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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Another day, another Fox News hoax

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Yeah, it’s fake. A total fraud. As with the Meat Police story, it appears to have been invented by a conservative rag so desperate for outrage fuel they were willing to overlook a bit of creative fraud in their reporting. As with the Meat Police story, Fox News immediately latched on and started their own trademark frothing on the issue. Still fake, though.

The Washington Post‘s Salvador Rizzo takes this one on, and the newest new hoax appears to have been birthed when Long Beach, California, organized a book and toy drive for the up to 1,000 migrant children to be temporarily housed at an “emergency intake” center at the Long Beach Convention Center. The community responded, because at least in California people try not to be complete f–king monsters to detained migrant children. One, as in apparently o-n-e, of the books taken in during that toy drive was a copy of Harris’ 2019 children’s book, “Superheroes are Everywhere.”

The New York Post ran with a picture of that book propped up against a backpack, using it to claim that the books were being provided in “welcome kits” for new child arrivals. Fox News used the same picture and claimed the same thing. From there, Republican lackeys extrapolated that ah ha, no doubt the Biden team is forcing the government to buy untold thousands of these books to line vice presidential pockets, since that is exactly the sort of brazenly corrupt move Dear Leader Donald Trump did all the time, draining government and donor coffers via everything from golf cart rentals to Trump-branded bottled water purchases—and these same party nitwits eagerly defended each one of these scams as part of Dear Leader’s divine grifting rights.

But none of it happened. One book of unknown origin was donated in a community book drive. All the rest of the story, every last bit, was invented.

Just as the fabricated Meat Police story (and you are not going to be able to keep me from saying that phrase for some time, let me tell you) was conspicuously born from fascist projections of what sort of things they might do if given all-encompassing government powers, Children’s Bookgate has a few lessons of its own to teach us.

To the Trump allied, it seems perfectly within the bounds of reason that a nefarious non-Republican government might seek to impose strict new laws on how much meat you can shove in your grease-dribbling meat hole during any given year, because authoritarian Republicanism is all about imposing such laws. Myriad Republican laws demand mandatory medical procedures be done on women seeking abortion; even more set strict rules on what doctors and patients are allowed to discuss in any context where pregnancy is concerned. Corporate employers are given the legal rights to dictate medical choices of employees. It is a given that military force ought to be used to put down anti-violence protests. You may face jail time if you share water with a would-be voter waiting outside in the heat to vote. It was genuinely proposed that when the “wrong” party won during an American presidential election, the ballots be seized by military force and the military be dispatched to rerun new elections in the states with vote totals that Spray Tan Hitler objected to.

On Monday, Fox News white nationalist Tucker Carlson urged his viewers to challenge those wearing masks during the ongoing pandemic as “aggressors” and demand they remove them. He told conservatives to “call the police immediately” and “contact Child Protective Services” if they see a child wearing a mask in public.

So yes, to a crowd regularly proposing martial law while threatening to string up governors who restrict bar and restaurant seating capacities—a crowd encouraged to demand law enforcement response if Americans around them dare wear anti-pandemic masks—the idea that their enemies might similarly use the power of government to patrol their kitchens hardly seems far-fetched. Authoritarians are always quick to imagine what authoritarianism might be used for, if it is not harnessed instead to oppress citizens correctly.

Children’s Book Pandemonium, however, is a hoax of a different nature. Republican National Committee Head Ronna McDaniel, Republican pundits, and the Rupert Murdoch-owned hurricane of bullshit have a current strategic need to push such a story. It was just two weeks ago that a Washington Post exposé yet again revealed a new bulk-buying scam in which the National Republican Congressional Committee spent almost $400,000 in donor money on bulk purchases of Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s book, part of over $1 million on Republican bulk purchases that used donor money to drive books from Crenshaw and Sen. Ted Cruz up the ranks of top sellers lists—and, of course, funneling that donor money directly into Crenshaw and Cruz’s pockets via the resulting royalties. (In at least the Cruz case, it looks to be illegal.)

McDaniel’s Republican National Committee itself spent over $300,000 on bulk purchases of Uday Trump’s weird, weird attempt at a book, goosing its sales numbers in the same fashion.

What’s that, McDaniel now tweets? Somebody might be buying books in bulk for suspicious purposes?

Yeah, I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a much more brazen example of the Hey Quick Look Over There strategy of scandal-dodging. McDaniel is very concerned about this new hoax, which coincidentally was produced exactly when it would be most useful to deflect from a true bout of Republican crookedness of similar premise. It is in fact uncanny how many Republican-pushed news hoaxes seem to borrow directly from factual Republican scandals.

No, the gubbermint is not currently buying Vice Leader’s books to line political pockets. It is a hoax. During all the past times when something like that was happening, mind you, McDaniel, Fox News, the New York Post, and every Republican lawmaker were all bleating that it was perfectly reasonable grifting that Dear Leader, his entourage, and his hangers-on have every right to engage in. But this time it ain’t true.

After being fact-checked into humiliated oblivion, the New York Post has now removed the story. After scamming their audience with yet another day’s helping of fraudulent nonsense, Fox News walked back the lie—then immediately promoted it again, a tactic they have often used to both admit hoax and continue to stoke outrage based on the same hoax.

Tomorrow it will be something else. Sean Hannity hasn’t been heard from for a while: It’s probably his turn to pipe up with something. Perhaps he will claim that non-Republicans are threatening to call Child Protective Services when they see unmasked children; that does sound like the sort of thing that would frighten his audience terribly. Truly, are there no bounds to what fascism’s enemies will do when given free rein inside fascist imaginations?


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