Fallows’s Follies

by Patrick Brennan

Yesterday, James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic (and former editor of The Harvard Crimson!) happened upon a real scandal: Conservative-media leader Fox News was practically parodying itself. He posted the following image on his Atlantic blog:

He presented it by saying, “How much of this illustration, now zooming around the Internet, is actually “true”? I don’t know. But if you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy. . . . Could the Fox News screen capture at the bottom possibly be legit? Versus photoshopped? I guess anything is possible.” As James Taranto pointed out on Twitter, one could post or say anything, now matter how absurd or false, and say, “Is this real? It’s possible!”

One is reminded of Harry Reid’s claiming that someone had told him Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes in over a decade, but then qualified the unsourced accusation “Do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain.” I actually think there’s a little something in common here: Mitt Romney’s tax returns are indeed surprising and incomprehensible to the average person, and Fox News has been known to peddle some out-there theories, but that obviously hardly begins to justify the peddling of bizarre and clearly nonsensical lies about them by highly respected and established authorities on the left. Yet they do it because they find both Romney and Fox to be so deeply evil and untrustworthy that any accusation, no matter how ridiculous, is potentially believable, and they’re justified in peddling it without an ounce of concern for whether it’s true or not. I wouldn’t say this isn’t a temptation unique to the Left, but it is interesting, and a little bizarre, that rich people and sensationalist conservative media drive them to such delusions.

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