I'm Right Again Dot Com

                             A new commentary every Wednesday — Dec 14th, 2016

TRUE LIES or the proliferation of fake news    

    I first became acquainted with how social media—Facebook, Twitter and the like—are infected with cleverly produced lies, although the owners of this new media want to prevent it—when I viewed an elaborate hoax, involving a non-existent FBI Agent and Hillary Clinton, during the waning days of the presidential election.     

     The overriding concerns of firms such as Google, Yahoo and Comcast Xfinity is that fake news is hurtful to their multi-billion-dollar enterprises—which are built on commercial advertising platforms— the same engine that drives publishing, broadcasting, billboards and the myriad number of other types of advertising to which we are constantly subjected.

      What got my attention was a false claim that an FBI Agent had either killed a female acquaintance and then either committed suicide or was also murdered after it was found that he had leaked information to the media relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's careless use of Internet servers. The story even carried a photograph of what was represented to be the agent's home, ablaze in the night, intimating that perhaps both were killed in an attempt to effect a cover-up of someone's manipulation of the election. Further inquiry revealed that Hillary did mess-up big-time, but the bit about the FBI agent, bodies found with bullet holes in the victims' heads...even the fire, was a fiction. It never happened.

     The sociopath who generated this fake news story is somewhere preparing to harm someone else, probably in a futile attempt to satisfy a premature sexual maladjustment. They've a lot in common with "firebug" arsonists.

    We have for a very long time been aware that many of the publishers of tabloid newspapers, especially those displayed near the checkout counters in supermarkets, make fortunes with headlines such as "SHE BAKED THE BABY IN THE OVEN." (This is still regarded as a classic in the tabloid business.) 

    It didn't take long before such trash, and worse, to make its way onto the World Wide Web. I read recently that it has made instant millionaires of some young entrepreneurs in Macedonia. The idea is to plant juicy stories on the front page of websites they and their colleagues bring into being, build a big following by publishing provocative fake news items and tons of advertising dollars is sure to follow.

     The following has, thus far, been the most bizarre of the political season's conspiracy stories: Do not waste a second of your existence thinking that it could, by the greatest stretch of your imagination, be true. The Fake News story alleged that Hillary Clinton and her Chief of Staff are somehow connected to a global pedophile ring operating out of the basement of a certain pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. I can't help but think that whomever got this totally insane hoax started may have intended it to be satire.

    I did not support Ambassador Clinton in her run for the White House. Nevertheless, I think that this slanderous tale exceeds the bounds of plain old rough and tumble politics, ethics and believability by any sane person. Who could ever be taken in with this totally ridiculous, fake conspiracy story?   

    Well, Mr. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina was. On December 5th (this month), Edgar loaded his trusty AR-15 with high-velocity bullets, drove for six hours to the District of Columbia and blasted through a door to what he believed led to the basement under a real pizza parlor identified in the bogus story. From what I can gather, he doesn't appear to be an escapee from an insane asylum, but a brave but grievously misled man on a mission.

    It would be easy to dismiss Mr. Welch as a certified wakko, and we've certainly a surplus of them among us, but then we learned that the adult son and aide to Lt. General Michael Flynn, who has been nominated by President-elect Trump to be the National Security Advisor, had also bought into what has now been termed "Pizzagate." It was left up to Vice President-elect Pence to disclaim any participation by Flynn Junior in the work of the Transition Team that's preparing the White House for the work of the Trump administration. I have high hopes for General Flynn. His son, not so much.

    Luckily for everyone, Patriot Welch was a poor marksman. We know very little about him, except that he is a father of two and the winner of the top 2016 Worldwide Award for Gullibility, but we will when he appears in court on charges that include felonious assault for having allegedly aimed his rifle at a pizza tosser and shooting the lock off a door in the pizza place. He confessed to police that he wanted to find out if there was actually a basement under the pizza parlor where abused and molested children were held captive.

    Just imagine what the poor guy will have to confront at his favorite bar after he returns to Salisbury. He may as well wear a T-shirt that says "Nut Case" on the front and back. The denizens of small towns can be unrelentingly cruel.

     When the New York Times, the Washington Post and Snopes fact-checkers published stories in a effort to refute the fake news story about the aforementioned pizza parlor, a scammer who signed himself "Representative Steven Smith of the 15th District of Georgia" (There is no such person or office) went on public media stoking the claim that the mainstream media was conducting a cover-up of the alleged pizza parlor for pedophiles. This is no joke.

    Consequently, the new false charges received 250,000 hits and the owners of the pizza parlor shut down after receiving a barrage of death threats.    

    Here is your takeaway: Somehow, somewhere, someone is guilty of something and we need for them to be prosecuted. It may not stop fake news entirely, but it may slow down its proliferation a little bit. 


-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken


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