Fact-Checking “Fake News”

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the Democrats’ whining about “fake news,” since it appears to be just another feeble excuse for losing. Still, I was interested to see that the Associated Press undertook to fact-check a fake news story yesterday. I assumed this must be a particularly important instance of the genre, for the AP to bother. The headline was, “AP FACT CHECK: Ex-agent didn’t write book outing Obama.”

A widely shared story that claimed a former Secret Service agent outed President Barack Obama as a gay man and a radical Muslim is false.

I should hope so, although circulating rumors that political opponents are gay has been common practice in Washington for quite a while. It didn’t start in 2016.

The fake story says an ex-agent named Paul Horner published the claims in a book titled “The Black House.” The article also features an interview that the former agent conducted with a supposed senior political analyst with NBC News named Tom Downey.

NBC News confirms that no one named Tom Downey has ever worked for it as a political analyst. Secret Service spokesman Joe Casey says records dating back to 1990 reveal no agent named Paul Horner. And the book cannot be found listed for sale by any retailer.

So it wasn’t a very well-disguised fraud. The story that the AP fact-checked is here. The site looks somewhat like an NBC News page, and its URL is a deceptive nbc.com.co. The first thing one notices is that the story appeared on October 2, nearly three months ago. Why is the Associated Press just now getting around to exposing a nearly three-month-old hoax?

Especially since anyone who read the story would recognize it as a fraud, or, as the site’s creator says, a satire:

In an interview with NBC News, [former agent Paul] Horner told Senior Political Analyst Tom Downey that he is one-hundred-percent positive that President Obama is not only gay, but a radical Muslim as well.

“Everyone on the inside knows that Obama is gay and a Muslim, it is common knowledge,” Horner said. “I saw many men coming and going from Obama’s room, at all hours. I would say a good portion of the men, over fifty-percent, were Muslim.”

More:

Downey: “Your book spends a whole chapter devoted to the various ‘tortures’ that Obama and the First Lady would subject you to. Can you explain?”

Horner: “Because I was white, Obama would force me to listen to Diana Ross at full volume, every day, at all hours of the night. It was horrible, I never got any sleep. This is one of the main reasons I finally had to quit.”

Downey: “Can you give us any insight on Obama’s feelings towards the American people?”

Horner: “He constantly made jokes about Americans, frequently referring to them as “mongoloids” and “idiots”. Christians were his favorite verbal punching bags. He has absolutely no respect for the Christian religion. I believe he actually hates Christians, and finds their ideology to be old fashioned and ignorant.”

Downey: “What are some of the things the public will find the most shocking?”

Horner: “Probably the sheer amount of men he welcomed into his bed quarters. I am in no way homophobic, but Obama’s insatiable lust for homosexual liaisons is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. We’re talking 10-15 partners in a single day.”

Downey: “That’s amazing, 10-15 in a single day? Wow.”

Horner: “Also, at least once a day, Obama would have us log on to Facebook and report a page about a Dolphin named Fappy who travels around the country speaking to elementary school children about the dangers and consequences of masturbation. It was all very, very strange stuff.”

Downey: “Is there anything else you can tell us?”

Horner: “Yeah (Horner smiles), buy the book.”

I suppose it is remotely possible that a gullible person could read this and not understand that it is a joke. But I sincerely doubt that it had a major impact on the election, especially since, long before the AP undertook its “fact-check,” author Paul Horner had become notorious as the biggest purveyor of “fake news” on the internet.

Horner was interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN earlier this month about his false “news” stories. He defended them as satire. Horner is an anti-Trump activist, as he told the Washington Post last month:

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-8-23-12-pm

One wonders why the AP would bother to fact-check an article by a self-described hoaxer–the most notorious one on the internet, we are told–who self-identifies as an anti-masturbation dolphin and says that President Obama has sex with 10-15 men per day. I don’t think the AP was prompted to belatedly investigate this story by a concern that it would be taken seriously. Rather, I suspect that liberal news organs like the AP, having made “fake news” into a major theme, now feel obligated to follow through by producing an example or two.

If this is the best they can do, my sense that “fake news” is just a feeble Democratic Party excuse is confirmed.

Responses

-->