Conservative Media Makes Up a Fake Florida Mansion for Nancy Pelosi
Plus, the anatomy of a viral lie.
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THE BULWARK Thanksgiving special podcast.
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New from me today: How fringe websites and their slightly more reputable cousins pushed a total lie about Nancy Pelosi buying a $25 million mansion in Florida.
Our old pals across the hall at the Washington Examiner love highlighting when the “MSM” “stealth edits” an article. Which is to say they edit it and don’t issue an update or correction. Turns out they have some stealth editing issues of their own.
The Big League Politics story was then picked up by Fox News contributor and “Investigative Reporter” Sara Carter’s site, though the story on Carter’s site carries the byline of “Staff Writer.”
As is usually the case, after these fringe outlets write vague, unsourced stories, slightly more respectable conservative sites aggregated them under the guise of “according to” various “reports” without noting how disreputable the sources of the reports are, or making any attempt to confirm them. These aggregations exist solely to farm clicks.
Thankfully, reporters from Realtor.com got to the bottom of what the right wing media couldn’t. Really, it should read wouldn’t, because that’s the point, isn’t it?
Marjorie Taylor Greene is calling the shots and owning Kevin McCarthy, while some Republican governors are paying people NOT to get vaccinated. Bonus content: Taylor v Jake. Tim Miller joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.
Meet the Texas Secessionist Movement: Brought to You by Russia. KRISTOFER HARRISON has the details.
Secession is one of the Kremlin’s “active measures” campaigns: Promote fringe wackos abroad and hope that, eventually, they break something. This may not sound like much of a plan, but it sometimes works. Putin has been openly building his portfolio of wackos for a while. And the wackos have begun breaking things.
The shiny ball that caught Cruz’s attention was The Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM). TNM is Texas’s most prominent secessionist organization. In 2015, TNM attended a St. Petersburg gathering of worldwide extremists organized by Rodina—that’s “Motherland” in Russian—the fascist-adjacent offshoot of Putin’s United Russia party.
That gathering was a safe space where the likes of German Neo-Nazis, the KKK, Greece’s Golden Dawn, and Roberto Fiore (the Italian terrorist responsible for a 1980 bombing in Bologna that killed 85), could gather and praise Putin’s defense of Western (read: “white”) culture. Here, featured on Rodina’s website, is Nate Smith, TNM’s executive director, in attendance. Howdy! Russia’s info warriors were very pleased with his comments at the event. This skulduggery got so bad and Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians who were working with the Texas secessionist movement in 2016 to—please put down your coffee—spread misinformation about Ted Cruz during the presidential primary in order to help Donald Trump.
There’s a nice symmetry there. Some day when when Hollywood comes calling the film can be titled, “From Victim to Dupe: The Ted Cruz Story.”
Lastly, another item I wrote about the GOP’s performative lawmaking about COVID-19. Up is down and left is right.
Given this situation, with Americans eager to get back to normal but hearing warnings of potential danger, you might think there would be a big bipartisan push underway to vaccinate as many eligible people among the 30 percent of Americans who have not had even one dose of a vaccine.
Instead, we’re seeing some Republicans lining up to oppose people setting vaccination guidelines for entry to their privately owned business. Republicans used to be in favor of business owners being free to run things how they wanted—the days of “let the Christian cake baker refuse gay folks” weren’t that long ago—but apparently not so much anymore.
In fact, some Republicans are trying to make being unvaccinated a protected class—on a legal footing with race, sex, religion, and other factors. Here’s how the Idaho Statesman described what’s going on in that state:
There have been two groups in recent decades who have presented their case for restrictions on employers to preserve workers’ rights at the Idaho Legislature.
The first is Idaho’s LGBT community, which has fought for Add the Words legislation that would protect sexual orientation and gender identity as existing employment law protects race, sex, religion and national origin.
The second is opponents of the COVID-19 vaccine, who have sought legislation to either out-and-out ban all employer vaccine mandates, or make vaccination status a protected class like race, or various other measures. That effort has been rewarded by the longest legislative session in Idaho history, and well over 30 bills and numerous hearings.
House Bill 412, a bill essentially identical to Add the Words, but for those who decline vaccines rather than those who are born LGBT, passed the House 47-22 on Tuesday.
Idaho is just one of more than a dozen states in which Republican lawmakers have debated the question of vaccine mandates. As one health policy analyst told Pew last week, in the understatement of the year, “It’s important to recognize that . . . a lot of it is performative.”
Happy post-Thanksgiving! I hope you had a good holiday. Don’t worry, we’re back in full force. After my ill-fated golfing experience, I spent the few days winding down. It’s good to get away. A few links for you:
How ocean shipping works (and why it’s broken)
Republicans are embracing things they previously would resist (protected classes, unemployment insurance) because they need to cater to their anti-vaxx base. It’s wild.
COVID and the data of death. Our friend Tom Firey has this conclusion: “I doubt the grim government death statistics for COVID are exaggerated; if anything, they’re optimistic.”
That’s it for me. We’ll see you tomorrow. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
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