Occupy Democrats is the single biggest piece of garbage site on the internet. It’s red meat for dumb people, and people who share the things they post / write often don’t bother looking deeper at their stories. Why would they? They confirm everything they already believe!
Understand my problem isn’t with Occupy Democrats believing every word spat forth from the mouth of icons like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, or their complete lack of intellectual honesty when their side doesn’t adhere to their principles. I can live with all of that because any of these red-meat meme factory sites do that. Conservatives, for example, have sites like NewsMax and Worldnet Daily for similar red-meat. It’s their complete lack of self-awareness. It’s their smug talk about how much hatred everyone on “the other side” has while they preach nothing but love and then share nothing but hate. It’s the fact that they call every trite platitude “powerful” and everything they disagree with is a “hate-filled rant” or some similar thing.
It’s not that I expect them to be impartial, but I do expect some intellectual honesty.
This particular story I’m going to talk about is somewhat egregious because it was clearly obfuscated to support a meme that needs reinforcement right now: that Donald Trump’s election is causing a wave of hatred and intimidation. Let’s look at this story carefully.
I was chatting in the comments of a post of a friend of mine when I decided to do a little oppo research on the brain dead fool I was chatting with, and I saw he regularly shared stories from Occupy Democrats. I must be highly honed to detect bullshit, because this one jumped out at me as a case of conforming by omission; where something doesn’t fit the narrative so you just ignore the parts that don’t or leave them out entirely. Here’s the story, and I’m going to break it out in pro-tips so you too can detect the bullshit.
Pro Tip #1: If the headline is particularly rabid, it’s probably either a distortion or a lie.
This is OD’s number one mechanism, and on this one they did not disappoint.
Here’s the headline from their site and as their Facebook post repeated it.
Oof. That’s shitty behavior, no doubt, and man, the teacher should be fired immediately. No doubt about it. I’m with ya, OD. On this we agree.
But the headline… Notice they got the word Trump in. That’s not accidental. It’s bias by insertion, another mechanism used by sites like this regularly.
Pro Tip #2: Look for information that should be there, but isn’t.
One of the ways these sites shape your opinion on a story is to simply omit information. So we have a story here about a school. I want to know things.
- The teacher’s name.
- What grade the teacher teaches.
- Some information about the teacher.
- How we know the teacher is a Trump supporter.
So interestingly, let’s go through these point by point. The teacher’s name is not mentioned. The grade is not mentioned (the age is), there’s no information about the teacher, and there’s nothing in the piece on the local news affiliate they linked (warning: autoplay video, so please stop it and do not listen; not yet) tying him to Trump.
When I have four questions and none of them are answered, my spidey senses start tingling. Something is off. All of the four questions there seem relevant to the story, yet none of them are answered. That’s important.
From the story and the audio, which I’ll get to in a minute, we see that the teacher was actually fired. The district acted appropriately and shut the bastard down, but we don’t know anything about him. The district said they aren’t sharing, though.
LAUSD officials said they declined to comment on pending personnel matters. Reynaga and her husband said they met with school officials and were told the substitute teacher has been fired.
Well that’s that. The substitute teacher, who was not named and has not been connected in any way to Trump by the source that OD linked (aside from having ostensibly similar views) has been disciplined appropriately and the story is now over.
Well no. Because now is where we get into the next tip.
Pro Tip #3: If something is left out, it’s for a reason.
I know that sounds conspiratorial, so I should probably qualify it. When something is left out it’s for a reason, particularly if the detail changes the complexion of the story.
Looking at those two people, who is more likely to be a Trump supporter? You can be honest, because honesty is what wins the day here.
The average Trump supporter, in the imagery we associate with such things, is a white male. That’s fine, but it’s important to recognize that truly manipulative people make sure to take advantage of those in-built biases, and OD is no different. Now, properly prepared, you have to listen to the audio that was shared with the LAUSD (you can find it at the affiliate site).
Notice anything? How did that teacher sound? Did that sound like a white male to you? Because it sure didn’t to me. That sure is inconvenient, because another casual association is the one with “racism,” and we all know the general tone of that argument when it comes to white people who are racist versus black people who are racist. In fact, some people have made a career off pointing out how black people can’t even be racist at all (I offer up this fine young lady as a textbook example of such idiocy).
Pro Tip #4: When the piece your reading is thin on hard facts or analysis, it’s probably because the facts don’t coincide with the analysis.
This is another favorite trick of sites like Occupy Democrats. Let’s go through the piece they posted, and diagram it.
So it looks really good. They manipulated the headline, and inserted opinion as fact, but they got the “meat” correct, right?
I don’t give them that much credit. The tone of the piece is very different depending on “Would” vs “Should.” Yes, it’s a linguistic difference, but that still matters, particularly if we’re talking about writing. But even bigger than that, Trump never appears in the audio.
Go listen again. I’ll wait. Nowhere in the audio do you hear Trump’s name. That means the statements of “Trump would deport their parents” and “Trump should deport their parents” as a reference to something this teacher said are completely and utterly false. NBC doesn’t say it anywhere in their article, and the OD assumes it and inserts it as fact and then, in their most magnanimous of magnanimity, they then comment on this insertion as if it’s part of the story (see the last paragraph).
The only truth in this entire article comes from what was linked from NBC, copied from NBC, and briefly acknowledged by OD. Everything else is spin.
Incidentally, NBC engaged in its own version of this by analyzing Trump’s impact on immigration, inserting that into the end of the story, but without once showing one single line of what the teacher said that implies he’s a Trump supporter, and not just a racist.
Pro Tip #5: Find the story somewhere else, look for similar spin.
It’s not hard to find this story pretty much everywhere anti-Trump spin congregates, even though, again, there’s no proof this is anything other than a racist substitute teacher that said some horrible stuff to Hispanic kids. Seeing similar spin I clicked on one of my fine local papers, the New York Daily News, and saw this…
Trump supporting? Awesome! Maybe they know something NBC didn’t?
Nope. In fact the only mention of Trump in the entire article was this:
“I was scared, because how can a teacher tell us that? He’s just rubbing it in that Trump won. We already know that,” said a student whose father is undocumented. “I worry about my dad because I had a nightmare that he wasn’t with me anymore.”
I’ll ignore the temptation to comment on anything other than the fact that the only time Trump is factually mentioned in this entire article is this line. Every other mention is the NY Daily News doing what OD does: inserting opinion as fact.
The NY Daily News essentially cites the only facts that we know, which we know from NBC and OD. They also leave the interesting bit out; the race of the teacher. But you can’t hang your hat on a hook of “white people are going to rampage because their racist leader got elected” if one of those people rampaging are black.
Also interesting is that this would be a good time to interject the racial problems between blacks and Hispanics in LA, which is actually a real problem, but that gets no mention (even though it’s true, and historically verifiable) because the shock headline and Trump attack is a much more red-meat type headline.
So that’s what they go with.
Pro Tip #6: Use what you learn to know whether or not the outlet is trustworthy, and set your expectations accordingly.
Two of the sites I visit regularly are Infowars and Drudge Report. I know the slant by which they post things. It doesn’t mean they’re always wrong, but I never post anything I read there without verifying it for myself. Why? Because I don’t believe in sharing un-vetted stuff if I can easily verify its veracity.
The same goes for the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which were 100% in the tank for Hillary Clinton and 100% got the outcome of the election wrong and the reason for that outcome wrong.
The point here is that if you share stuff without vetting it or putting it through some kind of veracity test, you’re at fault for spreading misinformation. That this story made its way around as quickly as it did was based solely on confirmation bias. Donald Trump is gonna do this, this thing happened, therefore Donald Trump is responsible.
Donald Trump is racist, this guy is a racist, therefore he supports Donald Trump.
Are you starting to see how this worked?
Think for yourself is cliche, but it’s also something we need to do more. We’re being bombarded with bullshit from the minute we open our eyes to the minute we closed them. We just watched 2 years of election coverage that was supposed to culminate in the crowning of Queen Hillary end up with one of the most shocking upsets in election history, but it was only shocking if you followed narratives. If you looked at the data and listened to the actual people who didn’t have a vested interest, the world was very different.
In that video, Bruce Mitchell tells everyone how this election was going to go down, but he also does us a great service and explains not only why, but why the information we were getting was bullshit.
He was perfectly right.
How did he get it right when everyone else was getting it wrong, or spectacularly wrong?
Simple. He didn’t trust his sources.
If you get nothing else out of this piece, learn this much at least;
If Occupy Democrats had run the headline “Black Substitute Teacher Tells Hispanic Children Their Families Could Be Deported” would that have made you angry? Probably not. Would it have confirmed your anti-Trump biases? Nope. Would you have shared it? Nope.
And that’s exactly what we have to fight against. Distortions of the truth that turn one story into another.