CNN political analyst Joe Lockhart had a viral Tweet today. To many of the thousands who liked and retweeted him, the conversation he pretended to overhear from Senate Republicans at the impeachment trial represented their delusional hope. It was a scathing rebuke of the echo chamber the left often believes Republicans exist in to perpetuate their conservative worldview.
Overheard convo between two Republican Senators who only watch Fox News. "is this stuff real? I haven't heard any of this before. I thought it was all about a server. If half the stuff Schiff is saying is true, we're up shit's creek. Hope the White House has exculpatory evidence
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) January 22, 2020
The Tweet immediately took off as those cheering on the House Democrats today in the Senate read his post and believed it. Never mind that it was as far-fetched as a Monty Python storyline. They believed it because they wanted to believe it. They suspended disbelief willfully in hopes that their ultimate goal – the removal of President Trump from office – could actually be happening.
It was, of course, fake. Lockhart admitted it 9 minutes later, an eternity in Twitter time. At that point it had already triggered Twitter’s amplification algorithm and was being presented in tens of thousands of feeds. The original Tweet is currently at 5,000 retweets. The admission that it was fake is under 500.
Conservatives on Twitter reacted harshly.
Did I tell you the one about the CNN analyst who spread a false narrative, watched it go viral, then waited 10 minutes to admit he made it all up?
This is the bullshit that discredits news organizations.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) January 22, 2020
Of course Jennifer Rubin retweeted this. She's the Queen of Fake news.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) January 22, 2020
And then you tweeted you made this up.
Question: Why do you people get upset when we call you #FakeNews & you poll lower than Congress? It’s really weird when you question AMERICANS when we get upset about lies?
— SeldenGADawgs (@SeldenGADawgs) January 22, 2020
If you gave a crap that people took it seriously and had an ounce of integrity you’d delete it
— Sara Gonzales (@SaraGonzalesTX) January 22, 2020
Here’s the biggest problem with fake news like this. People will take him seriously. It’s a common tactic used almost exclusively by the left to make false, outrageous statements to get maximum exposure, then retract or correct them later, at which point the correction gets next to zero exposure. Lockhart took the “just kidding” route. It’s this type of despicable move that reinforces our contention that most mainstream media outlets really are just fake news. In fact, his false satire was called out by the undisputed kings of conservative satire, the Babylon Bee.
Leave the satire to us; we'll leave the fake news to you.
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) January 22, 2020
What Joe Lockhart did was a microcosm of how mainstream media operates today. Fake news is ugly in all of its forms, but Lockhart’s maneuver is exceptionally disgraceful. Nevertheless, he’ll feel no shame.