WHAT FAKE NEWS CAN YOU BELIEVE?

by Taylor McClain


On Saturday, March 4, 2017, a British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was, in the 1980s a “Gun for Hire” during his tenure as the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. The newspaper alleges that Sessions used his power to “target Democrats” at the behest of Republican Party politicians. The article goes on to say that Sessions worked from a “hit list” of names of Democratic Party politicians and officials indicting one after another for corruption.

The article uses phrases like “Sessions had no direct evidence” in most of the cases, “a flimsy, weak case,” “remarkably thin prosecution cases,” “he went after political enemies,” “he’s an ideologue,” and “the evidence…was far from clear cut.”

Also, the article points to Sessions’ prosecution of Mobile County Commissioner Lambert Mims on corruption charges arising out of “obscure four-year-old negotiations” over the contract for a waste recycling plant, as curious since the indictment arose after a prominent Republican announced that he, in addition to Mims, was running for Mayor. But one might ask about the relevance of The Guardian’s rehashing of thirty-five-year-old claims against Sessions especially since Sessions has already been confirmed as the U.S. Attorney General. This is more than curious.

Yet, the article does not mention that Sessions was just the prosecutor and not the jury that convicted the Republican Party defendants. And if all the pejorative phrases the article levels against Sessions were true, then how did Sessions’ office achieve a solid 98% conviction rate during his term as the U.S. Attorney?

Jeff Sessions has to be one of the most investigated and background-checked people in Washington, D.C. and in 1986 an independent Justice Department investigation into the same claims made by The Guardian confirmed that the charges against Sessions were “utterly without foundation.”

So, what dog does The Guardian, a British tabloid, have in this hunt?

On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, The Guardian ran a piece that boldly announced . . .

“Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as ‘unreliable’ source.”

For those of you who are not anglophiles, both The Guardian and the Daily Mail are British newspapers, which have U.S. editions online. Both compete for the same eyeballs in the U.S. For the Daily Mail to be tarred and feathered as a news source that is not dependable because of poor fact checking and sensationalistic by the prestigious online encyclopedia Wikipedia, would certainly be a kick down the ladder for the conservative Daily Mail and by derivation a step up for the liberal The Guardian.

Or would it?

Noteworthy is that the Wikipedia editors have asked for volunteers to review about 12,000 links to the Daily Mail already on Wikipedia and replace them with alternative sources wherever possible. And what alternative sources are there? Hmmm…The Guardian perhaps.

So, this all begs the question of the reliability of both The Guardian and Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is administered by volunteers of content editors who are tasked with fact-checking the articles since anyone can post anything on the site. But the decision to ban the Mail — the only major news outlet on the face of the Earth to be so censored — was supported by a mere 53 of its editors or 0.00018 percent of the site’s 30 million total, plus five ‘administrators.’

Banned as source material by many universities, Wikipedia’s reputation for carrying fake news has seen it claim (among other things) that Robbie Williams eats domestic pets, that the Greek philosopher Plato was a Hawaiian surfer who discovered Florida, and that the TV news presenter Jon Snow has been patron of the British Conifer Society. (For the record, Mr. Snow himself has said: ‘I hate conifers, and I’m not the society’s patron.’)

It seems as though Wikipedia is now aggressively recruiting colleges to shore up their reputation. And, “Today, educators are among those more concerned than ever with standards of truth and evidence and with the lightning-fast spread of misinformation online.” Do you believe this assertion? According to National Public Radio, it is true and on February 22, 2017, published an article in the NPREd online site that praised Wikipedia for giving professors the technical assistance they need to assign students, instead of writing a research paper, to write a brand-new Wikipedia entry, or expand an existing entry, on any topic in virtually any discipline.

This spring, 7,500 students are expected to participate—lots of opportunities for social justice warriors to expand their reach. And with the recent announcement of a 10-year, $100 million “permanent safekeeping” endowment, Wikipedia has the wherewithal to replenish its corps of unpaid volunteers with generous contributions to professors and colleges. What a great deal—the students continue to rack up tuition debt and their college fills its coffers by offering them as debt serfs to Wikipedia.

Sweet.

But I digress—back to the fake news. So, while climate science deniers on both sides of the Atlantic are working in concert to whip up a media storm to spread doubt and misinformation amongst the public about climate science, Leftist publications like The Guardian and TLE are, in concert with Wikipedia, diligently enlightening us with the whole truth.

Right.

For those of you who missed the story. climate change eccentric William Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. “Fake news” is an old story, used extensively by radical climate alarmists and environmentalists. But when author Lawrence Solomon tried to correct an article in Wikipedia that claimed that Dr. Bennie Peiser, a world renowned climate change skeptic, agreed with climate change scare scientist Naomi Oreskes, he found there was a problem—a big problem:

Of course Oreskes’s conclusions were absurd, and have been widely ridiculed. checked with Peiser, who said he had done no such thing. I then corrected the Wikipedia entry and advised Peiser that I had done so.

Peiser wrote back saying he couldn’t see my corrections on the Wikipedia page. I made the changes again, and this time confirmed that the changes had been saved. But then, in a twinkle, they were gone again. I made other changes. And others. They all disappeared shortly after they were made.”

As noted in the notrickszone.com and by Andy May in WUWT.com, William Connolley and his team tried to show that the global cooling scare of the 1970s was a myth. They also tried to scrub Wikipedia of any mention of the Little Ice Age or the Medieval Warm Period. A perfect example of fake news. They claimed only seven scientific papers of the period discussed global cooling. There are actually 163 papers on the subject, including seven that claim CO2 is causing global cooling not warming and include an article by the CIA. 

Getting back to the Mail censor by Wikipedia, the Mail discovered that the architect of the anonymous ban was a Wikipedia editor who goes by the alias of—are you ready for this—Hillbilly holiday. The Mail reported that “in the modern world, bigoted oddballs who are over-familiar with the internet can wield tremendous power — and this potty-mouthed man is a case in point” who posts obscene images and racist sentiments. According to the Mail, “His Facebook page includes an image of two gay men performing a sex act in public, a photograph of a naked, dark-haired man having oral sex with himself, and a painting that depicts bestiality between a man and a sheep.”

So, what news organization can the public put their faith in for reliable fake news? I’m not necessarily the best judge of these matters, but I find The Onion to consistently be the most reliable source for up to the minute fake news. Just yesterday The Onion reported that Jeff Sessions spit in the face of an FBI interrogator who tried to get him to turn on President Trump. But Sessions told the interrogator . . .  

“I’m not gonna crack, so you G-men can threaten me with whatever the hell you want—you’re just wasting your time. I’ll fucking die before I flip, so you got the balls to kill me?”

However, unhappily, The Onion reported that later, Sessions “had begun to break down and was frantically divulging everything he knew after agents asked him how long he thought he would last on the inside with all the people he had helped put away on marijuana charges over the years.”

Now there is some fake news you can depend on. 

 

Taylor McClain is a practicing attorney and an alumnus of the University of Alabama