By: Philip | 10-06-2018 | News
Photo credit: Western Journal

Soros Strawman: How To Be Successful At Debunking The Truth Without Really Trying

I've never made any secret about my issues with dishonest "fact-checking." Last year in my article Fact Checking The Fact Checkers I did a deep dive into credibility issues related to Snopes and other "respected fact-checking authorities." One go-to strategy has always been the classic logical fallacy of attacking the straw man. In a recent "analysis" piece from Washington Post Bezo's news organization manages to make a claim of debunking Soros' funding of Kavanaugh protests in the headline while burying the lead hidden within the body of the text.

Does George Soros via his Open Societies Foundation and its affiliates and subsidiaries actually support the Kavanaugh protests through funding? The headline is frank and to the point: No, George Soros isn’t paying Kavanaugh protesters. Well seems cut and dried enough then, doesn't it? Case closed, I suppose.

Before we go into the issues with WaPo's strawman attack, I would like to bring up an April Fool's prank NPR pulled off back in 2014. The article was entitled Why Doesn't America Read Anymore? If you clicked on the article it implored readers to please not comment and see what happened. Thousands of shares, thousands of comments, exasperated, red-faced indignant NPR fans defending the fact that, unlike the rest of the world, they are still literate.

The headline image was of a pile of books, one commenter at least noticed that much: "That is a picture of BOOKS….. remember what those are? We are not talking about the ability to read text messages… or FB articles… It's abot [sic] ACTUALLY reading for pleasure and information.. People don't have the attention span or the patience to read." Well, apparently neither did the commenter because if she had bothered to click and read the paragraph she would have seen it was not "about books" (regardless of the red herring thumbnail picture) it was about how quick people are to share and comment on a headline because it "is what they agree with" without bothering to even check and see what the article says beyond those, so often leading or misleading, headlines.

A study from 2016 published covered in Forbes, Washington Post and elsewhere revealed the shocking, and disheartening, fact that 6 out of 10 American news consumers will read, share and comment on a headline without ever glancing at the story. The Post also noted how a satirical news site the Science Post released a headline about how 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before sharing. If they'd only clicked they'd see the body of the text was "lorem ipsum" etc. But that was the point after all.

Snopes and other fact checkers are able to utilize this fatal flaw in comprehension and literacy to their advantage. When ESPN removed Asian announcer Robert Lee from announcing an event shortly after the Charlottesville disaster at the Unite the Right rally, <a href="">Snopes was quick to debunk a claim</a>… that no one was really making.

They answered the question of whether “ESPN Fired Announcer Robert Lee Because His Name Sounds Like the Confederate General’s?" But that wasn't the issue people were questioning at all. It was absolutely true that the reason Lee didn't announce the game was solely the coincidence regarding his name, but people quick to believe that ESPN surely would have no party in such foolishness surely breathed a sigh of relief when they shared and commented on the headline of some text they likely didn't read.

Another recent example using the same tactic was Snopes' <a href="">debunking the claim that Amelia Earhart's remains had been found</a> after research from Dr. Richard Jantz was published at TIGHAR:

"Fact Check: FALSE

No one has claimed that Amelia Earhart’s remains have been located. Not Richard Jantz, not TIGHAR, not nobody. The bones have been lost, as the article eventually admits.

Mr. Kasprak responded:

The headline is a reflection of media coverage of your work, which — as most viral news does — oversold the findings. We do this commonly so that our headline reflects the questions people are asking Snopes, which in this case was “Have Amelia Earhart’s Bones been found?” The claim that we were debunking, found in the “claim” section, is this: “Bones found on the remote Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to famed aviator Amelia Earhart.”

To which I replied:

Fact-checking your explanation, I find it FALSE.

What media have oversold the findings? Despite lots of Googling I’m unable to find any media source who made the claim you say you are debunking. The headlines and articles I’ve seen all include qualifiers such as “likely,” “may,” “99% sure,” etc. I don’t doubt that some readers skip over the caveats. Correcting their mis-impression would be an appropriate topic for Snopes to address, but that’s not what you did. You wrote a personal opinion piece about the Nikumaroro hypothesis under the guise of fact-checking a strawman."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">That&#39;s what is called a Strawman fallacy tinged with an ad hom fallacy:<br><br>It&#39;s a little like throwing yourself on the ground like a five year old and having a hissy fit. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Robb Wexler (@Robb_Wexler) <a href="">September 30, 2018</a></blockquote>

<script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="">@MBFC_News</a> why does your &quot;Questionable&quot; database contain so many right wing groups? in your quest for neutrality you&#39;ve ignored many far left fake news sites - with these numbers, who can take you seriously? raw data: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Fredrick Brennan (@HW_BEAT_THAT) <a href="">December 22, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Yet another example of the unreliability of fact checkers was shared by relating to how PolitiFact called Mitt Romney's' 2012 campaign ad about Jeeps being made in China the "lie of the year." As Weekly Standard reported, they had to walk back their claim eventually conceding it was the "literal truth."

PolitiFact's explanation? "Our story focused on the clear message of the Romney campaign’s ad, that jobs in the United States were being moved to China, or perhaps that Jeep was moving its entire operations to China. That is not the case and has never been the case." So in other words, you were attacking the strawman again. Where is the Wizard of Oz when you need him!

There are numerous other examples of "respected fact-checking authorities" like Snopes and Politifact being caught manipulating the truth, reporting factual inaccuracies and, as we've mentioned here, muddying the water by debunking a straw man rather than addressing the "literal truth" of some unpopular or (apologies to Al Gore) "inconvenient truths."

Now, back to Kavanaugh and the Soros straw man. What people are wondering regarding whether or not Soros money is being funneled directly into an organized anti-Kavanaugh campaign has nothing to do with WaPo's headline.

WaPo refers to specific examples regarding whether the protesters are paid directly for participating. Senator Chuck Grassley admitted that he tends to believe Soros "uses his billions and billions of resources" to attack certain things in various countries around the globe. He's not alone there, even Prime Minister Netanyahu has been implicated in sharing "Soros conspiracy theories." But are the conspiracies just theories?

Yes Soros has spent billions to affect policy, funded campaigns worldwide. All that stuff that the "Russian hackers" are blamed for guys like Soros and the Israel lobby have been shown to be doing directly.

Grassley pointed out how women who attacked Senator Jeff Flake on the elevator were affiliated with Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal advocacy group that receives Open Society Foundation funds, i.e. Soros money. Ana Maria Archila, one of the women who faced off against Flake is the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. Another, Maggie Gallagher, was also an activist with the group.

Open Societies is one of the top donors to The Center for Popular Democracy. So technically speaking, Archila definitely is being literally paid by Soros funds.

I am not saying these women aren't doing what they do because they believe in the cause, mind you. I'm just pointing out that Soros funds are literally lining the pockets of some of the front line mobilizing the anti-Kavanaugh resistance. CPA and two other groups were involved in the Women's March and Housing Works and offered $50 to protesters for "post-and-forfeit" in the event that protesters needed to bail out of jail.

Washington Post takes issue with the Daily Caller's claim that, “Left-wing groups funded by George Soros and other major Democratic donors hand out cash to protesters arrested for disrupting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, the activists revealed Monday night.”

PolitiFact rated the idea that Soros was paying Women's March protesters a "Pants on Fire" lie. Because they "found no record of any grants or donations from Soros or his Open Society Foundation to Housing Works." Ah, do you see what they did there? No, he didn't necessarily fund that, he funded the "post-and-forfeit" for protesters who were incidentally jailed.

CPD received over $12 million in gifts, grants and contributions in the 2016 fiscal year, over $13 million in 2015. But don't worry, the Washington Post reassures us that "most of the Open Society Foundations’ money comes with strings attached." So "most" of the money is given with certain provisos, gotya. But it <i>is</i> still coming from George Soros, yes? And it <i>is</i> being funneled into certain protests in various countries worldwide, also true, correct? Well, then the idea that Soros is bankrolling political actions worldwide sounds more like an established fact that "a totally fallacious accusation" as those who manage to do more than skim the headline in the WaPo "analysis" piece.

Jennifer Flynn Walker plays with semantics to explain how “A payment means someone has money at the end of the day to go buy milk for their family. We help people with post-and-forfeit. You get it for the hour or so at the Capitol, and then if you get arrested, you give it to the Capitol Police. You don’t take it home. And if you don’t get arrested, you give it back to us.”

Ok, but is Soros money aiding and advancing the anti-Kavanaugh resistance via "mobilization" and "post-and-forfeit" for protesters and in other ways? Well, absolutely certainly so as we've shown here.

The piece goes on to report how the latest grants for Center for Popular Democracy this year were "designated to recruit and train activists" so mobilization, covering bail for arrested protesters, this is an obvious attempt at shaping policies. It's a good thing Soros is Hungarian because if he hailed from anywhere directly North or Northwest of Ossetia we'd have called him a "democracy hacker."

Laura Silber of the Open Society Foundation said of OSF beneficiary CPD's Ana Maria Archila that her "decision was entirely independent of OSF’s support. That said, the foundations proudly support the right of all citizens to make their voices heard by their elected representatives — a bedrock principle of our democracy that surely Fox News believes in as well."

Of course, OSF doesn't need to tell their beneficiaries how to think, those that sign on for the job are already congruent in opinion. Of course, Fox News and Soros institutions and beneficiaries are obviously biased. OSF believes in free speech and citizens being able to make their voices heard, but will Soros fund training and mobilization for ideals that don't line up with his particular agenda? No, of course not, neither would Fox News for that matter. While we're at it, we could go into how massive amounts of CIA money funneled to Bezos via that Amazon contract could potentially affect the Post's ideological bent, but that's neither here nor there.

WaPo is back at the strawman late in the piece pointing to Daily Caller, National Review, Fox News and Maria Bartiromo invoking the "conservative boogeyman" of Soros in order to "play down the outrage on Capitol Hill over Kavanaugh's nomination." Of course "the evidence that the Open Society Foundations is somehow paying these protesters doesn’t add up." Can we pause here for a moment and ask a new question? Is Soros funding, training and mobilizing his brand of "progressive revolution" worldwide instead? No, of course, WaPo would rather not get into that they would much rather resort to pathetic strawman fallacies to attack a claim without addressing the concern.

Even the post-and-forfeit payments are said to not be directly from the money earmarked by OSF that CPD benefits from, they instead "provided $1.3 million this year for other, specific programs" such as the aforementioned training and mobilizing of activists. Not to mention without the funds from one of their "top donors" Soros the money from other sources wouldn't be available to be accessed in post-and-forfeit programs.

WaPo ends its article claiming that "the balance tips heavily toward 'Soros conspiracy theory' rather than 'Soros facts'" in this case and that "it is wrong to claim the protesters were paid by Soros of directed by him." Spending millions to affect policy and fund campaigns has an effect whether WaPo would like to admit it. I would never make such an unverifiable claim as to say Soros is directly micromanaging the individual policies in his organizations and the ones that they are supporting, but to ignore the power of millions in affecting elections, building up "rapid response" protests and other actions we can tie to Soros is intellectually dishonest at best.

Twitter: #kavanaugh #fakenews

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2 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 38807 2018-10-06 : 17:58


Sword of Truth No. 38809 2018-10-06 : 19:05

All such types will be hunted down as the dregs on society they truly are.

They will be charged with…

Crimes against Humanity.

Check out… "Are You Ready To See Arrests"?! by T.R.U reporting 10/5/2018 quick read at intro. Read or listen at the 8:30 mark for a bit more.

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