little green footballs

WaPo: The Life Cycle of a Right Wing Fake Outrage

Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 4:16:00 pm

Congratulations to PJ Media for unlocking a new achievement -- being officially noticed by the Washington Post as one of the originators of a crazed anti-Obama conspiracy theory: Reining in the Rumors About EPA 'Drones'.

It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial “drones” used to kill terrorists overseas.

This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.

It was never true. The EPA isn’t using drone aircraft — in the Midwest or anywhere else.

The hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in American politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood. This one seems to have been born less than three weeks ago, in tweets and blog posts that twisted the details of a real news story about EPA inspectors flying in small planes. ...

First a couple of Twitter users got it wrong. Then, at 2:51 p.m. June 1, the Web site pjmedia.com posted a blog item with the title, “EPA Using Spy Drones to Fly Over Midwestern Farms.” It provided a link to a http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/30/hill-lawmakers-from-nebraska-question-epa-aerial-livestock-surveillance/ on the Fox News Web site — which discussed the lawmakers’ letter but didn’t actually mention drones.

That same afternoon, the falsehood spread to television. On a Fox News Channel “ensemble opinion show” called “The Five,” Fox contributor Bob Beckel said,“They are drones, they are flying overhead.”