The ink wasn't dry on Thursday's editorial re: The Misquoting of Tom Cotton before we had to fire up another one.
The junior senator from Arkansas didn't say the Holocaust was a necessary evil. Such a story never appeared in this paper. Somebody did write such a story, and passed it off as real, and it apparently appeared on a website linked to Al Franken, that card. But it wasn't written by an employee of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, even though the "article" said it was. And it wasn't put on the wire by the Associated Press, even though the "article" suggested it was.
It was fake news. Plain and simple.
For most conservative commentators, this was a breaking ball that stayed in the strike zone, yay high, right down the middle of the plate. If Fox News ever needed a reason to lead with FAKE NEWS, Al Franken & Co. gave it to them, served up perfectly:
Leftist website. Leftist comedian and former leftist U.S. senator. Criticizes Republican senator and war vet. For something that Republican senator never said. And faked an article that said the story appeared in this, his local home state newspaper. And for an Extra Added Bonus, as the cereal boxes used to say, it revolved around the Holocaust, which is about as far removed from a humorous subject as one can provide.
Oh, and if the matter wasn't bad enough, the writer(s) couldn't get by without a poke at all those Christians, too:
The fake story said Sen. Cotton thought the Holocaust was a "necessary evil" because without it, Israel wouldn't have been founded (again), which was a necessary modern event before Jesus can return "in the clouds of glory."
This keeps getting worse and worse.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran the real story about the fake story Thursday. Complete with this statement by Eliza Hussman Gaines, the managing editor, who told it with the bark off: "Sen. Tom Cotton did not speak to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the Holocaust. Reports that he was quoted in the newspaper speaking about the Holocaust are fabricated."
To fabricate is the genteel way of saying "to lie, damnably."
In the real news story about the fake news story--that is, when this paper contacted Al Franken about why he'd do such a thing--the former senator from Minnesota said the whole thing was satire. And, he also noted, people believed it because it was Tom Cotton.
Let's unpack that: Al Franken, or his people, stitched together a fake story complete with Associated Press and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette labeling, but people believed the fake story because it was about Tom Cotton? And then when the Twitterverse ran with the story, sans any labeling about satire, and people were outraged, it was Tom Cotton's fault?
At the least, there are three entities to which Al Franken owes an apology: this paper, the Associated Press and, as much as it would pain Al Franken, a certain senator from Arkansas.
There was a time when Al Franken was funny. Or maybe because his time was the 1970s and '80s, and there were plenty of immature young people who found him entertaining, the way 16-year-olds in 1986 found music videos and bad hairstyles entertaining.
But he's come to this: creating fake news, joking about the Holocaust, and smearing people he doesn't know.
With the Internet, this fake news article could live a long, long time. And find its way back onto social media in another decade or so.
And that, folks, isn't fake news.