Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham was in full condescension mode on a March 3 post:
When you proclaim yourself a fact-checking website, dedicated to helping people you believe are easily hornswoggled, that poor opinion of the audience can cause problems. Take satirical web sites. Do most readers understand the difference between jokey fake-news and real news?
Snopes.com followed other fact-checkers in warning about the Christian satire site Babylon Bee. But was anyone really going to buy this headline as real, Snopes? "CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication." [This included the whimsical washer illustration to the right.] They felt the urgent need to call this out as “FALSE.”
Their humor-deprived headline was “Did CNN Purchase an Industrial-Sized Washing Machine to Spin News? The news media organization reportedly invested in mechanical assistance to help their journalists and news anchors spin the news before publication.”
Nevertheless, David Mikkelson of Snopes reported he found people dumb enough to take this literally: “Although it should have been obvious that the Babylon Bee piece was just a spoof of the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media ‘bias’ and ‘fake news,’ some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally.”
Guess what happened next? Facebook uses Snopes as one of its fake-news flagging sites, so Babylon Bee's owner Adam Ford received a little note that an "independent fact checker" found "disputed" information in their humor. Facebook warned "Repeat offenders will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.”
Funny thing, though: Two weeks earlier, Graham was very humor-deprived in fact-checking a comedy game show:
Everyone knows when the liberal comedians are joking, they're just making up Fake News, right? Or does the audience suspect there's a lot of truth behind the humor? Fans of the weekend NPR news quiz Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! heard the notion that President Trump's new budget "slashed" spending on everything, including Medicare and Medicaid.
Spending on those enormous health programs is never "slashed" -- they grow by leaps and bounds, even if some spending formulas inside the program get adjusted, or the Republicans propose a lower trajectory of skyrocketing growth than Democrats -- which is not"cuts." Reporters (and comedians) never look at actual overall Medicare/Medicaid spending on a chart.
The moderate-to-liberal Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that under the Trump budget proposal, "Between 2018 and 2028, nominal Medicare spending would grow by 120 percent instead of 134 percent."
Throwing in TBS and T.J. Maxx is a way to suggest there's some serious fakery going on in this joke. But people might actually think this argument as a whole is true -- that Trump is wildly slashing the social programs to buy "guns and tanks."
But then, Graham is nothing if not humor-deprived, as painfully illustrated in a March 14 tirade against the Comedy Central "The Opposition" for mocking, yes, conservative humor for being humorless. Which seems to prove "The Opposition's" skit correct.