Conservatives have heretofore evaded the force of the “fake news” label while pinning it back on their liberal accusers with fair success. At this point, prominent libs have been caught in so many transparent lies and frauds that their whole “fake news” crusade could do nothing but backfire on them. There are only so many Benghazis and Brian Williamses a reputation can endure. You end up having to trust the memory-hole of the American public—a force never to be underestimated. But what happens when you are forced to realize your favorite conservative journalists are exaggerators and liars, too? Do we have the courage to call them out with the same consistency?
We’ve heard a lot of bandying back and forth recently about “fake news.” The left volleyed the label at right-leaning news outlets, and the right spiked it right back down their throats, showing a nearly unending supply of stories doctored by the left for the left. At this point, it seems both sides are entrenched, and each will always ignore its own lies while magnifying those of the other. It would take a clear-cut case of a clear lie to overcome the partisan-spirit’s benefit-of-the-doubt for itself, and given the power of pure prejudice, even a whopping, overt case may not be enough.
But we do have one (in fact, we have many). This morning, a news story popped up in my feed stating “Obama Awards Himself Distinguished Public Service Medal.” The story was run by Breitbart, one of the sites most trusted by alt-right and hard-right conservatives.
To say this story is a lie is not to support Obama in any way, nor to deny his tremendous ego or devious lies, self-serving ambition, etc., etc.; but, this story is a bald-faced lie. The medal was not awarded to Obama by himself. According to the government website about this particular medal, the authority who approves this award is the Secretary of Defense, not the President.
But, you say, that’s a minor technicality! Obama appointed the SoD, so he obviously pressured or influenced this decision, right? At this point, you have left the realm of proven fact and waded into partisan conjecture—the very sin for which you decry the fake news of the left. The only difference is, this particular fake news sates your appetite for anti-Obama information. It reinforces your already-stoked hatred of all things Obama.
In short, it’s red meat. You believed it, commented on it, shared it, and promoted it because you took the bait. You didn’t employ even one second of critical thought; you just pounced on the meat.
And it will backfire on you, conservative. Even if you are to maintain, without evidence, the belief that Obama somehow influenced the decision to award him this medal, you would then have to answer why George W. Bush’s SoD did the exactly the same thing for him, and at around exactly the same time—the end of his second term. Likewise, Bill Clinton’s SoD did the same thing at the same time.
Snopes, although not always trustworthy, is right here with just basic facts and sources.
Obviously, this is nothing more than a meaningless, token ritual award in recent times. It’s so mundane and bipartisan it’s not even newsworthy.
So why spin a complete lie to create a red meat treat? I can only surmise it’s either because they know they can get away with it with their alt-right base (it currently has over 10k comments), or because it drives website traffic and generates revenue; or, perhaps, both.
It’s saddening to me that conservatives lower themselves to the level of lying leftists. Gary DeMar wrote a while back on his experience with leftists spinning his interviews into red meat lies. He rightly says that one can always expect this. But it is within conservatism where most of the Bible-believing Christians are; it is here where judgment begins, the house of God. We can cry all day about the lies of the left, but if we do not police the lies among out own ranks by the same standard, we are as bad as the left, if not worse because we profess Christ.
One article lists several prominent media personalities who have been caught lying in the recent past. You’ll be right to assume you’ll find the likes of Brian Williams in the list, as well as certain reporters who lied about Benghazi. Conservatives are well familiar with all the lies of the left—they are broadcast ad nauseam across conservative and alt-right sites. But would you believe the there are several Fox News personalities in the list, too—caught in not just mistakes but objective, proven lies.
You are probably well familiar with Hillary’s lie about landing in a war zone with bullets flying. Brian Williams, too. But did you know Bill O’Reilly made almost identical claims about being in the Falkland Islands during the 1982 war, bullets and all? The statements were objective, and proven false. Yet, did O’Reilly apologize? Was he sanctioned? Were conservatives outraged?
O’Reilly not only never apologized (as far as I can see), he doubled down and called his accusers liars instead, and defended himself (often changing the subject and nature of his claims) in subsequent interviews.
Likewise, Sean Hannity was caught fraudulently editing a view feed to make a conservative rally appear far larger than it really was. When caught and outed by Jon Stewart, Hannity did not apologize, but did say the channel made an “inadvertent mistake.” Hardly.
What conservatives don’t realize is that when they give liars a pass, they also justify the same type of behavior by the left. You make the toleration of lies the norm, and you will without a doubt get more lies all around. Using media to deceive and advance political agendas will become the order of the day, as it pretty much is now. You may not like it when the left does it; you may scream and cry; but when your guys do it too and you don’t scream and cry, you don’t demand resignations and boycott their shows and books, you don’t cover them with shame in social media, they you have no moral leg the stand on.
The real fearful fact is that the left is far better and more well-trained at unconscionable lies then we are. As long as lies are the status quo, they will eventually win. So, honestly, we have nothing to lose by not, you know, doing what we profess we do: following the Ten Commandments. That means also sanctioning those purported pundits among us who overtly defy them. It means recognizing all liars across the board and kicking them out of positions of leadership and influence. Frankly, until Christians and conservatives hold such people accountable, they’re a laughingstock of hypocrisy and sitting ducks for the left.
(Photo from SEIU on Flickr, CCA License 2.0)