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Tilting at Windmills

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October 26, 2009

TROUBLE RECOGNIZING SATIRE.... Conservative activist Hugh Hewitt published an item over the weekend from Lee Habeeb, which I'm fairly certain was intended to be a joke. The piece ran on Saturday, Oct. 24, and pointed to an event that "occurred" on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (via Karen Tumulty)

More bad news for Fox News ..... sort of.

Oct. 28, 2009 12:43 PM. This just in from Speaker of the House Pelosi. In an interview with MSNBC's Keith Olberman [sic] last night, Nancy Pelosi announced that she would move to bring a vote to the floor of The House of Representatives as early as next week to ban Fox from covering Congress. "That Fox regularly grants access to Republican Congressman to spread their lies and propaganda on their airwaves is a violation of the public trust, and their continued desire to challenge such well documented facts as Global Warming, and the efficacy of single payer health insurance, proves that they are simply doing the work of the special interests. They should thus be stripped of their journalistic access in the halls of Congress," argued Pelosi.

As Tumulty noted, the first clue that an item might be satire is "when it mentions dates that are in the future."

And yet, you might be surprised at the number of blogs that ran with this as a legitimate story. Then again, if you're familiar with far-right blogs, maybe you wouldn't be surprised.

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of Michael Ledeen and Rush Limbaugh falling for a satirical blog post claiming to show portions of a college thesis Barack Obama didn't write. Both eventually backpedalled when they realized they'd fallen for a joke.

Add "difficulty recognizing satire" to the list of conservative troubles.

Update: Jamison Foser reports that Glenn Beck fell for it, too.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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This just proves Fox is the only legitimate news organization -- no one else can report the future!

Posted by: Go, Sestak! on October 26, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

You don't have to listen to conservatives for very long before you realize that they suffer from irony-poor blood.

Posted by: SteveT on October 26, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there was that study from a couple of months ago that showed a substantial proportion of conservatives didn't "get" that Stephen Colbert was mocking them -- as in, "they're not laughing with you. . . ."

I really do think that, as a whole, far-right conservatives are lacking something psychologically/emotionally that permits them to see any perspective but their own -- the result being a complete lack of empathy, understanding, imagination or recognition that any person might legitimately have an opposing or different view of the same event or circumstance.

Posted by: Snarky Bastard on October 26, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, add "satire" to the list of words REPUGS need to look up and then think about (that should make heads explode)...along with PROJECTION which they don't get for sure...and while they are add it how about TRUTH, HONESTY, FREEDOM, CONSTITUTION (like read it)! I love it when I find some wingnut using some of these words with no obvious understanding of what they mean or how they misrepresent their own actions. It would be humorous were it not so serious. Reading comments from a south Floriduh newspaper article on Obama's planned visit tomorrow...see the number encouraging folks to attend ARMED (utilizing the brilliant concealed law in FLORIDUH)...forgetting to remind their supporters to clean their sheets before attending.

Posted by: Dancer on October 26, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

...and yet when wingnuts are caught in some particularly egregious outburst of racism, the inevitable defense is "I was just joking -- geez, can't you libtards lighten up and recognize humor?"

Posted by: wilson46201 on October 26, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

well that's easy- they aren't exactly forward thinking people.

Posted by: johnnymags on October 26, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Nuance and understanding aren't exactly the majority of Cons forte.

Besides, it's not like The Onion doesn't have its moments.

Posted by: Former Dan on October 26, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

In fairness, when I was a weekly newspaper editor we ran an April Fool's edition about a wreck of building being "renovated" as a new major government building. Keep in mind, there was about five feet (as in 12 inches per) of water in the basement, about 50 percent of the windows hattered and large portions of the 2nd & 3rd floor structures lying in piles on the 1st floor. And we still got a realtor yelling at my phone receptionist on how this was happening. "Why wasn't I notified about this sale?" he screamed literally.
I took the call, walked him through the whole joke part of the issue, pointing out all the absurd items printed and explaining the jokes. He could only grouse, I am hoping in total embarrassment. I told him he owed my receptionist a HUGE apology, preferably with roses.

My point being people are stupid. They will read what they want to read and hear what they want to hear, no matter how illogical, irrational or idiotic. I am sure the fascistervatives will just grab anything they can to "prove" their point. They seem to enjoy jumping conclusions.

Posted by: Darsan 54 on October 26, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

In some defense of Hewitt, the piece from Lee Habeeb is horribly sophomoric satire. Then again, most satire is. Masters of the form, like Stephen Colbert, are rare, and others should exercise great care when using it.

Posted by: Brock on October 26, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Dancer. That use of specific words in all caps really drives home your point and makes it much more clear what you're trying to say.

Posted by: JustMe on October 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

I anxiously await my email box filling of with forwarded messages about Nancy Pelosi, Fox and the death of the First Amendment;>

Posted by: martin on October 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Brock. That wasn't any where near over the top enough to be easily tagged as satire. It certainly seems within the realm of plausibility for me because I hate Fox news. It's plausibile for conservatives because they hate Nany Pelosi.

Posted by: inkadu on October 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

And yet, you might be surprised at the number of blogs that ran with this as a legitimate story. Then again, if you're familiar with far-right blogs, maybe you wouldn't be surprised.

Well, as we now know from the Democracy Corps poll, they really do live in an alternative reality.

I'll bet they all get really upset with Steve Almond's satirical "expose" of Lynn Vincent's diary of meeting and working with Sarah Palin. The scary thing there is, it didn't take hardly any effort to do, since all he had to do was use Palin's real thoughts on religion.

Posted by: TCinLA on October 26, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Martin --

I'm already getting them...

Posted by: mars on October 26, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

But Steve, as you said earlier: Rush and Ledeen didn't really backpeddle in any legitimate way. They duh-bulled down with the flabby, post-modern spin that it didn't matter since that's what Obama must have been thinking anyway, etc. Let's see similar trash talk about this.

BTW, beward of how Villagers are ragging on Obamastration for rightly bashing on Faux Noise, with e.g. George Will and Laura Ingraham (! - not a real journalist/commentator; just the sort we mean when thinking of the Fauxes) attacking, comparison to "honorable" moderate JFK etc. The MSM are defending their fellow corporate media outlet even rotten as it is.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on October 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Habeeb? HABEEB?!!"


Posted by: Jimmy on October 26, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Probably also worth noting that small-c conservatives (across all political structures and periods) are, by definition, more-or-less bound to existing structures of authority. By their nature, they defer to, or even deify, established authority. (See also: unitary executive, Ronaldus Magnus.)

Humor generally, and satire in particular, is often subversive and mocking of authority. In that, it is an alien and utterly foreign way of thinking. They're simply hard-wired not to get satire.

Posted by: Snarky Bastard on October 26, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, conservative bloggers and radio hosts don't get it and they run with satire as real news.

How much of their audience believed them? How much does debunking by the rest of the media actually cement in their minds the only Rush and Beck are telling them the truth and that the rest of the media is liberal and lying?

Ultimately, I'm not sure it matters. These guys deal in nothing but lies. By picking up satire and reporting it as if it were real, well, they've just outsourced half their job.

Posted by: doubtful on October 26, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

To their credit, when you are as far gone from reality as these people are, satire is really hard to spot. i mean, if you are seriously considering birth certificate conspiracies, internment camps for conservatives, and death panels as legitimate issues, is banning Fox from reporting on Congress or Obama writing in his thesis there is no economic liberty in the Constitution really that less likely? When see the world (at least when it's run by people with "D"'s after their name) as basically 1984 and Kafka mixed incoherently together with rodeo clown Glen Beck, what could possibly be written that would be obvious to that person as exaggeration for the purposes of ridicule? (besides the left isn't evil)?

It isn't that the right fails to recognize satire, it's that there is no way to satire modern conservative thought. And for those who say it is plausible, so it's bad satire - the problem that it is plausible to some people is not a fault in the piece, but in those people. The premise that the Congress is going to ban a press organization from covering it should, at first blush, be thought by a reasonable person to be a joke. it would be such a ridiculous violation of the First Amendment, no one should think it true upon first reading it. Yet, these are the days in which we live...

Posted by: nerpzilla on October 26, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

So apparently satire, like reality, has a liberal bias...

Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on October 26, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

-if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. . .

These 'people' are so rabidly anxious to find fault with Obama, that ANYTHING that even looks bad they will pick up and run with.

And it's quite amusing to watch them, here on the sanity sidelines. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 26, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dateline - Washington, D.C. - May 1, 2010

The White House today announced plans to celebrate the Cinco De Mayo holiday this year by erecting a step pyramid on the site of Washington Monument, which will be demolished as part of the plan. The celebration with culminate in the ritual sacrifice of Conservative leaders at the top of the proposed pyramid in honor of "Great Quetzalcoatl, Baron Samedi, and , of course, Allah" according to a spokesman for President Barrack Hussein Obama. The first proposed sacrifice will be Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, followed by Fox News Channel personality Glenn Beck, and former pageant contestant Sarah Palin. Limbaugh was chosen as the inaugural sacrifice, according to the spokesman, because "his dark, bloated heart will make a fine morsel for our winged Aztec overlord".

Posted by: Singularity on October 26, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Reading the whole piece of satire from Lee Habib (who I surmise is a rightie producer who used to work for Laura Ingraham), the gist seems to be: The more Obama tries to bring Fox news down, the stronger and more powerful it will become. Obama as Darth Vader, Fox News as Obi-Wan: "If you strike me down..." shpiel. That kinda thing. Habib goes on to make other headlines-from-the-future, ending on 1/2/10, when Fox News averages 20 million viewers. It's quite powerful, if by powerful, you mean "dumb."

And as proof that perhaps Habib is wishful-thinking in a "hit me with your car, I need the money" kinda way, Fox News' ratings seem to be slipping. Just a touch, but still, when THE FIRST FREAKIN' AMENDMENT IS UNDER ATTACK FROM THOSE MOOSLIMLOVIN TERRORISTHUMPERS IN OABAMACO,* you'd think the nation would be flocking to see what other horse hockey the Fox News goons are spewing


*From my one-man show "KEEEN'T GIT NO JAHB CUZ OF OHBAHMA. Used with permission of me.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 26, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

In all fairness and humility, let's not forget that a lot of leftists have been credulously quoting a bogus remark attributed to Rush Limbaugh about the benefits of slavery, and another about the assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King. And the common defense when people are called on it is, "But it sounds so much like something he WOULD say!" That's a poor excuse. In Rush's case, there are more than enough authentic and verifiable racist remarks on record that we don't need to cite the phony ones to make the point. So let' all be more careful about fact-checking something we heard through e-mail or on an uncorroborated blog.

Posted by: T-Rex on October 26, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

bravo singularity!

...and finally, we're gonna git whitey!

Posted by: neill on October 26, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

In the blog thread http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread513806/pg1, we find evidence of the OP having changed the date in the quote from Oct. 28 to Oct 23. A commenter there writes [BTW I don't know what books commenter refers to, anyone?]:

I had to make another post in this ridiculous thread to point something out- The OP's "quote" of the story has the date changed from the (future) date of October 28th, to October 23rd.
Here's where things get interesting. In OP's source, the date is not given. In the original source, it is given as the 28th. So, I am assuming OP noticed the date was set for the future, realized the story was fictional, and decided to edit the date and post the story as fact, regardless.

What's the deal, djvexd?

This is negligent at best, and purposefully misleading at worst. You should be ashamed of yourself for posting what you clearly knew was a hoax, in what I can only assume is an underhanded attempt to gain stars/flags/recognition or start ANOTHER pointless left-right war. (Yes, I am aware this is the correct board for those threads).

This sort of thing brings ATS down, and shows first hand what sort of steps people like you will take to spread divisive misinformation. Everyone should take a page out of Projectvxn and Elostone's books, here.

Posted by: N E I L B on October 26, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bernard wrote:

So apparently satire, like reality, has a liberal bias...

All satire (political or otherwise) is grounded in reality, or at least some person's conception of it. The hallmark of good satire, for my money, is that it's only slightly more ridiculous than the truth.

First time I saw Reno 911 I watched for ten minutes before I realized it wasn't another Cops wanna-be.

Posted by: Snarky Bastard on October 26, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

T-Rex, anyone: we can go to snopes and other urban legend sites, but is there a best and most authoritative site for checking quotes from commentators? And anyone know, who was right about Rush's challenged quotes regarding the story on the attempted purchase of a football team? BTW I'm the same as above and not puppeting, just playing my name around mostly to "punish" the inactive RPI button.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on October 26, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind also, the righties idea of cutting satire is Obama The Magic Negro.

I heard Rush play it again a couple of weeks ago, followed by his point by point explanation of why it is such brilliant satire.

Posted by: martin on October 26, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Not to rain on the parade, but it's pretty obvious the Hewitt did get the joke.

He reposted the entire townhall entry, complete with references to the Thanksgiving Turkey pardon, FOX being banned from the internet and ending with the FOX network becoming more popular than all the cable and national networks combined (January 2010).

Most of the comments on the townhall site also demonstrate it's readers knew it was a joke.

Posted by: Jinchi on October 26, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

So, how soon do you think that we'll get them to fall for "Hey, your shoe's untied!"

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on October 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I read the 'postings' from the future and they
struck me as serious (for the far right paranoid wing) extrapolations, in the same style as the Turner Diaries. I.e. this could really happen people!

No less believeable than internment camps for conservatives.

In spite of the apparent disconnection of many on the far right wing to reality, once I have answered an email that is clearly absurd by saying so, no more right wing paranoid emails appear from that correspondent. Maybe my rightwing friends are smarter than the average?

Posted by: catclub on October 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Technically if we can get the right wingers to pick up on obvious bullshit twice a week or so we can actually control the news cycle. Hmm...

Posted by: Pat on October 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

At last, a strategy to defuse their endless hissy fits over supposed anecdotes that prove their point. Give them three or four a day until their dramatic paranoia becomes obvious to all that see. How about the DOJ is preparing a grand jury to indict Fox for broadcasting hate speech?

Posted by: Tom in Ma on October 26, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tom in MA:
The DOJ and grand juries is too sensible.
How about EPA or Education? That would string them along better.

Posted by: catclub on October 26, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

In all fairness and humility, let's not forget that a lot of leftists have been credulously quoting a bogus remark attributed to Rush Limbaugh about the benefits of slavery, and another about the assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King. And the common defense when people are called on it is, "But it sounds so much like something he WOULD say!" That's a poor excuse.

The problem is, that Rush actually used this EXACT argument with regards to this one. And this is not more than two weeks after he went ape shit over people attributing false quotes to him. Who the hell does he think he is?

So until Rush actually admits he believed the quotes ONLY because he wanted to, I will say that it's a good thing Rush is not going to buy the Rams because, while he might not have said one benefit to slavery was that the streets were safer at night, I know he thinks it.

Fuck him.

Posted by: Joshua on October 26, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Add "difficulty recognizing satire" to the list of conservative troubles."

ADD it? You mean it wasn't already there? Difficulties with Humor, satire, self-awareness and irony are all things that should be on everone's list of conservative troubles.

Posted by: Henk on October 26, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I do think that liberal bloggers are overdoing to sarcasm. Most posts these days seem to re-state con talking points. This is meant as satire, but a plain reading could often take it either way.

Suggest we stop doing that!! Back off the satire and sarcasm, please. It's lost on some people.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on October 26, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bushism-"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Posted by: Dave on October 26, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

AlphaLiberal: I think that this is a good trend that should be encouraged. Flooding the zone, so to speak, with bogus stories will force the Right to start applying standards of fact checking which would be to the benefit of everybody. Stories should be wingnut plausible, yet fairly easy to check. It only takes a few high profile egg-on-face incidents to keep them in line. Gullible people need to be trained not to be gullible.

Posted by: stand on October 26, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

@stand-I'm with you. There's only one way to educate these morons when pointing out consistently how they instantly foam at the mouth because "I read it on the Internet, so it must be true". Took me about a minute to disprove the thesis drivel at one of the wingnut blogs.

Posted by: Dave on October 26, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

...just playing my name around mostly to "punish" the inactive RPI button. -Neil B

And here I always thought you were trying to avoid coming up in a search engine.

Posted by: doubtful on October 26, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think they "fell for it", I think the exploited it.

Yes, they'll have to backpedal - but why not quote it as if it's real? Later, they will retract, quietly, discretely, but in the meantime, they get to throw some free red meat out to their audiences, boosting ratings and energizing their ideological base.

That may sound cynical, but they are far more cynical then they are stupid.

Posted by: Fides on October 26, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Let's hope nobody in the GOP reads Swift's "A Modest Proposal." They'll insist we invade Ireland.


Posted by: Zorro on October 26, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK



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