Sunday, March 13, 2016

Credulous Trump Supporters Report Hoax News Unquestioningly

Hey folks. Miss me?

Though we focus on Canadian content primarily, we can't help but be both fascinated and horrified by the Donald Trump phenomenon. We are witnessing political rhetoric that would have found a comfortable home in Italy during the 1920s. I had always believed that while demagogues such as Trump have always existed, they would be marginalized in nations with strong, long lasting, democratic institutions (despite the inherent flaws in those institutions).

Seems that's not the case as Trump is likely on his way to become the standard bearer of one of the two major American political parties by offering a steady stream of xenophobia, hatred, nativism, ultra-nationalism, and violence. The result of this could mean the end of the Republican Party or, if elected, far worse.

The media, as well as some in his own party, have finally started to call him on his continual incitement to violence. Trump deflects by claiming to oppose violence (though he has both wistfully advocated its use as well as justifying when it occurs) while blaming his opponents of initiating the violent encounters. And his supporters bleat their agreement, claiming that Trump, and themselves, are really the victims of a cabal including, George Soros, the other Republican presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Muslims, the media, Black Lives Matter, and the Black Panthers.

So when this "story" was published online yesterday, the Trump supporters were all over it like a fat kid on a smartie:

The story of Robert King Bullock's murder has hits all the points that Trump supporters have been making for months; leftists and progressives are violent, racist, hypocrites who "real Americans" need to be on guard against. THEY are the reason why "real" Americans must be armed since they are truly intolerant:

In Canada, where Trump also has his supporters, comments regarding the "murder" of Robert King Bullock was also trending on WCAI:

In addition to the posts made on social media concerning the "murder" of Mr. Bullock, one of the country's more prominent rightist bloggers also posted an article:

Well, actually there weren't multiple sources. There was only one source, "The Christian Times Newspaper" online which was republished by other fringe conservative online publications because it fit a narrative that they wanted to believe. This story confirmed their pre-existing biases.

Now, if one were to try to find the article on BCL's blog now, it won't happen.

There was no truth to this story, however. The Christian Times Newspaper is not a legitimate source of news, but rather a site that mixes real political news items — most of which have little or nothing to do with the subject of Christianity — with clickbait fake news items (with the "Black Trump Supporter Shot and Killed by Chicago Protesters" story being one of the latter category).

Had Arnie of BCL clicked on the, "about us" tab found on, "The Christian Times Newspaper" website, he would have found this which MAY have influenced his decision to republish the hoax:

Now, we could leave it this, right? We could laugh about how naive Trump supporters are and how ridiculous they show themselves to be when they re-post obvious hoaxes and help us to feel all smug and superior.

But the reality is this is profoundly dangerous. 

Trump has already agitated his supporters. While many have acted violently towards protesters, others are on the edge. In response rather than toning down his rhetoric Trump doubles down. He says that the people assaulted by his supporters aren't, "good people." He justifies the attacks and says he'll pay legal expenses for those arrested for assault. He continues to wistfully think back to the "good old days" when protesters would leave on stretchers to massive cheers.

Then, he suggest that the Trump supporters are the real victims. In fact, they are only defending themselves. They aren't to blame ultimately for any violence they engage in because the other side is dangerous. In fact, they need to be ready to defend themselves.

To illustrate the danger, here are a few comments left from the original source which, we remind our readers, "does not take responsibility for any of our readers' actions that may result from reading our stories" and, "we make it abundantly aware that not all stories are necessarily grounded in fact":

We would like to say we are consoled that the story was soon proven false and that it has been corrected.

We would like to say that, but we can't. Because it is still being retweeted and reposted and people continue to believe it.

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