Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

How Fake News is Made

January 15, 2019

First off, a statement of fact: Donald Trump is a lightning rod. People either really, really love him or really, really despise him. There just aren’t that many folks in the middle. Knowing this, companies, institutions and media organizations on BOTH sides of the political aisle exploit these passionate extremes to great profit.

Donald Trump says and does a lot of [insert adjective(s) here] things that get him a lot of attention, both positive and negative. He’s very good at this and really doesn’t need any help at it. This has not stopped the Hate Industry (or Trump supporters) from fabricating stories about the man so they could cash in on the outrage.

In early 2017, just weeks after his inauguration, a wave of bomb threats were made against Jewish community centers across the US. The Hate Industry and their media stooges swore that this was irrefutable evidence that white supremacists and anti-Semites “were emboldened” by Trump’s election, until it was discovered that the real culprits were a Black man attempting to frame his white ex-girlfriend and an Israeli teenage hacker. Whoosh! The Memory Hole opened and swallowed the story. Nothing to see here.

The Ku Klux Klan was “emboldened” to spray paint “Vote Trump” on the side of a Black church in Jackson, Mississippi, before burning it down, and neo-Nazi arsonists boldly painted “Heil Trump!” on the side of a church in Bloomington, Indiana, before setting it ablaze. Heinous hate crimes that could be traced irrefutably back to President Trump, except for the annoying facts that the first church fire was set by a Black parishioner and the second by its openly gay organist.

Do you recall the avalanche of corrections and retractions that filled the media in the following days? Us neither.

The excellent website, fakehatecrimes.org, has logged over a hundred hate crime hoaxes committed since Election Day, 2016, many of which were explicitly claimed to be Trump-related, until they weren’t.

And the beat goes on. Just last week many “legitimate” media sources breathlessly regurgitated a “report” by two University of Virginia academics who claimed that they had proof that teasing and bullying in middle schools across Virginia had “risen by 9%” in 2017, specifically in areas that had voted for Donald Trump. Did any of the media experts actually examine the report before reprinting the claims? Not so much.

And really, why would they? Even if the story turned out to be inaccurate it’s still solid gold click bait. And when these stories are disproved, they simply go away. No messy cleanup required.

Francis L. Huang and Dewey G. Cornell based their claims on a set of three surveys they have administered to roughly 155,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students across Virginia in 2013, 2015 and 2017, that asks the students their opinions about bullying and teasing in their schools. It’s a worthy effort and the data seems to be as good as any these kinds of instruments produce. It’s worth noting that the results are agnostic, with no sign whatsoever of the terms Obama, Trump, Republican or Democrat to be found.

The problem lies in the way in which Huang and Cornell interpreted the data in their subsequent 2018 report, “School Teasing and Bullying After the Presidential Election.” In that report, the pair claimed an increase in responses to the statement: “Students in this school are teased or put down because of their race or ethnicity,” in the 2017 survey over the previous one. So far, so good.

The duo then take it one step farther by claiming that they have discovered a correlation between the increase in responses and those schools residing in Republican districts. Here is where things start to break down.

Survey results were broken down by eight separate regions across the Commonwealth and numbered 1 through 8. While the percentages of students who answered yes to the “teased because of their race or ethnicity” prompt did increase significantly, the data shows that this is a trend that began during the Obama Administration and shows sizable increases between 2013 and 2015. Where is that “report”?

According to Huang and Cornell’s own data, teasing in the Shenandoah Valley jumped by 63% in President Obama’s second term. Statewide, teasing increased by 35% under POTUS 44. Where’s the outrage over that?

percentages1

In other news, outright bullying, a separate measure from mere teasing, rocketed under President Obama and actually dropped under President Trump, according to Cornell and Huang.

percentages2

Affirmative responses to the prompts “I have been bullied,” “I have been cyber bullied,” and “I have bullied others,” exploded statewide between 2013 and 2015, by 150%, 167% and an unbelievable 220% respectively!

Obviously, it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick data points to put any kind of slant you want into your “report.” Remember the adage about “lies, damned lies, and statistics”? And as we have stated numerous times on this blog, ANY TIME you see a percent symbol in the media, run, do not walk, to see the source documents. And after you’ve done that, follow the money. Who is going to profit from unsubstantiated claims and what consequences do they face if proven wrong?

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Anyone with an Internet connection can do it, providing they want to get at the truth.

Other inconsistencies not addressed in the Huang and Cornell piece include the facts that the three surveys are not identical (some questions are universal to all three, but not all), the 2017 survey includes sixth-graders for the first time, and that the 2017 survey was administered between February and April, when Donald Trump had been in office for less than 100 days, versus Barack Obama’s eight year administration.

If you’re going to blame Trump for teasing then you’re going to have to blame Obama as well.

Lastly, what conclusions did Huang and Cornell actually reach in their study? Despite the hundreds of headlines proclaiming “Trump Causes Teasing!,” the authors themselves concede:

“These findings are correlational and cannot establish a causal relationship but invite the need for further study.”

“The phrase “teasing and bullying” is used broadly in recognition that there are various forms of peer aggression and that student reports do not necessarily conform to an academic definition of bullying.”

“We did not have measures of the quality and intensity of peer aggression or its impact on victims.”

“It is obviously difficult to demonstrate a causal link between statements by a public figure and schoolyard bullying.”

Nobody, friend or foe, can deny that President Donald Trump says a lot of stupid, irrational and sometimes irresponsible things. There is more than enough controversy to go around without cooking up fake news like this malarkey.

Trust, but verify. It’s what used to be known as “journalism” in the old days.

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SPLC — Cashing in on MS-13

May 28, 2018

When you have “tracked” the Southern Poverty Law Center for as long as we have, you take it for granted that the company will find a way to make money off the latest tragedy or controversy du jour. The SPLC now has more than 300 full-time employees, many of them involved in marketing, public relations and fundraising and they are not about to let an opportunity to cash in pass them by.

Just over a week ago, President Donald Trump ruffled feathers by referring to members of the violent and deadly Salvadoran gang MS-13, which has infiltrated many American cities and even smaller towns, as “animals.”

Considering the gang’s lengthy record of brutal murders, decapitation, torture and rape, “animals” is one of the kinder terms that could be used to describe them.

Naturally, Mr. Trump’s comments were clumsy and poorly articulated, as usual. Naturally, the SPLC and other Hate Industry players jumped on a chance to claim that the president was referring to all immigrants as “animals.”

Virtue signalers across the country couldn’t get their wallets out fast enough. Despite all the “outrage” and toga rending, Donald Trump has been a gold mine for these “advocacy groups.” The very mention of his name is guaranteed to agitate the donors and the money will soon follow.

According to its online tax records, the SPLC took in over $132 million in donations in 2017, up from $50 million in 2016. Its cash-on-hand endowment fund grew from $319 million to $432 million over the same period. Fully 98% of the endowment fund is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

Ironically (a term one uses so often when describing the company), the SPLC issued several statements declaring that: “Dehumanizing rhetoric — unacceptable from anyone — is especially dangerous when it comes from the mouth of the president.”

Considering the hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars the SPLC has generated over the past decades specifically through the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric,” such as the ever-profitable “hate group” label, “domestic extremists” and “radical traditionalists” one has to wonder how the company avoids choking on its own hypocrisy.

“Unacceptable from anyone…”

Some readers may remember the SPLC’s longtime spokesman, Mark Potok, who was unceremoniously fired from the company in March, 2017, after 20 years of highly lucrative service, most of which was built squarely upon the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric.” Apparently, this usage was quite acceptable when Mr. Potok was channeling millions of donor-dollars into the company’s coffers.

One prime example can be found in a 2007 speech Mr. Potok gave before a hate crime conference in Michigan:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are.”

That zinger drew a laugh from the assembled anti-haters, oddly enough. Potok continued with the statement:

“Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!”

Feel the love. Donate early and often.

This brings us to the SPLC’s latest fundraising scheme. Just as the company found ways to cash in on the Confederate flag controversy in 2015 and the tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017, the SPLC’s growing team of PR professionals have come up with another classic fundraising scam:

“TELL PRESIDENT TRUMP TO STOP USING RACIST AND DEHUMANIZING RHETORIC,” proclaims the page on the SPLC website. “This kind of rhetoric is unacceptable from anyone,” they remind us, in a brief statement that completely omits any reference to MS-13 whatsoever.

How best to do this? A link to the White House website? No. Mr. Trump’s personal Twitter handle? Nope. Maybe a useful email link to your senators or members of Congress? Not seeing any.

Instead, the SPLC has conveniently provided a short online form where you can enter your name, location and email address. That’s all you have to do.

Tell Trump

What happens to your personal information when you hit the blue button? The site doesn’t say. Maybe your name goes on a petition, though wouldn’t you’d think they’d mention that?

No. Just as with the SPLC’s brilliant, though now-retired, “Stand Strong Against Hate” map and its lucrative offspring, the “Wall of Tolerance,” your contact information will go directly to the company’s massive, in-house fundraising machine, and you put it there yourself, of your own free will.

Just as tens of thousands of SPLC donors, new and old, believe that they are “fighting hate” with their annual donations when their money actually goes to third party telemarketers, you haven’t “taken a stand against hate” any more than you have taken a solemn oath to “work for justice, equality and human rights.”

All you’ve done is given the Southern Poverty Law Center’s fundraisers your personal contact information.

Operators are standing by.

SPLC — Hoaxed Again!

December 22, 2016

In another ham-fisted fear campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center has embarked on a series of unsubstantiated, unverified and largely anecdotal “reports” that claim hundreds of “hate incidents” (not to be confused with actual hate crimes) and over a thousand “incidents” have recently been reported across the country at large and hundreds more occurring within the nation’s school systems.

The undeniable cause of this effect? It could only be the hate-filled election of Donald Trump, right? What else could it be (that would still agitate the donors into forking over more money)?

As we have been reporting over the weeks since the election, neither SPLC “report” stands up to the slightest breath of fact checking. The company makes huge claims of receiving thousands of reports over a web page on their website where anyone in the world can “report an incident” and they themselves disclaim that their “Trump Effect” survey of “educators” is not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, there’s no mechanism to verify that the respondents were even “educators” and all of the responses were anecdotal.

The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.

Opening her report on “election-related bias” in the elementary schools, Teaching Tolerance’s Maureen Costello makes the bizarre claim that:

“Every student, from preschoolers up through high school, is aware of the tone, rhetoric and catch-phrases of this particular campaign season.”

Really, Maureen? Every student glued to the debates, watching Meet the Press over their weekend Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts? Even kindergartners? Really? Costello peppered her report with anonymous quotes to prove that Hell’s hand-basket has arrived. [Caution: Some readers may find the following graphic content disturbing.]

One Muslim girl clung to her kindergarten teacher on November 9 and asked, “Are they going to do anything to me? Am I safe?” – Early Childhood Teacher, Tennessee

A lesbian student’s mother was telling her that life as we knew it was over, and she was quite distraught about her mother. Children are very worried about being deported or killed. – Elementary Counselor, Illinois

Pretty heart-wrenching stuff, no? It’s hard enough being a lesbian in the third grade without Donald Trump sending your mom over the edge, and let’s face it, Elementary Counselor — Illinois has never lied to us before.

On the national scene, more anonymous reports and more disclaimers that the anonymous reports were pretty much all anecdotal.

A Latina woman in Texas reported: I was walking my baby at my neighborhood park and a truck drove by with a male driving and a female passenger. The female yelled “white power” at us as they drove by and then sped away.

It doesn’t get much more Trump-related than that, or more undeniable. After all, it’s “anecdotal,” right?

November 15: “These incidents, aside from news reports, are largely anecdotal.”

December 16: “The SPLC made every effort to verify each report, but many included in the count remain anecdotal.”

 anecdotal
adjective

  1. (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research: ‘while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/anecdotal

The SPLC “reports” do include several media reports, and if the anonymous, anecdotal incidents were not proof enough, “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

This time, the SPLC got it right. A growing number of “incidents” really were directly tied to Trump’s election.

ten-days-after

And the suspect is…

andrew-mcclinton-arrested

Unlike the SPLC, we’re not going to jump to any conclusions because the authorities are still working through the case, and unlike the SPLC, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not a court of public opinion.

The same goes for this gentleman:

philly

And him:

palmer

And this young “activist”:

volk

This young woman says she made her story up because she was late for curfew:

yasmin

Let’s be honest. A lot of hateful, ignorant things have been said before and after the election, with no shortage of them coming from Trump himself, and sadly, there is no shortage of knuckleheads who will commit hoaxes in accordance with the voices they hear in their heads.

One thing you can always count on, the SPLC will find a way to build a classic fearmongering campaign around them.

THIS JUST IN: A gay couple were removed from a JetBlue flight today for allegedly verbally abusing Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her family, who were flying commercial.

According to tweets by one of the men, his husband was upset to find Trump’s family on the flight and was “chasing them down to harass them.” [Who says one spouse can’t testify against another? Someone’s going to have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do when they get home tonight.]
ivanka

Finally, SPLC, a genuine “election-related hate incident” for your collection. Let’s see if it makes it onto the list.


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