Vice, a garbage source with zero value, babbled virtue-signalling dreck without doing their due diligence. Deadline was in denial of the obvious as was the BBC, while the Washington Post was just demented.
Vox, sophistry-filled propaganda bullshit puked by reality deniers, treated their readers with a patronizing tone with this piece of nincompoopity to “explain” to the little people how to think:
Mostly unnamed sources are driving rumors of a hoax. Smollett has since lawyered up.
Uh, no, pseudo-journalists. What the police are doing is a simple “drop and deny”: putting out tiny pieces to rattle the guilty and shake people down for more information, and then step back, gather more of the fallout, drop a new piece of information, and so on to circle a target. These are not “rumours” spun by your ideological enemies: this is a hunter-gatherer strategy used by people who understand reality. Grow up and stop using sophistry as a security blanket.
ABC knew their interview with him was suspicious, but said nothing when it aired. That is not responsible.
That’s pure bullshit. That someone from Vox and CNN pretended that it wasn’t mainstream press was the biggest knee-slapper of them all. I guess their mothers never had the lecture about honesty and owning up to your mistakes. People who were skeptical were shamed and accused of being conspiracy theorists by the mainstream press, while putting forth their own conspiracy theories.
But it is TMZ, the loser’s dumpster that got the ball rolling, just took it as a given that it was true.
Lots of people were suspicious, but they were all on the Right, and many — but not all — disbelieved it because of racist and homophobic assumptions. Because they weren’t under the spell of the left’s heroic bullshit stories, none of those feints or ruses worked on them.
Everyone in the press who ran with it uncritically were gullible twits who used zero logic, without thinking about the consequences of not using a wait and see approach, but that’s the consequence of never questioning your own ideological assumptions. You stagnate and then passively follow a script.
I disagree with the National Review’s ideation that this is some sort of “sickness”, however. What we are seeing is immature ideological nose-tweaking and slap fighting with two sides who want to be proven Forever Right and then not use their brain cells to think critically. We have always had fabulists and people who believed them. This isn’t some recent deification of “victim culture”: this is a good old-fashioned “pity scam” used to make the virtue-signallers feel superior to both the “victim” who plays them, and their ideological rivals who look mean and heartless.
I held back writing on this case for a reason (wanting to do this in the spirit of my 2005 book, meaning doing it all at once), but I was slowly taking things in, and wanted to write something more comprehensive on the matter.
But, just to be clear — Newsguard is pure garbage and propagandistic bullshit that did not take this story as “fake news”, but I am now officially tagging NewsGuard as “fake fake news check.” Microsoft, go fuck yourselves.
You didn’t need NewsGuard. You have Alexandra Kitty Guard in the book I wrote in 2005 called Don’t Believe It!: How lies become news.
If you don’t want to be taken in by hoaxes, read that book. Buy it, borrow it, steal it, but read it because I spent years researching cases as I worked as a journalist so I would know precisely where, why, and how journalists get things wrong.
That is your bible if you want to know how lies become news.
And in the Smollett case, the chapter you want read is Chapter Nine: Fear, Stereotype, and Myth.
That will show you everything you need to know in order to determine if someone is lying or telling the truth about claims of inter-group attacks.
The first piece of advice I give to people is to question every one of their own assumptions. Just because this is something you want to hear, it doesn’t make it so.
The second piece of advice is to remove all emotional triggers from the story. So, if it is a race-based attack, forget about the race of the participants. We have Person A and Person B. If it is a sex-based attack, forget about the sexes. We have Person A and Person B.
Sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, we wipe the slate clean, and there is a reason for this drastic measure: we are looking at the facts first. We will use logic, not emotions. We do not want our assumptions to push us in the wrong direction or make us take our stereotypes for granted.
Person A and Person B.
Only after you run through the accounts and the facts, do you go back and fill in the slots about identity, and then run the story again. You investigate layer by layer until you know the facts and the flow of those facts cold.
The more you run on identity politics, the more you have to do this because if someone is lying and is caught, your cause goes right down the toilet. The end. Your credibility is shot, and you have to work one hundred steps back, and no amount of temper tantrums or moral masturbation is going to hide the fact that you allowed a vector to pollute the information stream.
I saw a news alert on my smart phone, looked at the article, and knew from that very second that this was malarkey.
Let me count the ways.
Because just to be clear: this was a textbook case of a hoax. You really had to be very naive to have bought any of this at all even if it was rehearsed — and the fact the the press bought it hook, line, and sinker — even though my book has been out since 2005 shows you just how worthless the industry is as they have done nothing to school themselves in reality observing and truth finding.
So let’s go over every blaring sign that journalists missed.
The first thing to know is that very often, fake hate crimes are often snuck in during real hate crimes. Someone sees an opportunity, and then hopes no one will look too hard amid all the legitimate cases. It is an old ruse. And this is also not a good strategy. Police hold back details, and you cannot guess what went down — only the basics of what was reported, not the holdback information — and even then, reporters will embellish, use hyper-narrative, and just get facts wrong.
So to try to reconstruct any attack is going to stick out no matter what, even if you have insider knowledge because the auteurs of the real attacks with have their own imprint and motives that will not align with yours.
Now, when I wrote my book, I looked at countless cases, but because I did not want to commit the confirmation bias, I had to look at four kinds of stories: ones where someone was attacked, and the police believed them — and there are lots of those. Then I looked at fake attacks that the police believed at first and then didn’t when they found out it was a hoax. Not as many, but these were the cases that went into my book. Then there were the ones of a fake attack police didn’t believe — hard to come by, but I found some and looked at those. Then there were a few where a person was attacked, but the police didn’t originally believe them.
So I looked at them all, comparing and contrasting until I began to see patterns emerge.
Now, Smollett’s claim came right on the heels of the Covington Debacle — this was a “slip in” case. At the time, the journalistic narrative was very credulous and not well investigated. That narrative fell apart and journalists had to backtrack.
But the fact that the Smollett case came at this point in time was instructive to me — and the first checkmark in the “could go either way” column.
It didn’t mean by default that it was a hoax, but if you are a reporter covering something, this is a good time to use the word “alleged.”
Then there were other details that were also instructive. The neighbourhood wasn’t one where white Alpha MAGA men would frequent — but even if we want to be generous and say they came to this neighbourhood to commit a heinous act — they would have to case the place, find good spots to attack, pick a target, and do all sorts of other things that would bring attention to them. This isn’t to say this cannot happen because we have serial killers who are proficient in this kind of predatory behaviour, but even they get caught the moment they are out of their comfort zone.
That there weren’t witnesses or surveillance footage that backed up Smollett’s claim either means (A) these are proficient attackers who know what they are doing and have experience, or (B) it didn’t happen. You can still give the story the benefit of the doubt, but now you have to clarify and verify certain points of this narrative. You cannot just say it happened without nailing down certain specifics.
Then there was the nature of this alleged attack that really set off alarm bells. Smollett obviously doesn’t hang around white Alpha MAGA males, and his descriptions were a caricature of them. This description is what I would expect from someone who is ignorant of a certain group of people.
Susan Smith tried to pin her murdering her two children on an African-American male — but like Smollett, it was obvious that she just made bad guesses based on bigoted third-rate cop shows. Charles Stewart played the same gambit when he killed pregnant wife — his understanding of the African-American community was also cringeworthy.
But then there was Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald — a man who killed his wife and daughters, blaming it on drugged hippies, who allegedly said, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs” during the attack. He was another “slip in” fabulist as his crime happened six months after the Charlie Manson murders.
At this point, if you are a responsible journalist, you start looking at the holes because you are committed to the truth and acknowledge that there are holes, and if these were the only ones, you would have your work cut out for you.
But there were more problems with this story.
If you have a couple of Alpha racists/homophobes, and they ambush a single person, I seriously doubt Smollett could have walked himself to the hospital and be ambulatory with such superficial wounds. They are going to go for some serious damage. It reminded me of the Audrey Seiler hoax where she was allegedly abducted, but was in very good condition when she was found. Men who kidnap women are not going to be gentle with them.
The injuries didn’t make a lot of sense. If this was supposed to be a hate crime, it was a mild version of it — so why bother if the point is to express enraged hate? How nice of the haters to be certain that Smollett’s face would be camera ready. Really?
There were too many indicators that this was a hoax — and trying to recreate this scenario and act it out — was very unsatisfying in both cases. A cell by cell breakdown had too many inconsistencies. Acting it out was even more inconsistent.
This hoax is a very bad blow to many causes. If you don’t bother verifying claims, you have no business being in journalism.
And these days, reporters run on a single person’s say-so. You cannot do that under any circumstances.
People can lie, be mistaken, or confused. You cannot just assume someone was attacked unless you get corroborating evidence from multiple places. Often, you are working with probabilities, and if you gather enough information, sooner or later you know if the story is certain, probable, possible, or impossible. Smollett’s was impossible.
Within a single reading of one article, I thought either the writer of the article got every fact wrong, or Smollett was full of it. He had motive, means, and opportunity — and the reporter had an absolute obligation to find out by not committing a confirmation bias — even if you believe someone, you still have to look for refuting evidence. You do not have the luxury of not looking because that is how propagandists roll.
Do not blare out things without verifying them. You don’t need a smoking gun, but you do need to account for holes and inconsistencies no matter what.
People lie. It is shocking what people will fib about, and when I worked as a journalist, I found out that lies were more common than truths.
Restraint was absolutely necessary. Journalists like things happening in clusters, but so did the Pepsi tainted can hoax — and they all proved to be lies. Every single one.
That’s why you interview people — so you can find out things. You have to walk in that neighbourhood at all hours. You have to do a lot of peoplewatching — if you have neighbourhood busybodies — not only does that tell you that there would be people who would have seen what went down — but those are the people who mind everyone’s business and can tell you things that you do not know because you are not schooled in the ways of that region.
Journalists don’t do that anymore. They parachute in on occasion, but mostly they send emails to people or call them — that’s okay if you are interviewing an expert a half world away, but when it is a serious charge, you cannot afford to spew fake news because it is not just the hoaxer’s credibility on the line.
And Smollett’s post “attack” behaviour was not in line with what one would expect: giving limited cell phone data is not about “privacy”: it is about hiding information. Occam’s Razor: convoluted explanations are not true; the simplest explanations are most likely true.
Maybe he was philandering, being blackmailed, or calling a drug dealer — still, a red flag. The television interview didn’t say very much — such as what were Smollett’s conditions on giving the interview? Is this someone who is friendly?
It makes a huge difference.
There are sexists, racists, and homophobes celebrating right now. It is one thing to say you “believe the victim”, but it is no excuse for not verifying accounts to ensure the victim is a victim and not a deceiver exploiting the victim’s mask for personal benefit.
The 2018 Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were one huge blow to the left’s cause. It planted a dangerous seed and proved that #MeToo could be hijacked by a political party, and used as a propaganda tool. Then Covington came and showed just how skewed the Left’s narratives are — don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.
Smollett’s hoax is just as big and bad. You cannot be credulous, and hope for the best. You have to be a thousand times more diligent and responsible than the detractors, so that 100% of the cases you cite are absolutely real. You’re not having a pissing contest with mommy and daddy who love you: the stakes are real, and it is the difference between life and death. This is the reason why spoiled brats make shitty journalists.
I cannot stress enough how damaging this turn of events is. People who think they can explain it away or shout away criticism with insults or threats won’t get their way anymore. You cannot keep crying wolf because you start to sound like a liar, and then a loon.
And then you become a joke people dismiss.
But as much damage as Smollett made, it was nothing compared to the damage journalists made to their collapsed profession. They are fake news. The US President was right.
And worst of all, every day, there are victims of real hate crimes. Their trauma is real and lasts a lifetime. It may very well be the very last thought that runs through their minds before they die. They aren’t believed even by their own family, or their abusers get away with it.
These people not only never see justice, the press will completely ignore them. Their attack wasn’t “sexy” enough or over-the-top enough, and they are not TV stars, and no one ever knows about it.
And now they have this hoax to spit in their faces.
But because those who lie about any sort of attack use hyperbole in a bid to sound legitimate, the press is more likely going to believe the deceiver than a genuine victim.
I am very sorry Mr. Smollett, chose to do this desperate thing, but what is done is done.
Those who play with the fire of identity politics got seriously burned, and have a lot of brutal self-assessments to make. They won’t, of course, because the notion of being mistaken displeases them and their desire to be morally superior to everyone else forces them to stick to a stick not aligned with reality.
Journalists — and Newsguard — proved to be worthless propagandists yet again. When will you creeps grow up once already?
My book, on the other hand, showed all of this from the get-go, but I did the research for it, and made it something of value and utility.
Because truth matters to me. It defines me. I am grateful there is truth out there, and I never take that truth for granted. I love it, revere it, respect it, learn from it, and care for it with every grain of my being.
Too bad so many others treat truth with such contempt — but when the truth hits backs, it tears every lie in her mighty and beautiful wake.
The problem is that people have The One Rule That Explains Everything and stick to it like glue. You either have people always disbelieve an alleged victim, or always believe an alleged victim. They are always both hopelessly wrong.
Journalism isn’t about “believing” or “disbelieving.” That is a Middle Class indulgence that they cannot afford.
You don’t believe. You don’t disbelieve.
That’s what you do. You do not meddle like a bored soccer parent, telling people with experience that you lack how to conduct their affairs.
You do not take sides, either. This is not a sporting event. This is about finding facts.
What does investigating entail?
Finding both confirming and refuting evidence and then presenting both.
You look for which of the several possibilities is the most probable one.
So, there are four basic outcomes:
The events described are pretty much what transpired because the person is telling the truth and their perceptions were aligned with reality.
The events described did not exactly transpire the way recounted because while the person is being honest about their perceptions, their interpretations of reality were misaligned because they were deceived, confused, impaired, or in some way impeded.
The events described did not exactly transpire the way recounted because the one presenting information is spinning a narrative or keeping out information that would give the whole story because they are not as innocent or heroic as they are claiming because they are trying to manipulate your perceptions and interpretations of reality.
The events described did not transpire because the person is lying.
Every single story a journalist hears must go through that checklist. No exceptions. If it is true, the facts will prove it. That is how you uncover information that not even the person telling you what happened would be aware of because they are not privy to it. If there are discrepancies, there are three possible reasons for them, and you have to find out which one of the remaining three scenarios it is.
It is immoral not to run through that checklist — even if you are recounting your own story. You, as an information disseminator, have the duty and the obligation to ensure that what you are reporting is the truth.
If I was assigned the Smollett story, I would have run through the checklist, even if I had doubts. It is not up to me to make an assessment until I go through that list. There are times when you are convinced that someone is lying, and it turns out they aren’t lying. There are times you absolutely believe someone and it turns out that they could read you and hit you in your blind spot and deceive you.
When I research, my mantra is confirm, refute, repeat.
Many times, you find out about secret victims because they are behaving in a bad way that makes people dislike them, but the truth is that they are suffering in silence. Other times, someone squawks about being a victim, but they realized long ago that playing a victim allows them to get away with all sorts of things.
It is a crapshoot because there are times when the jerk is a predator and the squawker is telling the truth.
But just as journalists were being irresponsible; so were activists. If you parade someone who is lying even once, no one will believe you when you parade a legitimate victim. Don’t think that name-calling is some sort of deflection. The spell is broken, you lost credibility and moral high ground, and that’s that.
The left now have a hat trick of defeats to their own credibility. They cannot blame the right for any of them. For people concerned about equality, this is a time for some serious self-examination, and retraining on how to analyze information and not have a preset idea and then do no critical thinking because that’s not going to fly.
I knew Smollett was lying from the start. That’s because I have over a quarter century experience analyzing information. I remember when I was a teenager and falling for the babies and incubators hoax of the First Gulf War — it would be a harbinger for things to come, but I remember how I kicked myself for falling for such an obvious ruse that made zero sense. It was such a stupid lie that it is embarrassing to think that I was just that gullible.
I began to think critically after that, and the war in the former Yugoslavia made it personal for me, and I began to study propaganda in earnest.
And this is propaganda.
And, oh, before the next spineless journalistic revisionist spews lies about how the mainstream press wasn’t spreading this hoax with reckless abandon, here is some evidence that, yeah, you did…