“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s increasingly shaky claim of an anti-gay, pro-Trump beating on the cold and dark streets of Chicago has pointed up a growing trend in America.
A “fake news” subculture of hoaxes, post Donald Trump’s campaign and election, has erupted.
Whether its anti-black graffiti at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, nooses in Mississippi or Catholic students at the Lincoln Memorial, hoaxes have become a common tactic of the left.
The trend has two key points: The hoaxes rail against America as an intolerant evil place, and they are instantly embraced by the mainstream media, Hollywood and liberals.
When Mr. Smollett announced on Jan. 29 he had been attacked by two masked men in Make America Great Again caps, Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the House’s revived Russia election meddling probe, emphatically accepted the claim.
“I met @JussieSmollett at the Pride Parade in Los Angeles, and I’ve seen the passion and moral clarity of his activism first hand,” the California Democrat tweeted. “This week he was the victim of an horrific attack. We pray for your speedy recovery, Jussie, and reject this act of hatred and bigotry.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, tweeted: “No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love.”
“I can’t believe this happened. It is sad and disgusting and deplorable,” tweeted CNN commentator Ana Navarro, using former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s disparaging description of Trump supporters.
Social media accusations that Covington Catholic High School students of upbraiding American Indian Nathan Phillips were immediately repeated by national media figures before actual facts were known. A New York Times reporter called for the kids’ expulsion.
In Philadelphia, spray-painted swastikas alongside pro-Trump messages were packaged by the mainstream media as the “new America” under President Trump. They had been painted by a black man.
Stephen Malloy, whose JunkScience.com takes on what he considers hoaxes in academia and science, said political frauds are easier to spring. Labor-intensive, traditional information campaigns to sway public opinion and bash conservatives take more time.
“For people interested in rapid social change, typically left-wingers, totalitarians and their media allies, really is messy and persuasion is difficult and time-consuming,” Mr. Malloy told The Washington Times. “But these hurdles can be reduced and overcome by the drama of some sort of incident, real or manufactured. Genuine incidents are hard to come by, so they must be either manufactured or hyped and distorted.”
To be sure, there have always been hoaxes. There was the claim of rape by the Duke University men’s lacrosse team in 2006 that energized the liberal media until an investigation revealed it for be an elaborate hoax.
The name Tawana Brawley comes to mind from 1987. Then there was the 2014 “A Rape on Campus” story in which Rolling Stone was taken in by a student hoaxer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
But today, fake news incidents seem to be coming faster.
Examples of viral reports of alleged hateful acts that captured the national news media:
• Chicago, Jan. 29. While national media anointed Mr. Smollett in victimhood, local press systemically took apart his bizarre tale of being bushwhacked by two men who proclaimed, “This is MAGA country.”
Police sources quoted two Nigerian brothers as saying Mr. Smollett, a TV star and rapper who conveys a deep dislike of Mr. Trump, paid them to fake an attack, complete with a rehearsal.
Ms. Navarro and other liberals deleted their pro-Smollett tweets.
• Houston, Dec. 30. The story was that a white motorist apparently shot and killed 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, a black child who was riding with her mother in a car on a highway. Police posted a composite sketch of the white shooter.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, and activist Shaun King rallied around a racial killing.
“However it is defined, it is a hateful and vicious act with violence and guns on innocent women and children driving for a Sunday morning coffee break,” Ms. Lee said on Jan. 5, according to NBC News.
“There was no other justification or the motivation that the family could identify, other than a white male who was a complete stranger to them decided to target their family,” said the family’s lawyer.
The Daily Caller reported that Mr. King continued pushing the white gunman theory even after receiving a tip that the killer was a black man with an accomplice.
“What more can you tell me about ,” Mr. King tweeted. “He was arrested in Houston hours after Jazmine was murdered on another violent crime spree. We’ve had 20 people call or email us and say he is a racist, violent ass—- and always has been. Just tell me everything you know.”
Further investigation showed the girl was killed by Eric Black Jr., a black man, in a drive-by shooting.
The white “suspect” was apparently in a red truck that drove past.
• Mississippi, Nov. 26. Two nooses and homemade signs referring to lynchings suddenly showed up at the Mississippi state Capitol. Headlines suggested the display was a hate crime.
The nooses appeared the day before a special election to choose the state’s U.S. senator.
Conservatives said that, despite calls for a hate crime investigation, it was obvious the nooses were a political statement to sway voters to back the Democrat.
ABC News referred to the “racially charged” special election between Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, who had made an off-putting quip about “a public hanging,” and Democratic challenger Mike Espy, who is black.
“State officials said the nooses were accompanied by handwritten signs mentioning lynchings and Tuesday’s special Senate runoff, which has drawn attention to Mississippi’s history of racially motivated violence,” ABC said.
Wrote Alex Griswold in The Washington Free Beacon: “Who in their right mind saw those signs and made the determination that they were ‘hateful?’ The nooses were rather clearly left by a group critical of Hyde-Smith, her joke and Mississippi racist past. I struggle to see how any rational person could judge it otherwise.”
• Philadelphia, Nov. 9, 2016. Police found cars and homes spray-painted with swastikas and racist taunts. “Trump rules,” said one.
Said The New York Daily News: “Donald Trump’s unexpected rise to the presidency coincided with the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht — and Nazis in Philadelphia appeared to revel in the fact as police there discovered the President-elect’s name spray-painted alongside swastikas on a storefront window Wednesday morning.”
Two weeks later, police arrested and charged William Tucker, a black man, with the vandalism.
• Air Force Academy Preparatory School, September 2017. Racial slurs were found on five black cadets’ message boards.
Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, school superintendent, assembled the officer candidates to denounce racism.
“If you’re outraged by those words then you’re in the right place,” Gen. Silveria said. “That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school.”
Weeks later, an investigation found that a black student, one of the five supposedly targeted, wrote the messages. He was expelled.
• Lincoln Memorial, Jan. 18. Initial social media reports accused a group of white Catholic high school students from Kentucky, a few wearing MAGA hats, of hurling insults at an American Indian activist during the annual March for Life.
A national outcry erupted. Major news media and liberal activists condemned the students. Some called for violence.
In the end, the kids did nothing wrong. A collection of videos showed that a fringe protest group had pummeled them in insults and that the activist initiated the encounter. He hadn’t been insulted.
A report commissioned by the school’s diocese cleared the boys.
Lawsuits are planned against media figures who disparaged the teenagers.
There have been other hoaxes:
• At Kansas State University, two racist graffiti incidents in 2017-18 were found to be hoaxes, perpetrated by the supposed victims themselves, but not before they stirred racial finger-pointing and unrest on campus.
• In Indianapolis, a church was vandalized with “Heil Trump” in May 2017. It turned out a gay activist did it.
• A Fox News report found 10 campuses hate crime hoaxes in 2017 alone.
Conservatives say they see a familiar pattern: a rush to believe liberal hoaxers, then media detachment once they are proven false.
“Has there been any single retraction or apology by anyone who jumped on the Smollett story? Any one,” tweeted columnist Stephen Miller.
National Review critic Kyle Smith wrote in The New York Post: “Don’t hold your breath waiting for mea culpas from Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris, or (throwback time!) Al Sharpton, who opined that if Donald Trump simply remained silent on the Smollett matter, it would be sinister. The formerly successful actress Ellen Page blamed the nonexistent assault on Mike Pence.”
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