Fake News Presents Real Perils for Us

By Robinson, Eugene | Charleston Gazette Mail, December 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Fake News Presents Real Perils for Us


Robinson, Eugene, Charleston Gazette Mail


WASHINGTON - Fake news leads eventually to real tragedy. It almost got there Sunday when an idiot brought a loaded assault rifle into a Washington pizzeria, firing at least one shot, in an attempt to "self-investigate" a preposterous made-up conspiracy theory. No one was hurt - this time. But the same kind of thing will happen again, thanks to the poison being dispensed by "alt-right" and white- supremacist propagandists. They concocted "news" stories out of whole cloth during the campaign in an attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton and those closest to her. Is anyone surprised that some people take these paranoid fantasies as gospel truth? I'm not.

President-elect Donald Trump makes matters worse by trumpeting "facts" that are nonfactual. To the extent that he shapes the "post- truth" media landscape, he shares responsibility for the consequences.

The made-up story that inspired Sunday's incident grew out of the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. There were a number of exchanges between Podesta and the owner of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza parlor. Suspicious? Not in the least. Comet is located in the affluent neighborhood that is home to much of the political establishment. And anyone involved in politics knows that campaigns basically run on pizza.

Also, quite a few of Podesta's hacked emails had to do with food. Apparently, he likes to eat well. How sinister.

In any event, cynics writing on sites such as Facebook, Reddit, Infowars and Inquisitr spun these innocent facts into a dark, hydra- headed conspiracy involving the alleged trafficking and sexual exploitation of young children. Hidden rooms and secret tunnels were supposedly involved, and no, I am not making this up. Other people made it up, and some gullible readers swallowed it.

Among the believers, apparently, was Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, who allegedly walked into Comet Ping Pong waving around a loaded AR-15-style rifle. Fortunately, employees and customers were able to flee. Welch allegedly fired at least one shot before surrendering to police, who said he had a second firearm with him in the restaurant and a third in his car. He is charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Police said Welch told them he came to the nation's capital to look into the ridiculous child trafficking story. …

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