranging from support to anger to crazy. Yesterday morning, long before the post went viral, I had read around social media that there were 18 shootings already this year, then I found this What’s incredible about this number is that even as the Washington Examiner, USAToday, and Politifact had debunked this information early on 2/15, the 18-shootings figure has been re-tweeted nearly half a million times and has spread through a graphic you’ve already seen pop up in your own feed. My post’s comments bear that dark graphic again and again. Before our screening yesterday, as I read some of the more heinous responses to my post, the director said, “you should respond with this.” texting me the same incorrect graphic. The real stats are:
- Nine involved no deaths and no gunshot injuries.
- Two were suicides, with no other injuries (including the one at the closed school).
- Three were unintentional (although one caused injuries)
According to the article, the mis-information is being spread by Everytown USA, the nice people who text you from scammy-looking phone numbers during dinner. I believe in their cause, and I believe in sensible gun-ownership, but hyperbole and false information does more to hurt your argument than help it.
Mostly False: 18 School shootings so far this Year
Over Christmas break, my favorite gift to family was an Echo Dot. I reasoned that it’s affordable but fun, just techy enough for relatives but easy to use and with lots of cool add-ons like lighting controls and other junk. I know that mostly it will be used to get the weather but everyone seems happy so it’s a hit. By mid-afternoon holiday skype sessions and phone calls begin and several friends and family make appearances. One family friend pointed out and interesting detail about my Aunt and Uncle’s new smart device: he had personally asked it if it believed in Jesus. Alexa reportedly responded that Jesus was a fictional character. Further questioning revealed that Alexa also believed that Mohammed was a great man. Of course I smelled bullshit and to my great excitement, my Aunt declared that we should look it up on Snopes before believing it. Some simple investigation revealed the claim to be false, having been made in a falsified video internet-evangelist, Steve Crowder, who I would generously describe as “fringy.”
What sticks out to me the most in this case is not the spreading of the wacky rumor but the acquisition of the false information into the teller’s own experience. The statement over Skype was “I asked Alexa…” not “I heard that someone asked…”
The experience became part of his own memory, even though it couldn’t have (Alexa was never programmed to say this.) Was he simplifying the information for the sake of brevity or, a scarier thought, was the information so true, so possible that he believed himself to have heard it from the Echo’s mouth?
Check out one of the articles, spread primarily on faith-based sites.
By now you’ve heard Trump’s confounding comments Friday regarding Sweden. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
The next day amid lots of confusion (Sweden reportedly A-OK) Trump took to Twitter to say the comment was in reference to a Fox news piece that had aired. Turns out this brilliant comment started with filmmaker Ami Horowitz appearing with Tucker Carlson a day before, you can watch the interview here.
You can see how conveniently plucked stock footage of fires, attacks, and unrest featured in the classic Fox we-didn’t-necessarily-say-it-was-related use of imagery could make a person with some pre-set beliefs about immigration make some assumptions. Where did he get “last night”? Who the fuck knows.
So who the heck is Ami Horowitz? A quick scan of his name turns up a series of articles across the alt-right media reporting a “vicious attack” on him and his team by five refugees in a heavily immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm (although the description seems a lot less harrowing and a lot more about a twerpy filmmaker who wouldn’t stop recording when asked.) Looking into his filmography we find “Stockholm Syndrome” a film about just how rapey Sweden has become with its new refugee population. Digging deeper you find the citation for these booming rape stats as coming from – you guessed it- a conservative think tank called Gatestone. Dive further into these numbers on which Horowitz’s film is based, you find the key asterisk: the nationality of the accused rapists are not reported, yes there’s an increase in reported sexual assault but assuming it related to refugee resettlement is flimsy, in addition to this in Sweden naturalized children of immigrants are still considered immigrants. Conclusion: This stat is bullshit and so is this bullshit film.
Horowitz, a USC alum, is as interested truthful reporting as he is in conducting quality, cinematic interviews. So what does Horowitz really believe? Are his fears grounded in reality? No, but that won’t stop him from screaming about them for months to come. Expect to hear more from this one on the right folks.
THE OFFENDER: Infowars writer Adan Salazar
THE NEWS: CNN cuts off Bernie Sanders after calling them ‘Fake News’
THE TRUTH: Sanders makes obvious joke, technical problems ensue
THE RUB: Unverified information, CNN is the Devil
One of the things I’m hoping to illustrate here is that mock-journalism like Breitbart, Prison Planet, and The Daily show (yes, we’re gonna analyze both sides, no teams here) do much more implying than they do informing. “A” happened, therefore “C.” An article like the one here lets you create “B” from your existing political ideas. Sanders is clearly making a joke, then his IFB fails. CNN is aware that they’ve been called “Fake news,” this is not new information for them. If you don’t think critically, you’ve gone ahead made some assumptions, and what happens when we assume? This “News” by very definition isn’t news, because the so-called journalists failed to cite references or verify facts. The story below floats across conservative news sites in a wave- and only conservative news sites- to its final destination: the president’s Twitter. Sunday morning 18 hours after InfoWar’s posting, the president regurgitates it like fact. Click to watch.
What’s more frightening is the next day, this happens:
If that doesn’t scare you, it should. Scan Infowars for a bit and imagine the leader of the free world believes the paranoid tidbits are truth.
We are a new site for news junkies. We start the day with NPR and we end the day with BBC. Slate, Huff Post, whatever pops up on our news app, Fox News, several podcasts, scan Infowars, then the Daily Show for laughs. We love information and we love facts. We love political strategy and we love watching it play out in front of us. What we don’t love is manipulation, and you are manipulated everyday by click-bait headlines, by assumptions, by implications, by bad journalism. The problem is: bad journalism isn’t just feeding our parents mis-information via Fox News anymore, it’s swaying elections. The historical purveyors of Fake News have burrowed into our daily information diet. What’s worse is they’ve embraced the phrase “Fake News” and hurled it at back at our trusted news sources. The times have changed, we live in a post-integrity world. On this site we’ll be sharing what we think are the day’s worst offenders – Left and Right. We need to course correct and its going to start with re-learning what facts and critical thinking are. Let’s forget being anti-Trump or anti-Left, let’s just be pro-fact. OK here we go.