In his final weeks in office, President Barack Obama has launched a crusade against the rise of “fake news.” He is saturating news and entertainment media with the message that Russian hacks (perpetuated with Vladamir Putin’s full knowledge) resulted in fake news that impacted the presidential election—stopping just short of blaming Putin directly for Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
“There's no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary's emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” Obama said. Of course, Clinton herself also contributed by mishandling classified information and then lying to us about it, but I digress.
Let’s get back to Obama’s new campaign: “If fake news that’s being released by some foreign government is almost identical to reports that are being issued through partisan news venues, then it’s not surprising that foreign propaganda will have a greater effect,” he warned in a press conference. If we were as gullible as Obama says, then we’d be sending congratulatory messages to all those celebrities who gave birth to aliens.
Obama also insulted the intelligence of “voters who’ve been listening to that stuff for years, who have been getting that stuff everyday from talk radio or other venues, they’re going to believe it.” Those voters have been exposed to the tabloids in the checkout line for years, too: If we were as gullible as Obama says, then we’d be sending congratulatory messages to all those celebrities who gave birth to aliens.
NRA knows all about fake news; we’ve been fighting it for decades. We remember when media labeled certain ammo as “cop killer bullets;” how politicians demonized small, inexpensive handguns as “Saturday Night Specials;” and how gun-control organizations rebranded themselves as “gun-safety groups.” Even now, when a reporter calls an AR-15 an “assault weapon,” a gun owner spits up coffee.
For perhaps the most egregious example of anti-gun fake news, let’s go back to May 15, 2003. Discussing the reauthorization of the Clinton “assault weapons” ban, CNN’s John Zarrella and Broward, Fla., County Sheriff Ken Jenne used fully automatic firearms to demonstrate the supposed power of banned semi-automatic rifles. In truth, Clinton’s ban included no full-auto firearms.
Zarrella and Jenne even went so far as to show the “banned” firearms demolishing cinderblocks while, shockingly, the “legal” version had no effect whatsoever (CNN later admitted that the deputy had fired at the ground). The next day, Wayne LaPierre correctly lit up CNN’s Kyra Phillips, saying “Your bureau chief, John Zarrella, deliberately faked the story yesterday …” The resulting brouhaha is the stuff of legend, and CNN’s reputation among gun owners remains tarnished to this day (CNN never fully admitted to, nor apologized for, the fraud).
This particular line of attack is especially galling coming from Obama—The King of Fake News. In reality, “Fake News” is the new fake news; It’s a thinly disguised effort to rebrand “propaganda.”
Remember “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”? That the Benghazi attack was due to “the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video”? That there was “not a smidgeon of corruption” when the IRS targeted conservative groups?
When it comes to disseminating fake Second Amendment news, Obama is second to none; his administration has maintained an 8-year-long anti-gun news feed. See how many of these fact-free Obamanouncements you can recall:
- Banning those on the no-fly list from buying guns will keep them out of the hands of terrorists.
- Congress made it harder for public health experts to research gun violence.
- 90 percent of Mexican crime guns come from the U.S.
- 90 percent of Americans want “universal” background checks.
- The Sandy Hook murderer used a “fully-automatic weapon.”
- The U.S. leads the world in gun violence.
- Mass shootings don’t happen in other advanced countries.
- Criminals buy guns on the internet to avoid background checks.
- Criminals buy guns at gun shows to avoid background checks.
- Criminals hide behind trusts to buy more dangerous firearms.
- Slashers in China would be even more effective if they had access to more powerful weapons.
- The ATF never knowingly allowed the sale of guns to Mexican straw purchasers (see Fast and Furious).
- The AR-15 is a “weapon of war.”
- It is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.
And, of course, our favorite:
In reality, “Fake News” is the new fake news; it’s a thinly disguised effort to rebrand “propaganda.” By labeling it as a Russian threat to national security, perhaps Obama thinks we’ll confuse it with an episode of “The Americans,” the TV series about KGB agents in America that we ignorant rednecks probably think is a documentary.
The real danger in “fake news” is that it serves as a label that can be used to quash speech one finds disagreeable. Calls for news upon which we can all agree, spooned out to us by approved sources and vetted by official “gatekeepers,” already sounds so Orwellian that one might question whether “The Americans” is fiction, after all.
Facebook has announced its intent to appoint “gatekeepers” to sift the news for us. They’ve enlisted help from Politifact, ABC and Snopes. This is hardly comforting, coming from an Internet behemoth that has already been caught screening out conservative viewpoints, and had to send a memo to employees to remind them to be tolerant of support for Trump.
How long before the “fake news” gatekeepers decide that the NRA is so out of their mainstream that we no longer deserve access to their distribution channels?