Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Occupy Democrats: Not Great, But Not Equivalent

I keep seeing statements that Occupy Democrats is the equivalent of Breitbart or InfoWars. One recent example is this generally great post by Andy Singer on StreetsMN.

That grouping seems quite off to me. As I understand Occupy Democrats, it's a low-budget aggregator with an overtly political purpose (it's in the name, after all). According to the Huffington Post, it's five people in a living room, making memes for Facebook and posting to their website as kind of an afterthought (which brings in under $100,000 a year in income).

While Occupy Democrats clearly promotes some incorrect stories (Politifact rates the stories they analyzed as untrue or pants-on-fire 66 percent of the time, and completely true 0 percent of the time, and Snopes has a whole page of posts about them), that doesn't make them equivalent to either Breitbart or InfoWars.

InfoWars completely fabricates the stories it runs out of the feverish, conspiracy-obsessed imagination of Alex Jones. Two years ago, you could not have convinced me that anyone with an IQ above 90 would read or listen to him, let alone make policy based on his ravings.

Breitbart, on the other hand, portrays itself as a legit news source, but publishes retrograde declarations using a continuous stream of cash from right-wing crazies like the Mercers. Its staff is said to be paid handsomely: one mid-level job posted recently had a salary equal to the whole Occupy Democrats budget. You can buy a lot of lies from hungry writers for that kind of money. Breitbart also, famously, has a direct line of communication to President Turnip. That's not something you can say about Occupy Democrats and Obama or other Democratic leaders.

The criticism has made me pay less attention to Facebook posts that share Occupy Democrats, and that's fine. I want my worldview to be based on facts, and that doesn't seem to be enough of a concern for Occupy Democrats. But to paint them with the same brush as InfoWars and Breitbart is clearly one more instance of false equivalence.

I noticed one particularly aggravating thing when looking at the Occupy Democrats website as I wrote this post: Every headline contains the word "just":

  • North Korea just responded to Trump's aggression with a chilling threat
  • Webster dictionary just trolled United Airlines over today's scandal
  • Trump just slapped the Jewish community the face over Passover
  • Eric Trump was just asked to defend his nepotism claim. His answer is revolting
  • Trump just called off his executive order after getting caught lying to America
  • The Russian hacker arrest last night just admitted his virus helped Trump win
 And that's only the first six stories. It continues.

This breathlessness is a hallmark of clickbait, and it lowers my opinion of them even more.

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