Our mainstream media are mourning what's become known as "Pizzagate," in which deluded citizen Edgar Welch fired shots in Comet Ping Pong Pizza because he'd read that it was the center of a child pedophile ring run by Clinton adviser John Podesta. He nobly set out to rescue the imagined sex-slaves, but as he told the New York Times afterward, “The intel on this wasn’t 100 percent. I regret how I handled the situation.”
Although pointing out that he did not vote for Donald Trump and misdescribing his firearm, the Times casts Mr. Welch as a Republican; you're supposed to infer that "false news" is strictly an invention of conservatives.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Political lies about child abuse go back a long way, and many were heavily promoted by Democrats seeking political advantage.
We're distressed, but not at all surprised, to see that the MSM wasn't worried at all about fake news that promoted Democrat causes such as bogus child abuse charges or misquoting Mr. Trump or even the Pope. "Fake news" became something to deplore only when Hillary claimed that fake news had led to her being defeated by Mr. Trump in our recent election. The Pizzagate "fake news" complaints center on charges of child abuse by a prominent Democrat, but let's look at other bogus abuse charges.
Hillary and her campaign adviser weren't the first to be falsely accused of abusing children in a nonexistent underground room. That dubious distinction belongs to Little Rascals Day Care in rural North Carolina.
A cook and the couple who ran the daycare were accused of ritual child abuse in horrifying ways related to Satanic rituals. The New York Times compared the proceedings to the Salem Witch Trials; the lurid testimony made national headlines, and the reputed ringleader received twelve consecutive life sentences - as would properly befit someone who sacrificed babies to Satan and threw children into a school of sharks.
The fact that, somehow, no children were either missing or shark-bit should have raised a red flag from the beginning. All convictions were eventually overturned and the accused set free. The media reported that charges had been dropped, but only after the defendant's lives had been ruined and several had pled "no contest."
The case is now considered a hallmark of the hazards of relying on supposed "suppressed memories," but at the time the media trumpeted the bogus psychological theories on which the accusations were based and helped railroad the innocent.
The Wall Street Journal reminds us of another phony child abuse case:
In 1984, Cuban immigrant Frank Fuster and his undocumented wife Ileana were accused of molesting eight children (with 20 children making claims in all) in the Miami babysitting service they ran. Janet Reno prosecuted the case, which went to trial despite having the same hallmarks as each of the other cases: a lack of physical evidence, and a ballooning number of children making unsubstantiated and embellished claims of dark satanic rites after coercive interview sessions.
Janet Reno, who died last month according to her apocryphal declaration that Donald Trump would never become President during her lifetime, seems to have believed her ridiculous accusations; indeed she learned that false accusations of child abuse are a highly effective ploy to dispose of enemies. In 1993 she became Bill Clinton's attorney general and didn't take long to put this knowledge to effective use.
She claimed "child abuse" as justification for ordering the FBI to assault the Branch Davidians in their compound in Waco, Texas, which incinerated 76 people including two dozen children. Were those children abused by David Koresh? We'll never know, but surely being suffocated and burned alive because the Federal government pumped your home full of highly inflammable teargas ought to count as pretty serious abuse.
The feds' abuse of the Davidians was real news, not at all fake, but Ms. Reno's waving the "child abuse" excuse deflected criticism which should have been directed at her and at President Clinton for condoning murder or mass-manslaughter by gross negligence.
Janet Reno wasn't the only Democrat to ride a false abuse prosecution to higher office. In what became known as the Fells Acres case, the prosecution presented testimony of abuse that should have left physical evidence:
Gerald [the son of the owner], it was alleged, had plunged a wide-blade butcher knife into the rectum of a 4-year-old boy, which he then had trouble removing. When a teacher in the school saw him in action with the knife, she asked him what he was doing, and then told him not to do it again, a child said. On this testimony, Gerald was convicted of a rape which had, miraculously, left no mark or other injury.
As with the other ridiculous prosecutions, the defendants were sentenced to long prison terms. The Wall Street Journal documented the political payoff:
Scott Harshbarger, the district attorney whose office prosecuted the Amiraults--and who ran for re-election advertising that fact--is now attorney general of Massachusetts.
By the time the case started to unravel in 1999, Martha Coakley had become the new Middlesex County district attorney. The publicity she won through keeping Gerald in jail wasn't enough for her to defeat Scott Brown for the US Senate, but she was elected attorney general of Massachusetts and made a credible run for the governor's office.
The Journal explained what had happened to lead to these gross miscarriages of justice:
That the wave of spectacular child-abuse trials emerged in the '80s was no accident. The passage in 1979 of the Mondale Act ensured a huge increase in funds for child protection agencies and abuse investigators. With the outpouring of government money came a huge increase in agencies and staffs, which in turn begot investigations and accusations of child sex abuse on a grand scale. An industry had been born. [emphasis added]
We've pointed out that, having spawned what's become known as the "child abuse industry," the Mondale Child Protection Act has led to government employees abusing more children than parents ever imagined. John Podesta is fortunate that he's a Democrat and that our national child abuse hysteria has died down somewhat, or he'd be on trial for his life today.
The evidence that he's involved in abusing children under a pizza parlor is at least as strong as the evidence in these past abuse cases which ambitious prosecutors rode to fame and higher office. The absence of any tunnels or sex slaves beneath Comet Ping Pong Pizza would be no more of a legal obstacle than the lack of shark bites or the incredible butcher-knife-proof rectum hindered prosecutors in the past.
All the lurid headlines about child abuse in day care centers turned out to be false even though they appeared in what were once thought to be respectable publications, quoting duly-elected court officials who had sworn oaths to adhere to professional standards of truth and justice.
In other news, we've repeatedly pointed out that the National Enquirer, always contemptuously dismissed by the mainstream media as a source of 100% fake news, was the first to break the true story of John Edwards, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, having a love child with a campaign worker while his wife was dying of cancer. In this case, "fake news" turned out to be entirely too real.
Does this mean that all fake news is real? Of course not: we're fairly confident that Hillary Clinton, for all her sins, is not in fact an alien lizard in a clever plastic disguise. The fact that so many abuse accusations turned out to be unfounded doesn't mean that all accusations of child abuse are false either: Ex-Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, for example, seems to be guilty of sexting underage girls. As with all other co-conspirators in Clinton, Inc., a court is the proper place to debate his guilt or innocence, so we'll wait until then before passing final judgment on him.
The epidemic of false news also doesn't necessarily mean that the falsely accused aren't guilty of something else. The Clinton gang is unlikely to be imprisoning young girls as sex slaves beneath a DC pizza parlor. On the other hand, Bill Clinton's friendship with "billionaire pedophile" Jeffrey Epstein is well documented, and he went to Mr. Epstein's private "Sex Slave Island" on Mr. Epstein's private jet at least 26 times. No matter what happened on the island, though, Mr. Clinton could honestly swear that he's never broken American age-of-consent laws because Mr. Epstein's island is prudently located outside U.S. territory.
Maybe Pizzagate is an intentional false story which was designed to distract America from a sordid truth?
It's true that the idea of Bill Clinton as a pedophile is pretty far-fetched: he has a decades-long track record of availing himself of more mature women in large numbers, so a shell-shocked prepubescent twelve-year-old might hold no appeal.
But our media are famous for ignoring real news that doesn't fit their bias. The mainstream media ignored the story when President Clinton was accused of having sexually abused his intern Monica Lewinsky. An unknown scrivener was left to reveal the story to the world on a slapdash web page. When his story was shown to be true, his hour's worth of coding grew into the Drudge Report and earned its founder a serious fortune.
Similarly, the MSM ignored Mr. Obama's lies such as "You can keep your doctor." Only after the lie became so painfully obvious that the media stood convicted as co-conspirators did they grudgingly report what everybody else already knew: that infamous phrase was indeed the "Lie of the Year" if not the decade.
The MSM can't even tell the truth when it's talking about fake news! Here's another faker in the MSM falsely reporting that Pope Francis said that spreading fake news is a sin.
After publishing the official English translation of the Pope's remarks as distributed by the Vatican press office, Fox News summarized:
In short, Pope Francis' message is: Don't lie. Don't slander. Don't bear false witness... The press pushed a bogus story claiming Francis had condemned bogus stories.
We mourn the fact that our current media climate is such that we need the Pope to remind us of this age-old truth about telling the truth, and we stand aghast that our media is incapable of reporting said truth without burying it in yet another self-serving and contradictory lie. We leave it to our readers to examine the Pope's words and decide for yourselves whether Fox or the rest of the MSM did the better job of reporting. Lest you regard this as a trivial difference, please note that the Pope condemned the spread of partial truths as the most serious damage that any media can inflict.
Given the vital importance of journalism to democracy, it's tempting to assume good faith on the part of a fallible but well-meaning MSM. Alas, we remember the New York Times reporter who made up prize-winning news for years before being caught by another journalist whom he had plagiarized and being fired. This was well over a decade ago and there's been no sign of improvement.
On a more recent note, a strongly anti-Trump writer documented many deliberate lies the MSM told about Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign. His concern is that the flood of lies will undermine his colleague's credibility to the point that nobody will pay attention when they criticize Mr. Trump. Given that Mr. Trump is bypassing the media via Twitter and You Tube, his warning seems to have come a bit late.
Pope Francis is correct in saying, "Don't lie. Don't slander. Don't bear false witness" because lies can kill. The most recent example of the entire MSM publishing a deadly falsehood is the notorious "Hands up, don't shoot" meme.
This lie arose when Mr. Michael Brown robbed a convenience store and later tried to steal a gun from a police officer who had realized that he matched the description of the robber. It was falsely but widely reported that he had had his hands in the air in surrender when he was shot.
With encouragement from President Obama and Attorney General Holder, "Hands up, don't shoot" became the rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement. Police officers were murdered by blacks who said that they had been enraged by hearing the lies about the shooting of Mr. Brown and others.
Unfortunately for the meme, modern forensic science conclusively proved that there was no truth in it - Mr. Brown was shot while charging the cop, who he'd already tried to wrestle the gun away from. If there's ever a situation where a cop has every legitimate reason to shoot a suspect, Mr. Brown was it.
The falsehood led to so much rioting, murder, and other damage to our society that even the Washington Post felt compelled to apologize for their part in spreading the lie:
Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.
That's cold comfort to the families of the slain peace officers, and we still we hear the utterly discredited refrain of "Hands up, don't shoot"!
There is a lot more fake news floating around than our MSM wants to admit. Some of it is due to carelessness or laziness, as when the New York Times failed to check their plagiarist's stores which seemed too good to be true and when newspapers swallowed stories about day care kids being abused with knives without suffering any injuries or entire classrooms being stripped naked without parents noticing their kids coming home with the wrong socks.
Then, there are some web sites which publish deliberate satire, some of which can be hard to distinguish from reality. Other web sites generate fake headlines as "click bait" to lure readers to their web sites where they charge advertisers for each view.
We started our analysis of fake news with lies about child abuse because "Pizzagate" involves what seem to be false charges about child abuse, at least with respect to the location where the abuse is said to have occurred.
The original flurry of child abuse fake news happened soon after the federal government offered vast sums of money to fight child abuse. There wasn't enough real abuse to burn up all the available money, so ambitious prosecutors, therapists, and social workers manufactured some. This is yet another example of government making a problem worse by throwing money at it.
The problem with Democratic programs to take care of people is that government is manifestly unable to care for anyone. Riding on the back of voter anger at injustices and incompetence far beyond these sad tales, Mr. Trump seems to have convinced a lot of voters that progressive ideas don't work. We hope he can Drain the Swamp that our federal government has become, but that's no solution to the problem of fake news in the private news media.
The false stories about child abuse were eagerly spread by supposedly responsible media, sometimes for years on end. In general, the reports of the cases being dropped received far fewer column-inches than the original charges, and many innocent lives were ruined. The unceasing blizzard of false stories about Mr. Trump accentuate our point that nobody can trust news from any source without careful checking.
The great virtue of the Internet is that it allows anyone to report on anything, and it turns out that over time, the truth does tend to make its way into the public consciousness at least somewhat. There was a time when the saying went "America offers freedom of the press to every man who owns one;" now, anyone with a public library card can use the Internet to post a free blog and become their own publisher. A million would-be Matt Drudges make sure that few real stories of corruption can stay hidden forever.
This ought to be a golden age of truth, since everyone has a megaphone if they have something worth saying. We're concerned, however, because Facebook, Google, and Twitter, who are slowly taking over the news-spreading functions formerly offered by the New York Times and the Washington Post, have stated that they plan to create automatic algorithms to block fake news from spreading.
The examples we've cited should make it clear that this is impossible. Obviously, any "trustworthiness" algorithm would favor the New York Times and the Washington Post over the Drudge Report or the National Enquirer; equally clearly, that would be dead wrong a significant percentage of the time.
Furthermore, social media have demonstrated that they can't be trusted to censor news. Google and Facebook favored liberalism in their news feeds. Twitter turned off Mr. Trump's account for a time during the campaign and Reddit's CEO edited users' posts he didn't like without admitting that he'd abused his administrative privileges to change what the original authors had written!
As First Amendment advocates point out that the cure for bad speech is more speech, not censorship, we argue that the cure for false news is more news, not censorship. Our plague of campus speech codes and "safe spaces" show the damaging effects of censorship on ordinary speech; we argue that automatic censorship by Google and Facebook will be even worse.
Let the falsehoods roll! Counter with the facts! And enjoy your slavery-free pizza.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.