The Blurring of Fact and Opinion, 2016-Style – “Pizzagate” (Part 4 of 5)

By now you’re probably familiar with the situation unfortunately known as “pizzagate” in which sources throughout the social media world – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, alt-right web site sites, and others – insisted that a certain Washington, D.C. pizza parlor was doing more than serving pepperoni: it was harboring young children as sex slaves as part of a child-abuse ring led by none other than Hillary Clinton.

The responsible press, as opposed to people sitting at their computers in their underwear munching Mallomars and just making up stuff, looked into the charges and thoroughly debunked them. With that done, you would have thought that the whole thing was over, right?

If only.

Wait - doesn't that look like a dozen kids hidden under one of those booths?

Wait – doesn’t that look like a dozen kids hidden under one of those booths?

Undeterred by a clear determination of fact and swayed instead by the allegations of the aforementioned underwear-wearing, Mallomar-chomping typists, a lunatic from North Carolina decided to check it out for himself, driving several hundred miles from his home to the pizza parlor, which he entered with guns a’blazin’ – one of those guns being an AR-15 rifle. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the wing-nut was arrested, explaining to the police that he heard about the Hillary child abuse ring, drove to Washington, D.C. to see for himself, but surrendered peacefully when he found no children being harbored in the restaurant between the stacks of marinara and shredded mozzarella.

Imagine that: the news reports that thoroughly debunked the story were accurate. Could that possibly be because they were investigated by professional journalists?

It’s hard to believe that in the months since the reports began circulating – they started in October – no one else who believed the story thought to actually, you know, drive to the pizza parlor to see for themselves and maybe rescue those poor kids, but now that someone other than one of those despised elitists from the mainstream media had done exactly that, the whole thing was over, right?

If only.

According to the New York Times, Twitter and other sources lit up with the “news” – The Curmudgeon is putting that word in quotation marks because it so very clearly wasn’t news because those folks typing in their underwear while eating Mallomars don’t report news, they just fabricate it – that the North Carolina shooter was actually an actor hired by, get this, the mainstream media, to divert attention from what was going on in the pizza parlor.

Because apparently the mainstream media was in on, and supported, the Hillary Clinton pizza parlor child abuse ring. There was even this, which The Curmudgeon quotes directly from the New York Times because he’s read it six or seven times now and still isn’t entirely sure what it means and wants to let you interpret for yourself:

Conspiracy theorists have linked symbols that some local businesses on the same street as Comet Ping Pong used in their logos to symbols of pedophilia code.

And if that means what The Curmudgeon thinks it suggests, all he can say is “Really? Symbols of “pediphilia code’?”

One of the fabricators turns out to be a lawyer – yes, a lawyer – from Florida who posted a notice, posing as a fictitious member of Congress, warning that the debunking articles consisted of fake information put out by the mainstream media.

Why?

In the underwear-wearing, Mallomar-munching lawyer’s own words, as reported by the Times,

He said that he was frustrated with the way the mainstream media covered the election and that he believes that most of his 24,000 followers know that his account is a parody.

“Most” apparently didn’t include the guy who drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C. to check it out for himself and stormed into the pizza parlor in question with his AR-15 leading the way.

Oops.

Many of these people, it should be noted, also believe that the Sandy Hook, Connecticut mass murder of 2012 was a hoax. Apparently the lifeless bodies of 20 children didn’t impress them at all.

But this is how things seem to go these days. People really are sitting in their underwear and eating Mallomars at their computer keyboards – okay, maybe The Curmudgeon is a little behind the times and they’re doing it from their smartphones – making up rumors of their own, spreading the rumors of others, and simply rejecting factual information about the rumors others are circulating and insisting that they’re true and maintaining that someone – the authorities, the mainstream media, Barack Obama himself, or someone – is simply fabricating these factual denials of their fabrications.

The truth? It doesn’t matter anymore. There are facts and there are opinions, but when someone insists that their opinions constitute fact, what can you do? How can you respond other than to shake your head?

The Curmudgeon isn’t totally surprised. He’s seen even the mainstream media encourage people to draw opinions without any factual foundation. If a player on your favorite football team is injured, for example, a newspaper’s web site might ask readers to respond to the poll question “Do you think John Smith will play this Sunday?” and ask them to click on a “yes” or “no” link. The paper tells you the general nature of the injury but offers no authoritative information about the severity of poor John’s injury, usually because it has not been able to get any authoritative information from the team, so it asks readers for their opinion on whether Smith will play.

Based on…no information. The same newspapers that attempt to debunk myths and point out the inaccurate statements of candidates for public office are, at the same time, encouraging their readers to draw conclusions and offer opinions based on little more than their own imagination.

So is it any wonder that people fall for nonsense like Hillary Clinton’s child abuse ring at the pizza parlor?

 

 

 

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