When Trump and his loyal subjects talk about “fake news,” they really ought to consider some of their own who have been known for spreading rumors and outright lies. We’re not talking about the likes of Sean Hannity and Alex Jones, although they both certainly fit the definition of “fake news” an awful lot of the time. We’re also talking about sites like Got News, a right-wing site run by the troll known as Chuck C. Johnson (not to be confused with Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs). Snopes picked up a story on Got News about who is responsible for the California wildfires and found it so ridiculous they wrote an entire piece outlining the facts as we know them right now.
Johnson apparently wanted to get in on all the news surrounding the Wine Country wildfires that destroyed so much of Santa Rosa and other towns, so he decided to publish a story claiming that California officials suspected that the Mexican drug cartels were responsible. He cited “law enforcement authorities,” including “senior Department of Homeland Security officials – and key people within the legal marijuana business.” This must appear authoritative to other right-wing, fake news sites because The Gateway Pundit, Proud Patriots and Freedom Daily picked it up.
Of course, Johnson also had to put in the giant flashing neon “we are full of shit” sign that says, “You won’t hear this stuff from the lying mainstream media” twice – once in the middle and once at the bottom.
Then he proceeded to use the “lying mainstream media” as additional sources.
Johnson’s sources—beyond his likely-fake sources at both DHS and within California agencies—are stories from NBC and The New York Times that do say many marijuana crops were badly hit in addition to the vineyards in the region. The Got News story actually managed to get that right.
However, from there and with nothing to back this up, he ties it to the Mexican drug cartels because they would have a strong motive to destroy “competition” to drive prices back up and give them back control over the U.S.’s marijuana supply. Johnson’s motive for doing that is made pretty clear when he says:
“If Mexican drug lord involvement is confirmed, it will likely spark an international crisis between the United States and Mexico over the latter’s failure to rein in its criminal cartels.”
Yes, by all means, let’s make stuff up to smear Mexico. The truth is there’s far more evidence pointing to shoddy maintenance practices on the part of Pacific Gas & Electric. Sonoma County officials received several calls about downed and sparking power lines, and blown transformers, all of which occurred during a high-wind event in the area. The first reports of fires came in at about the same time. Furthermore, Johnson claims that wildfires in October are rare, while the truth is that October is one of the most common months for wildfires out there.
Snopes is currently calling the claim “unproven.” Granted, this isn’t as stupid as the time the entire world had to debunk Alex Jones’ batshit claim about a base on Mars making use of child slaves. But it’s pretty stupid.
Featured image via David McNew/Getty Images