Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unarmed and Dangerous

The reach of the lie about Michele Bachmann engaging irresponsible rhetoric with her "armed and dangerous" comment is farther than I could have ever imagined. A Google News search on the phrase and her name yields thousands of references from newspapers, magazines, and websites located in every corner of the country and around the world. Nearly all of them unquestioningly passing along the botched, out-of-context, false characterization, rather than the truth. (Exceptions to this include the accuracy policing done by big hitters like James Taranto and John Steele Gordon).

The extent of this damaging misinformation is astonishing, it is appalling, and it is a sobering reminder of the quality of the fact checking being practiced by mainstream media outlets.

It is amusing to note how the original mischaracterization of "armed and dangerous" is now even morphing into worse mischaracterizations. Take this, from KARE-TV in the Twin Cities:

Rep. Michele Bachmann, in a radio interview, said Minnesotans needed to be "armed and dangerous" when it comes to resisting health care reforms and other federal government encroachments.

Uh, no. Besides the context gutting of the fact she was talking about arming with information, the "armed and dangerous" comment dealt exclusively with cap and trade legislation NOT health care reforms. The Woodwards and Bernsteins at KARE-TV can't even be trusted to read and regurgitate lies accurately.

This is not the first example of a lie becoming cemented in the public narrative. One example was the mischaracterization of George Bush's comments after 9/11 that "you're either with us or with the terrorists". Drama queen liberals around the country have been using this for years as an example of heinous patriotism questioning and their own oppression. Of course, when adding context, the statement is entirely innocuous, as I demonstrated in this post from 2008.

The Bachmann imbroglio also reminds me of the Plastic Turkey explosion of a few years ago. The story was that George Bush, in a brazen act of posturing and photo-op manipulation, pretended to serve turkey to our troops while he was in Iraq, but instead it was only a plastic turkey utilized for show. That story is false, but it didn't prevent it from becoming common knowledge among liberal partisans. The great Tim Blair compiled these citations and has them all listed here in his Turkey Roll.

For 1,001 days—or 1,000, depending on your timezone—George W. Bush’s plastic turkey has ruled the global mediascape, from the Guardian to Pravda and the ABC, from the Sydney Morning Herald to the New York Times. This mighty bird, feasting on rich crops of gullibility and ignorance, may outlive the Bush administration. For as long as there are those who believe, the plastic turkey will remain forever real!

I'm honored to note that his first example, from then foul-mouth comedic radio host now US Senator Al Franken, was submitted to him by yours truly.

I suspect that this falsehood about Bachmann will become a chronic part of the criticisms leveled against her for as long as she's in office. So there's no better time than now to introduce our own Turkey Roll. Or as I'll call them, the Unarmed and Dangerous. (A reference to the fact that Michele Bachmann wanted people armed with facts, the absence of which is ironically the source of the mischaracterizations).

The first ballot inductees were mentioned in the post from Tuesday: Paul Krugman, Bill Maher, and Joe Scarborough.

Now, two more highly prominent individuals have qualified themselves in the past few days.

First, the distinguished representative from Minnesota's 5th district (yes, Chad the Elder's Congressman), Rep. Keith Ellison:

Ellison notes that back in early 2009, his colleague, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., called for Minnesotans to be "armed and dangerous" in response to President Barack Obama's energy plans.

Ellison said that kind of gun imagery doesn't belong in the political discourse. "The political rhetoric has grown increasingly toxic, and making allusions (to) guns and reloading, and armed and dangerous, certainly contributes to a toxic political environment, and does have consequences," Ellison said.

Second, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, the Reverend Peg Chemberlin:

For instance, the language of violent threat needs to be dropped from American political life. When Michelle Bachman says that we all need to be 'armed and ready' we need to tell her that won’t do.

Reverend Chemberlin also gets the special KARE-TV accuracy insignia on her award plaque for her inability to get the lie straight. The violent threat lie is based on her saying "armed and dangerous" not "armed and ready".

If anyone sees any other prominent individuals deserving this recognition, send me the links. No rush, I have a feeling the doors to this sideshow will be open for years.