Faking the News: How Media Took a Personal Story and Made It Political

One of Donald Trump’s favorite refrains is “Fake News.” While I don’t generally agree with the President on anything, and certainly not on the way he applies the term, it’s true that there is fake news out there, that certain media outlets will start with actual news and subvert it to make a political point, and that doing so damages people. This week provided a prime example.

When Natalie Weaver tweeted photo of her daughter Sophia, she did it with the most noble of intentions: advocate for better healthcare and legal protections for people with disabilities. Sophia suffers from Rett Syndrome and other ailments, and her family’s story has inspired many to act on the behalf of the disabled.

Unfortunately, Twitter has no shortage of “trolls,” (for our purposes, let’s call them “assholes”), who scour the internet from their lonely basements, looking for ways to hurt people. When one of these assholes, Twitter user @OBSIDIANSMOAK, came across Sophia’s photo and story, it took the opportunity to steal and share this photo to advocate for forced amniocentesis and eugenics – the policy the Nazis firmly espoused to “improve” the genetic quality of the population. In short, he advocated aborting fetuses with genetic abnormalities, and sent months of attacks at Weaver to this end.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy reads, “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”  However, when reporting a tweet for violating this policy, one may only report for “hateful conduct against a race, religion, gender, or orientation.” Months of reporting these harassing tweets received responses from Twitter that the asshole @OBSIDIANSMOAK did not violate the hateful conduct policy, and the tweets were allowed to remain. @OBSIDIANSMOAK then used these emails from twitter to further harass Weaver and her family.

This week, it finally went farther than Weaver was willing to bear. She sent a tweet asking for help in reporting @OBDSIDIANSMOAK, and thousands of Twitter users did just that. A reporter from Fox News picked reached out, and a story ran on Monday of this week: the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. While the article accurately depicted the story, the headline tied it into the abortion debate. Weaver, who is pro-choice, objected to the characterization but was grateful for the attention it drew.

Soon, thousands more people from across the political spectrum joined in against @OBSIDIANSMOAK. It seemed a rare moment at first: unity between Left and Right in today’s charged political climate. Twitter, after this intervention, suspended the account of @OBSIDIANSMOAK. Soon, though, media stories about the situation began to change the narrative..

“This was never about abortion,” Weaver told PatriotNOTPartisan. “I had two goals: stop @OBSIDIANSMOAK from using Sophia’s image, and get Twitter to clearly include hateful conduct against the disabled in its anti-harassment policies.” Instead, media outlets like Daily Wire, LifeNews.com and Fox News have used her story as an anti-abortion piece, identifying @OBSIDIANSMOAK as a left-wing abortion proponent.

I have seen the asshole @OBSIDIANSMOAK’s Twitter stream. It was full of attacks on Hillary Clinton, feminists, Rosie O’Donnell, and other liberals. The asshole was no liberal. It was an asshole.

And this is what these media outlets have done: it has taken the story of a family fighting for the rights of a medically fragile child to live free from harassment online and turned it into a story attacking abortion rights. In doing so, they have stolen and used Sophia’s image and story for political gain-just like the asshole @OBSIDIANSMOAK did.

There is fake news out there. And this is how it is born.

Contributing Editor: Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson is a writer and father of a chronically ill teenager who somehow still likes him. His non-fiction and opinion pieces have appeared in Patch Media, WBUR's Cognoscenti, and the Penmen Review. His fiction and poetry has been published in New Millennium Writings, The Legendary, 50 Word Stories, and anywhere else he can con an editor into buying his work. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his daughter.

24 Comments

  • http://issuu.com
    Posted February 19, 2018 4:57 am 0Likes

    My flіp, my turn.? Larry said eagerly wiggⅼing to get aan opportunity tto tаlk.
    ?I believe one of the Ƅest thing ɑbout God iis
    thgat he can beat up the devil as a result of
    the sаstan iѕ scarу and imply and uɡly ɑnd unheаlthy and God
    can beat him up so tthe devil ϲan?t hurt us lke he did these dekon filled individuals
    in Jesus day.

  • http://digg.com
    Posted February 20, 2018 2:05 am 0Likes

    Ӏ know a game we wilⅼ plаy thats liie Daddy is talking about.?
    Mommy said making bߋth boys ᴡish too know the sport a lot.

    ?It?s referred to as ?What is tһe best thing about Ԍod.
    Αnd every of us haѕ tto come uρ witһ oone aсtually good thing we
    like about God. Who wants to go first?? Lee annd Larrʏ jjumpeɗ and shouted ?MЕ ⅯE!?
    waving their arms within the aair liкe they do
    at school. Finally, Mommy stated, ?Efferctiveⅼy Lee, since
    youre tѡo minutes olԀer than Laгry, youll be ablke tо go first.

  • Napoleon Gordey
    Posted March 4, 2018 1:48 pm 0Likes

    Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little
    lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    ffor a paid option? There aare so many otions out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any tips? Bless you!

  • Blog
    Posted March 27, 2018 3:44 am 0Likes

    Did someone say corned beef?

  • stunning
    Posted April 14, 2018 9:31 am 0Likes

    Ꮐreat blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yourѕ nowadays.

    I serіouѕly appreciate individuals liқe you!
    Take care!!

  • Emmalyn
    Posted April 14, 2018 10:18 pm 0Likes

    Why viewers still make use of to read news papers when in this technological world all is existing on net?

  • Iomoio
    Posted April 16, 2018 4:11 am 0Likes

    Thank you for your website post. Thomas and I have been saving for a new guide on this matter and your blog post has made people like us to save all of our money. Your thinking really responded to all our queries. In fact, in excess of what we had known prior to when we came upon your fantastic blog. I no longer nurture doubts along with a troubled mind because you have clearly attended to our own needs in this article. Thanks

  • Too many cooks
    Posted April 17, 2018 6:05 am 0Likes

    These two better settle their score now before everything ends up burnt!

  • SnowGem Pool
    Posted April 17, 2018 8:03 am 0Likes

    “I am just starting to learn about all of this. Thanks for your help!”

  • Couple has the best seat in the house
    Posted April 21, 2018 9:48 am 0Likes

    These two sure know how to enjoy a movie!

  • deuce
    Posted April 21, 2018 10:41 am 0Likes

    Please lеt me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your weblog.
    You have somе really good posts and Ι believe I
    would be a good asset. If you ever ᴡant to take sοme of the loaԀ
    off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange
    for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.
    Many thanks!

  • Couple in movie theater
    Posted April 21, 2018 10:42 am 0Likes

    This has to be the happiest couple on planet Earth!

  • Old guy reads the newspaper on a beautiful sunny day
    Posted April 21, 2018 11:48 pm 0Likes

    Nothing relaxes him like reading does.

  • Relaxing while reading the newspaper
    Posted April 22, 2018 3:22 am 0Likes

    Nothing makes him more happy than reading a newspaper underneath a tree.

  • Kitty Futurology
    Posted April 22, 2018 10:33 am 0Likes

    This is the future of kitty cats.

  • Even doctors like chocolate
    Posted April 22, 2018 3:13 pm 0Likes

    Nothing is more relaxing than eating chocalate!

  • The future of kitty cats
    Posted April 22, 2018 4:04 pm 0Likes

    This is what the future holds for kitty cats.

  • He likes to be their first customer in the morning
    Posted April 22, 2018 7:26 pm 0Likes

    Expect to see him when the restaurant opens every day.

  • Doctor enjoying chocolate
    Posted April 22, 2018 9:21 pm 0Likes

    Doctor bite right into a chococlate bar.

  • Very cute kitty
    Posted April 23, 2018 6:51 am 0Likes

    Isn’t that a cute kitty?!

  • guy waiting at door
    Posted April 23, 2018 9:35 am 0Likes

    He’s just waiting patiently for the place to open up.

  • fourteen
    Posted May 22, 2018 5:16 am 0Likes

    Υesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and
    testeⅾ to ѕee if іt can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a
    youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now brⲟken and she has 83 viеws.
    I know this is tߋtally off topic but Ι had to share it with sⲟmeone!

  • how to sell your house fast cincinnati
    Posted May 25, 2018 11:30 pm 0Likes

    I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more
    useful than ever before.

Add Comment