By David Futrelle
The last time I wrote about far-right fake-news site The Gateway Pundit, it was because one of the site’s writers couldn’t stop referring to the men in the famous Honduran refugee caravan as “virile.” Yesterday, the site was in the news for a rather different reason: for posting what it called “EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS” allegedly showing that a “very credible witness” was about to come forward and accuse Special Counsel Robert Mueller of rape.
Or maybe not. Over the course of the day yesterday, the story fell apart in such dramatic fashion that The Gateway Pundit — which has a long history of pushing dubious and sometimes outright false allegations — took their post and the “EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS” down, announcing that they would be “investigating these accusations” — something most publications would do before publishing dramatic accusations, not afterwards — as well as “looking into” the 20-year-old far-right trickster Jacob Wohl, apparently one of the masterminds behind the smears.
The collapse of the story was quite something to see. A professor at Vermont Law School came forward to say she had been offered money by someone claiming to represent a mysterious firm called Surefire Intelligence to make accusations against Mueller. Several journalists said another woman had told them a similar story.
The clearly misnamed Surefire Intelligence looks to be a phony company concocted by young Wohl out of thin air and stolen profile pictures; one of the company’s alleged contact numbers led to the voicemail box of his mother. Oh, and it turned out that Mueller had reported for jury duty in DC on the day the alleged rape allegedly took place in New York. The FBI is apparently investigating.
Evidently, Wohl and lobbyist Jack Burkman — a longtime pusher of right-wing conspiracies who was apparently Wohl’s co-conpirator in this laughable scheme — were so convinced that most #MeToo stories are fakes that they figured they could fake one themselves without breaking a sweat and get the credulous media to go along with it.
Nope. Turns out that real journalists — unlike the people behind The Gateway Pundit — actually investigate accusations thoroughly before reporting them. Contrary to what many right-wingers believe, there aren’t squads of feminists running around concocting false accusations against Republicans — mostly because that would be completely anathema to the most basic principles of feminism and female solidarity. But they also know that phony stories would get picked apart instantly.
It seems unlikely that many on the right will learn anything from The Gateway Pundit’s latest humiliation. And The Gateway Pundit clearly hasn’t, at least when it comes to making ludicrous accusations based on nothing.
Consider this lurid story they posted today — and no, it’s not a Halloween joke.
Putting aside the sheer shamelessness of accusing the Dems of “deceptive smears” a mere day after pushing the phony Mueller story, let’s consider the substance of this, er, allegation.
First off, it’s not based on any new news — or even new fake news. They didn’t uncover some secret Wicca ceremony amongst Congressional Dems, or photograph Nancy Pelosi in the ceremonial garb of a Satanic priestess. Nope. All their “proof” is old news. Also, it’s not proof.
Here’s the entirety of their alleged evidence of Democratic Satanism, much of which comes from the Podesta emails stolen by the Russians and released by Wikileaks:
- The Dem’s (alleged) “deception operations, manipulation tactics, and mob intimidation are … [a]ccording to biblical theology … the very same characteristics and tactics that are classically associated with Satan and his various cohorts.”
- Some dude who writes for the National Review calls the Dems the ““Satanic Left.”
- Dem insider John Podesta invited a bunch of his fellow Dems to a so-called “spirit cooking dinner” held by artist Marina Abramovic.
- Podesta’s wife once forwarded an email containing the word “Thelema” — a reference to occultist Aleister Crowley’s invented religion.
- Hillary Clinton’s former Chief of Staff once made a reference in an email to “sacrificing a chicken in the backyard to Moloch” which the story’s author doesn’t recognize as an obvious joke.
- Bill and Hillary Clinton once attended a Voodoo ceremony while visiting Haiti in the 1970s.
Pretty much gives you an idea of what sort of publication The Gateway Pundit is. Roughly as credible as the late, lamented Weekly World News, but much less entertaining.
The Gateway Pundit’s extreme, er, laxness about the evidence it requires before running with a story is predictably one-sided. Consider their vendetta against Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
Shortly after Ford came forward, the Gateway Pundit smeared her in a headline as an “Unhinged Liberal Professor who [sic] Former Students Describe as Dark, Mad, Scary and Troubled.” They later had to retract the “Dark, Mad, Scary and Troubled” portion of the headline, explaining that “an earlier post referenced Ford as an unpopular professor but we have since learned this was a different educator with the same name.” Oops!
The Gateway Pundit then went on to post numerous stories attempting to discredit Ford and her defenders, one of whom they referred to as a “far left nutcase.” While anything goes, it seems, when it comes to their enemies, they’re suddenly extremely skeptical of any and all evidence when it comes to accusations against people they support.
Pretty much the Trump Era in a nutshell.
UPDATE 11/1/18: Burkman and Wohl held their promised press conference today, without their alleged accuser showing up. It did not go well.
Then this happened:
H/T — I learned of The Gateway Pundit’s Satanic accusations from a tweet by The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, who was also one of the journalists who helped to unravel Wohl’s story.
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