This propaganda didn’t stand up … Since the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, the Washington Post fact-checkers have been busy and factual. I’ve spent a lot of time arguing that fact-checkers often use the opinion of so-called experts as fact. I’ve been hard on the industry. That’s why it is important to make note when they get things right, especially in regards to hot-button items. In the wake of the shooting Michael Bloomberg’s non-profit organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, falsely claimed that there had already been 18 school shootings in the first month and a half of 2018. That statistic, which was picked up by politicians and the media, is flatly wrong. The Post detailed why this is so. They deserve praise for getting this right.
Flashback to 2015 … In December 2015, in the wake of the San Bernardino jihadi attack, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said:
None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them.
At the time, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Rubio’s statement what is termed the rare “Geppetto Checkmark.” This means the comment was unassailably true. Kessler went through a list of recent shootings and found that many current gun laws had been broken or skirted.
A welcome development … Much has been made of the liberal slant of participants in Facebook’s fact-check program. That is why the news that The Daily Caller’s “Check Your Fact” fact-check site is a welcome addition. As The Daily Signal reports, this site is “one of only two conservative media organizations journalism’s Poynter Institute lists as reliable fact-checking publications of Facebook’s 46, the other being The Weekly Standard’s Fact Check.” The inclusion of this site is a welcome development and is a step in the right direction for both Poynter and Facebook.
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About that FBI notification … Conservatives, yours truly included, seized upon a report in BuzzFeed News about a YouTuber who alerted the FBI that a user named “Nikolas Cruz” left a disturbing comment on a video that stated, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” With the FBI’s seemingly frequent inability to stop “known wolf jihadis” this at first seemed like another in a long line of FBI mishaps.
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) tackled the issue today and offered an explanation – or maybe excuse – as to why the lead was not intensively followed up. The Journal said the FBI gets many such leads and absent concrete information as to place and time claims it would take significant resources to track them all down through the time-consuming step of obtaining warrants. This could be a policy area short of banning guns that could be explored.
While that may well be true, new information from the FBI this afternoon says that a tip was received by the FBI on January 5, 2018 when a person close to the suspected shooter alerted the FBI to disturbing facts about him. To which the FBI states, “protocols were not followed.” This is plainly disgusting. The FBI should stop looking for Russians around every corner, and start doing the basic work of protecting the American people.
Sick internet prank? … Yesterday news started to percolate that the suspected Florida high school shooter was a member of a white supremacist militia. There is now a thought that an internet prank may have tricked the media into believing the story. Authorities have said that they have found no ties between the militia and the shooter.
Must watch … John Stossel’s son Max made a video in 2016 that deserves a look. In the video, Stossel explains how one way to stem the tide of mass shootings is to “stop making murderers famous.” The video is less than four minutes and well worth your time to watch. Stossel’s point that the media has created a feedback loop that increases the likelihood of someone seeking fame to commit a heinous act has merit, and speaks to the cultural problems at stake.
Like many of you I’m still trying to work through what happened in Florida on Wednesday. While you may have noticed the attempts at humor I’ve previously used to get you to tell your friends about this email, I’m not feeling today. Here’s the link to the WTF MSM!? sign up page if you are so inclined. And as always you can email me at [email protected] with your thoughts.
Robert Eno is the editor of the WTF MSM!? newsletter and director of retention for Blaze Media.