Always Check Your Sources


Recently, The Not Fake News reached out to Prof. James Naismith concerning what we believed to be deliberate misrepresentations of his work in alternative media. You may recall the story, or wish to revisit it; the short version is, they reported him as being anti-mask when in reality he’s strongly in favor.

We’ve spent some little time tracking down the origin of the deliberate lie, and were intrigued at the source.

The earliest version we could find was written by Paul Joseph Watson for InfoWars, who apparently cribbed it from a story by Astha Saxena run in The Express (without bothering to credit her). He then cut out any relevant details that didn’t fit his worldview, turning a badly quoted bit of pro-mask scientific support into anti-mask propaganda without even consulting the source. InfoWars then sold the story to dozens of other platforms, raking in the dough at the truth’s expense. The resulting Frankenstein’s monster of a stitched-together bodge job bears little relationship to the original statement by Dr. Naismith, which can be found here:

The difference between journalism and propaganda isn’t the spin or the bias; all journalists are biased (excepting me, of course; I’m the soul of impartiality, and a candidate for sainthood to boot – Editor). Even pure opinion pieces, if properly researched, count as journalism as long as the intention is to convey the truth. By comparison, propaganda exists to spread a message regardless of the actual facts, and often by contradicting them.

Here’s an example of propaganda:

Let’s say, hypothetically, that I have a pet theory about Robert Kennedy Jr. I do, as it happens; I privately believe he’s a psychotic monster out to deliberately mass murder elderly Republican voters in order to further his insane environmentalist vision. It’s not that far-fetched; traumatized by his father’s assassination at a vulnerable age, known for heroin use, and raised in an atmosphere of privilege and power, he fits the profile as well as anyone. His recent book is an attack on Dr. Fauci, linking in Bill Gates and a dozen other ultra-wealthy power brokers in a wholesale assault on vaccines. But we can’t forget that his earlier bestseller was an indictment of then-president George W. Bush and his so-called corporate cronies.

How did such a prominent past-the-fringe enviro-nutjob ever become the darling of the alt-Right? For what possible purpose could any of these people overlook his politics to embrace even a small part of his otherwise patently insane worldview? He opposes fossil fuels and Keystone, demonizes Clean Coal — that’s fair enough — but he also fights bitterly against every alternative: hydropower, wind farms, and nuclear; he’s only against, and never for — unless, that is, he stands to gain a massive chunk of taxpayer money for his advocacy. The portrait of the man emerges: A champion who doesn’t care what cause he serves, so long as it brings him fame, fortune, and book sales.

All of these things are true, by the way. They’re actual facts; there’s tons of sources. His anti-Vax stance rakes in the cash and generates followers. The one thing that has no evidence to support it is the contention that his stand against vaccines is a deliberate mass-murder plot rather than, for instance, an expression of the delusions of a heroin- and trauma-ridden mind.

The propaganda piece would be entitled:

Kennedy Scion Plots To Mass Murder Republicans Through Vaccine Propaganda

The news piece might instead have this headline:

How A Kennedy Built An Anti-Vaccine Juggernaut Amid COVID-19

This latter story was released by the AP earlier today, after his agent rather unjustly blasted AP for their nonexistent press blackout on his book. When approached by the AP, however, Kennedy refused to comment or agree to an interview.

The difference between a newsworthy counterpunch and a propaganda hit piece: AP researched their story and did it very well. Yes, they may have a bias, but it’s a very minor one, and it’s against his agent, not Kennedy himself. Me, I took a private, pet conspiracy theory that I was debating turning into a novel and stretched the truth to fit. That the truth didn’t resist all that hard isn’t the point; instead, it’s partly that I didn’t bother to consult Mr. Kennedy (which I don’t regret; why ask a nut for his opinion?) and mostly that I presented a wild allegation without any evidence at all.

Gee. If I keep this up, maybe someday I can publish on InfoWars.

If what you just read pisses you off, that’s not because it’s wrong. People are wrong every day and it doesn’t get to you. If you’re upset by this article, it’s because deep down you’re afraid it’s true.

No, The Not Fake News did not “get the memo” to “fall in line or else”; we’d find it hard to believe that anything else would be worse than this. We’re not shills of the public narrative; we don’t take marching orders from major media. We’re independent, and because we don’t get payoffs or even ad money, we’re poor but reliable.

You can send cash to PayPal in order to help support us, or you can buy us a coffee. Or not; your call. We don’t track who donates, so it’s guaranteed to not sway our opinions in the slightest.

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NOTE: Lead image is a promo shot of Robert Kennedy Jr., which Google assures me is in the public domain. The toothbrush mustache and lapel pin were added for humorous purposes, and to demonstrate the point: that propaganda has little to do with truth. Obviously, as a Kennedy, that should properly be a hammer and sickle, with Stalin ‘stache…

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