Last night MSNBC began one of their prime time newscasts with a long-winded piece about the conspiracy theories swirling around Operation Jade Helm. The intro including a clip (not a magazine) of President Obama making fun of anyone stupid enough to think the federal government was/is their enemy. MSNBC [eventually] made a connection between the Jade Helm conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump and his supporters: fake news!
The mainstream media’s condescending condemnation of “fake news” makes me laugh. Truth be told, the only difference between “fake news” and “real news” is the amount of factuality a report contains and how those facts/inventions are presented. In other words, facts are important, but spin matters. And there’s always spin. You might even say that the act of journalism — deciding what information to include and what to exclude — is spin.
As a gun blogger, I constantly come across so-called news reports that manipulate facts to further an anti-gun agenda. I consider these reports fake news. Here’s an example from texastribune.com headlined While people and drugs come north, guns pour south into Mexico.
The headline seems straightforward, let’s say factual enough. But the sub-head quickly removes that impression: Often overlooked in border security debates is the river of guns and ammunition that flows from the United States — especially Texas — into Mexico, arming cartels and smugglers. Then there are the opening paragraphs. . .
Walls, fences, boots on the ground and camera-equipped blimps — all have been pitched as ways to stop the illegal flow of people and drugs over the southern border into Texas and beyond.
But overlooked in the rush to secure the border, score political points and stymie the threat of spillover violence is the river of handguns, rifles, assault weapons and bullets of all shapes and sizes that continues to flow southward from the United States to Mexico, arming some of the very people officials say present the greatest threat to Americans.
From 2009 to 2014, more than 73,600 guns seized in Mexico were from the United States, according to a 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog over the federal government. More than 13,600 were confirmed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to have originated in Texas. But that figure could be higher — the report also states that because of factors like altered serial numbers on weapons and incomplete information on records, the states of origin could only be traced for about 45 percent of the U.S. total.
That continues a years-long trend of Texas as a major supplier of weapons used in crimes south of the Rio Grande, according to the ATF.
Ah yes, the ATF. That would be the same federal agency that enabled, indeed oversaw gun smuggling by and to cartel members from U.S. gun stores (stores that were officially instructed to STFU about it) in the criminal enterprise known as Operation Fast and Furious. To be fair, writer Julian Aguilar mentions F&F — in the story’s last paragraph.
As for the stat dump upon which this entire piece is based, it’s a classic case of incomplete information presented without proper context to make/hide a propaganda point. Again, it’s what I’d call fake news.
For example: the 73,600 guns cited are a subset of the total number of guns confiscated by the Mexican government. The subset does not include the tens of thousands of cartel firearms that began life as official U.S. exports (to Mexican police and the military). Or, for that matter, unofficial exports (see: F&F above).
By the same token, the Trib fails to mention the study’s admission that “the high number of firearms traced in 2009 reflects a single submission by the Mexican military to ATF for tracing of a backlog of thousands of firearms.” GIGO, as they say.
That’s without considering a simple question: how many of these confiscated firearms came from cartel members and how many came from Mexicans trying to protect themselves from cartel members? And the Mexican police. And the Mexican Army.
Suffice it to say, facts matter. But as the Talking Heads sang, facts all come with points of view. Regardless of the facts of a matter, some points of view are more credible than others. Reading this, how can one take The Trib seriously?
Illicit arms trafficking from Texas has for years contributed to the carnage in Mexico, where tens of thousands have died since a full-scale war between law enforcement and rival cartels began in 2005.
But convincing lawmakers to scale back gun rights in Texas because of the connection to violence in Mexico has been, so far, a non-starter in a state that has adopted “Come and Take It” as an unofficial motto.
This shiny piece of anti-gun agitprop — masquerading as journalism — implies that “scaling back” gun rights in Texas is the key to reducing the slaughter of innocents in Mexico. Which is a twisted version of the truth: expanding gun rights in Mexico is the key to scaling back the violence south of the border. As Albert Einstein pointed out “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Like the right to keep and bear arms.