Freddie’s Dishonor Roll

For those of you unawares, the media was duped by a fake account purporting to be Ammon Bundy, son of Clive and a part of that mess in Oregon. The most high-profile case is Shaun King, who wrote an article responding to the fake tweet and the New York Daily News which refused to acknowledge the error. Freddie points out, though, that it was a remarkably widespread error:

Today, dozens of journalists and hundreds of their followers were effortlessly rolled by an unverified Twitter account that compared conservative moron Ammon Bundy to beloved Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks. A bunch of predictable pieces got posted; a thousand outraged tweets were sent into the wild. And all without anyone bothering to consider the fact that any random person can start a Twitter account. One journalist — one– bothered to actually check the facts. MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil, who’s on the ground at the site in question, asked Bundy, and Bundy said the Twitter account is not real. The account also posted while Bundy was chatting with journalists. Dokoupil actually did his job. Meanwhile, a ton of people who base their whole self-conception on the idea that they are savvier and smarter than everyone else got played for fools, because the narrative played so perfectly into their assumptions.

What I find especially weird about this is that people were taken in by a very similar ruse just four months ago, when Kim Davis allegedly compared herself to Rosa Parks on Twitter (via her husband).

So, dear media and tweeps and everybody, next time some conservative that seems to have a persecution complex compares himself or herself to Rosa Parks on Twitter, and it just seems too perfect… maybe it is.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

47 thoughts on “Freddie’s Dishonor Roll

  1. The thing is, there’s really no point in satirizing the situation. The unadorned facts on the ground are hilariously ridiculous as they stand.


  2. It’s interesting to me that in all of the non-OT pieces I have done so far, the most common and the most vitriolic criticism I get is that I actually talked to the people I wrote about.

    It really seems to bother a whole lot of people.


      • Opponents.

        All of the things I’ve done so far kind of fall into a broad category that might be loosely described as people who belong to pretty fringe tribes: MRMs, scientologists, cuddlers, sex offenders, Ashley Madison users, sovereign citizens, militia folk, etc. With the exception of cuddlers, they’re all tribes who are normally written about by people who point at/affect outrage/mock.

        That I actually talk to them before writing about them makes a lot of people really angry, and I get told all the time that I can’t understand these people if I engage or listen to them.

        I think it’s a weird position to hold. But I also think it’s a growing trend that’s spilling into more mainstream journalism.

        Take politics, for example. More and more, you’re seeing writers, commentators, and political journalists criticizing news agencies that interview candidates that are perceived to by on the other side. Its a sign of being “serious people,” or something. (I confess I don’t really get it.)


        • Ever hear that criticism over topics of debate, where people complain about news media giving equal voice to both sides of the “debate” when one side isn’t actually part of any actual debate? E.g. Evolution and giving equal time to creationists or intelligent design proponents in discussions over the scientific merits of evolution?

          I think that anger comes from misunderstanding that criticism.


        • Well, they have this odd seductive power, where you talk to them and suddenly you start acting like they’re reasonable people who have some valid points and maybe we should engage with their ideas instead of dismissing them out of hand as garbage talk from human trash.

          I mean, we started getting to know gay people instead of driving them from the sight of the citizenry, and suddenly there’s gay marriage and girl soldiers and stuff. So you can see where it leads, right?


        • I admit that shocks me. Especially the anger. Though I have had a further lefty acquaintence of mine sever facebook ties after a spittle flecked diatribe on his part about GMO crops so perhaps it shouldn’t.


        • it’s a growing trend that’s spilling into more mainstream journalism.

          That is the part that I view as the real problem.

          The “neutrality” project of journalistic integrity bears certain inequities, due to the fact that it lacks in analysis.
          The commentator model of talk radio shifted things hard the other way.
          FOX News is something more along the lines of traditional yellow journalism, but chronologically is more an outgrowth of “infotainment,” resembling the commentator model while presenting cherry-picked facts (or fabricating them wholecloth).

          Even worse, the introduction of digital technology has vastly accelerated the rate of change.
          In a recent Pew report, over 50% of Americans identified Facebook as a primary source for news.

          The very concept of “news” is changing, with exchange of accurate, unbiased information relegated to obscurity.

          A big part of that is good, old-fashioned human nature– that it produces discomfort to hear things which are uncomfortable. Simple aversion.
          There may well be something to be said for “Fat, dumb, and happy” after all; not only a remuneration of virtues to strive for, but a revelation of the keys to our salvation.
          Intellect is bothersome, as is the sorrow of wisdom.


    • I think the fear is that by seeming to take them seriously, you imply that they ought to be taken seriously. Giving them intellectual space in which to make their case implies that their case has a seat at the table in the first place.

      But not giving people access to the regular marketplace of ideas drives them to a sort of “black market” for their ideas. And it may well be that the product of ideas being exchanged in that “black market” beyond the Overton Window results in things like the Tea Party getting a guy like Paul LePage elected governor of a state.


        • Here’s a note that I recently wrote as commentary to another project, quite timely here:

          This is reminiscent of the definition of “finite of its own kind” from Spinoza’s Ethics; that a body can limit another body, and an idea can limit another idea, because we can always conceive of one which is greater, but a body cannot limit an idea, nor may an idea limit a body.
          This is one justification for free expression, that ideas which are bad are best dealt with by bringing them into the light to examine them, rather than hiding them away in darkness, untried, and untested.
          Currently, there is talk of concerns of the re-publication of Mein Kampf, but it is always the case that an idea must be defeated with another idea.
          Choking out an idea is a bad strategy.
          Typically, it leads to unforeseen consequences of a negative nature. It forces those impulses through tiny cracks where it ordinarily would not go.

          Some simply do not understand well enough the wisdom of overcoming an idea with an idea which is greater, but direct their efforts in overcoming ideas with bodies.
          There are a host of terms to describe such acts, and such persons, and, to my knowledge, none of them are generally held to be complimentary.


          • Interesting. In reading (the other) Thoreau this morning, I clicked on one of the essays he linked to and they both touch on this.

            The part of the essay talking about how it’s the fault of “the left” is, of course, exceptionally risible and I have no truck with it.

            That said, I am always interested whenever things start being overdetermined. The more overdetermined something is, the more cracks there will be for it to ooze through.


            • I took a look, and I don’t find the part about the rise of Trump being the fault of the Left as risible, though I do disagree.
              I’ve been reading commentaries on Paulo Freire lately (I need more time to read the man himself), and it seems as if there are distinct issues with the implementation of his ideas which are quite common.
              I believe that is what Thoreau refers to as Type 3.


  3. As per usual, there are two sources wherein you can find a succinct explanation of just about every crazy thing happening in this world. One is The Onion and the other is The Wire. So, Slim Charles said it best :

    The overwhelming majority of political content on the internet has little to do with debating policies or exchanging ideas. It’s rote ideological warfare and partisan signalling games.


  4. I don’t think this is a problem unique to this story. The problem seems to be a strong part of Internet journalism in particular because all the incentives of internet journalism are to publish first and be interesting. The scoop was always important to journalism but there is a big difference when writing for a daily and needing to beat the presses and writing on the Internet where things get updated hourly. If not sooner.

    Another recent example of the media (and everyone) getting fooled by an unsubstantiated tweet was the Wu-Tang and Bill Murray can steal this CD clause.


    • There was another one circulating recently about Obama writing something in The Audacity of Hope something about favoring Islamic culture over American values, which turned out to be untrue. The quote cited simply didn’t exist.
      And that’s from a book, a copy of which is available at any library.


    • I don’t think this is in the same class as the Wutang thing. “Wu-Tang and Bill Murray can steal this CD” struck me from the beginning as a hilarious clause to even consider having in a contract, to the point where it didn’t matter at all if it was actually in the real contract or not – it was a funny joke, and on the outside chance it was true then it was a true funny joke, which doesn’t really change it much. I would never expect anyone to take it seriously, not even if they were handed a copy of the contract as the ink dried and saw the clause there.

      Compare “conservative(s) think(s) they’re the new Rosa Parks” – this is an idea that fits the mental narratives of the people reading it, to the point that they might actually believe it true. If there is actually a chance that people will draw false beliefs from your statement (beyond “what’s-his-bucket and Wu-Tang have a pretty great sense of humor”, or whatever), there is a much greater burden on you as a conveyor of information to ensure that the information you convey is accurate.


  5. Meanwhile, a ton of people who base their whole self-conception on the idea that they are savvier and smarter than everyone else got played for fools, because the narrative played so perfectly into their assumptions.

    As one-sentence summaries of human history go, this one ain’t bad.


  6. I think gets a big part of it up above. The instantaneous aspect of internet journalism is a major factor, along with the need to be precieved as being clued in.

    The other half of it? Rosa Parks is a saint on the left and of the left. She shall not be dragged to the right in any way. Nothing will get the hackles up quicker than a saint of one side be part of the other side.


    • Another major factor is there is no real price to be paid for getting it wrong. The more outrageous it is, the more clicks you get, so even when it is time to print a retraction, you’ve made a bit of bank. Plus, your loyal readership will almost instantly forgive you, and the more writers/pundits who get taken in by the false story, the more willing that forgiveness will be.

      The worst cost is getting mocked by the opposition, which will last right up until something shiny causes attentions to shift (so, like 30 minutes).


    • Rosa Parks is a saint on the left and of the left. She shall not be dragged to the right in any way. Nothing will get the hackles up quicker than a saint of one side be part of the other side.

      It should be noted that Ms. Parks was dressed conservatively at the time of her renowned arrest.


  7. Something our esteemed Erik found.

    In the end, I came to my own conclusion…

    The Huffington Post has no idea what the fuck it’s talking about.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve grown exhausted with the horseshit, hater culture that online, millennial ‘journalists’ use to click-bait their way to some sort of self-perceived intellectual high ground. Hate first. Don’t bother asking questions later.


  8. I hope everyone has seen this Doc Saunders piece on a terrible Time Magazine post.

    As Saul says, watch the incentives. Time posted something stupid, and a bunch of people shared it, at least some of whom were sharing it to say how stupid it was. Then Doc wrote an article linking to it and calling it stupid. What does this do to’s revenues?

    It’s hard to see how Time suffers for this. Are people going to click on Time less in the future as a result of all this? I don’t think so. It seems you actually get rewarded for getting things wrong.


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