Monday, December 5, 2016

Fake News Leads To Real Consequences (UPDATED)

You may of heard of one of the most insane rumors being touted in pro- Trump fake news outlets before the election that involved a popular family restaurant in Washington, DC, Comet Ping Pong:
The popular family restaurant, near Connecticut and Nebraska avenues NW in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, was swept up in the onslaught of fake news and conspiracy theories that were prevalent during the presidential campaign. The restaurant, its owner, staff and nearby businesses have been attacked on social media and received death threats. [snip] 
The restaurant’s owner and employees were threatened on social media in the days before the election after fake news stories circulated claiming that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms. Even Michael Flynn, a retired general whom President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to advise him on national security, shared stories about another anti-Clinton conspiracy theory involving pedophilia.* None of them were true. But the fake stories and threats persisted, some even aimed at children of Comet Ping Pong employees and patrons. The restaurant’s owner was forced to contact the FBI, local police, Facebook and other social-media platforms in an effort to remove the articles. (our emphasis)
Well, just as elections have consequences, so do fake news stories:
A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign. 
The incident caused panic, with several businesses going into lockdown as police swarmed the neighborhood after receiving the call shortly before 3 p.m. 
Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant; they think that all other occupants had fled when Welch began shooting. 
As Mark Twain once said (and as Mr. Welch is discovering), "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

True to form, right- wing fake news purveyors are denying this dimwit was motivated by their fake news stories, claiming it's a (wait for it) "false flag" operation.  However, looking at some information about Welch (a registered Republican and someone who follows right- wing conspiracy nutjob Alex Jones), it's hard to see this "self- investigator" as anything but the delusional -- and, unfortunately, well- armed -- dimbulb that he is.

Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident, but we can't always expect to be so fortunate.  That's why it's way past time to shut down these platforms that spread malicious lies and to prosecute not only the dimbulbs that take violent action like Welch, but those who encourage them.

* The execrable son of Lt. Gen. "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn (ret.) is one of those trying to deflect attention and blame from the far- right fake news sites. The nut didn't fall far from the tree.

UPDATE:  Flynn's neckbearded son has a history of peddling crap (and he's in the transition team):

(Photo: Today's unstable Stormtrumper in the news -- Welch/ Facebook)


Grung_e_Gene said...

Just like Sister Sarah Palin and Tall targeting Gabby Giffords, conservatives will simply elide past this and retort what about #blm, huh? Huh? Huh, libtatd?

W. Hackwhacker said...

Yup. And the media will be only too happy to oblige them in their misdirection and obfuscation. Down the memory hole with you!

Thanks, Gene.