Monday, November 14, 2016

Exhibit A

This is Exhibit A.

What you see above is a comment on a post from here . It is in reference to a RealTrueNews article that claimed, with zero credibility, that Mike Pence and Paul Ryan had plotted a coup against Trump that was aborted when Trump "won" the second debate. This scenario was backed up by a chain of emails sent on the encrypted free-to-use ProtonMail system and featured a SquareSpace website that was a fake "Pence-Ryan 2016 roll-out.

The website is here, and the password, as the poster (skeptic) notes, is ChaseIsOnTheCase.

What Is This?

This is a joke. is a parody / fake news site that promotes incredibly far-fetched conspiracies and then backs them up with absurd documents. In this case, the email chain (which ends with a maybe-death-threat against the hapless web-designer, Chase) and includes Paul Ryan (who uses the name SpkrRyan and signs his anonymous, encrypted emails with his official Speaker of the House footer image), Mike Pence, and their "chiefs of staff" (David Hoppe and Jim Atterhold).

All of these conspirators use their first-initial, last name, on the encrypted channel they are using to do their dirty-work.

The site itself gets even sillier. Among other things:

  1. The Pence-Ryan image features a half-American, half-Confederate flag background.
  2. The slogan is Make America Greater.
  3. Their 2nd Amendment Page has them selling Pence-Ryan branded belt-fed AR-15's. They will allow rockets and grenades to be purchased by civilians with a special license.
  4. Their Supreme Court page is the Scalia court, but with pictures of Scalia's face over every justice's body. For Clarence Thomas, the face is darkened.
  5.  On the events page, Ben Carson is leading an 'Imprecatory Prayer Breakfast' for Obama and Clinton (praying for them to die).
  6. Chase, his catch-phrase ("No Job Is Too Big"), his password (ChaseIsOnTheCase), and his company ("patroldesign") are from the children's show Paw Patrol. Chase is a German Shepard.
You Can See The Pence-Ryan Logo On the Gun's Box Magazine

The poster, skeptic, is looking for someone--anyone--to help falsify this.

Is Skeptic A Lone Idiot?

He's not. Firstly, he has done his research. He has investigated the names (and figured out who they all are). He has looked into the hosting (some random guy really does own PenceRyan2016 for some reason). He has gone and at least looked at the web-site.

The place it is from, RealTrueNews, is a site where, literally, nothing is true. It posts nothing but absurd conspiracy theories. The writers go by names like Max Insider and Lex Icon. Were he to google RealTrueNews, he would find a DailyBeast story showing it as a hoax site. Why doesn't his investigation count as sufficient evidence to disprove it on the face of it?

But secondly, he's not lone. The Omnivore has reviewed documents (and this is no lie) that show that multiple sources have fallen for it. This includes places like GodLike Productions where one reader actually pointed out the "Paw Patrol" connection (one of the women reading the site had young kids and recognized the references).

Despite that, the consensus was still not clear: was it real or not?

What Does This Mean?

This is Exhibit A. There are more (to come?) and while they are all slightly different, they are all really the same: people--and to a greater extent Republicans--cannot easily tell actual news stories from utterly false ones. This is true even when the story in question is beyond the bounds of plausible reality.

How does The Omnivore know this? Well, for one thing, as noted, The Omnivore has stats. Specifically the web-logs from RealTrueNews which provide links to the various discussion sites. There, The Omnivore can see deep, ridiculous conspiracy discussed as fact. The Omnivore has seen all of this.

The second piece of supporting data is this study by Buzzfeed showing that (a) conservative news sources publish more fake data than liberal ones and (b) the faker the news, the more it was shared. This is stuff like the Pope endorsing Trump (did not happen) or that Obama told the UN that he is setting up America for a one-world government.

What this means is that despite a close look and an analytical mind, he was, like many of his fellows, pulled into a vortex of conspiracy theory from which he could not escape.

Why Did This Happen?

It happened when conservatives, becoming hyper-attuned to bias in journalism, decided that bias meant lying. Thus, any journalism which showed left-wing bias (i.e. almost all of it) was not "to be treated with suspicion" but outright ignored as a pack of lies.

People could point to a variety of bad or even false stories in the mainstream media as proof that they were lying. While some of these were actual falsehoods (ABC forged a crime-scene photo--but did not fabricate the crime or evidence about it, or that CNN falsely reported that the Secret Service had spoken with Trump about his 2nd Amendment People comment. In this case, it is one nameless official vs. another and the question of conversations vs. "official" conversations).

All of this ignores that the question of whether someone talked to Trump or not pales next to the question of whether or not Obama is plotting a coup (Limbaugh), FEMA is planning to herd people into concentration camps (the Internet), or politicians regularly assassinate their rivals for no good reasons (RealTrueNews).

The void that was filled when the Mainstream Media was erased was filled with conspiracy theory and, as it became more and more a foundation for thought, the edifice built on it became more and more dysfunctional. Whether or not Trump could be a good president, whether or not Trump is ushering in a new tide of racists, whether or not the left is actually more dangerous or being manipulated by George Soros, it is clear to The Omnivore that a foundation of thought built on conspiracy theory is dysfunctional regardless of what else is true. That "Skeptic" (and other posters on that thread--and many others) cannot instantly see through this is the first piece of evidence that we have damaged America in a fundamental fashion.

1 comment:

  1. I know someone who writes content for RTN. More a meme-hacker than a nut, IMO.

    -- Ω