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Home Base: Fake news cuts both ways

 

Zack Plair

Zack Plair

 

 

Zack Plair

 

 

Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Regardless of whether you support him, he's a White House resident presumably until at least Jan. 20, 2021. 

 

He won the Electoral College vote -- the system we have in place to elect a president. He lost the popular vote. People in metro areas overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. People in rural areas voted overwhelmingly for Trump. 

 

These are the facts -- whether you like them or not. 

 

My liberal friends and acquaintances wail and gnash their teeth. They call for impeachment, talk about how the Electoral College is archaic and invalid, and some of them fail to acknowledge they simply got whipped by the system that matters (Electoral College) on the day that mattered (Nov. 8, 2016) at the hands of more than 60 million American voters whose opinions also matter. 

 

But for some my conservative friends and acquaintances, especially those more active on social media, this win has simply not been good enough. They have to make themselves feel safe from the enemy (Democrats, apparently) by perpetuating falsehoods, fake news if you will, aimed at belittling those they fear. 

 

My favorite post lately is one supposedly crafted in the sewers of Breitbart News -- to the grates of which I'm certain red balloons are tied. The post claims Trump carried 3,084 counties in November and Clinton carried only 57. 

 

When I first saw it, I ignored it. When I saw it a fourth time in less than 24 hours, I looked it up. Thanks to Snopes, I quickly found the claim to be false. From there, I dug a little deeper. 

 

The actual county margin, though still heavily favoring Trump, was 2,623 to 489. Just in Mississippi -- a state Trump won overall by a near 2-to-1 margin -- Clinton carried 27 counties. That's almost half of what the post claims she carried nationwide. 

 

In some other southern states, she carried similar numbers.  

 

If your guy won, why deliberately distort the numbers? Moreover, why perpetuate a lie when the facts sufficiently work in your favor? 

 

Shakespeare might say these folks "doth protest too much, methinks." My father has always called this strategy "guilty-dogging," because "the one who barks the loudest typically has the most to hide." Remember, Trump supporters (not all of them, of course) tend to be the ones screaming "Fake News!" at everything with which they disagree or casts their candidate in a negative light. 

 

More than anything, these lies and distortions reveal insecurity -- a lack of courage of convictions -- rather than confidence. And though a few may see such information and look up the truth for themselves, when someone posts a lie -- any lie -- as fact, all it does is reinforce the ignorance of those who want it to be true. And it dumbs down our society, a dangerous thing for a democracy. 

 

Beyond that, however, if you are a Trump supporter willing to spread lies to your brethren about the massive size of the president's rally crowds or the dwindling numbers of his opposition, it really only weakens your cause. 

 

Just remember what happened when Clinton supporters vastly underestimated your numbers.

 

Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.

 

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