Facebook Fallacies: Trump, Clinton, food stamps and rape

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sometime in 2013 or 2014 Ty started a weekly column called Facebook Fallacies. The premise was simple: He would debunk all the erroneous information being shared on his timeline. This was three or four years ago, well before “fake news” and “alternative facts” became household phrases.

Ty quit writing the column for various personal reasons more than a year ago. Since then, the phenomenon he observed on his personal news feed has become a global pandemic. The need to resurrect Facebook Fallacies was apparent.

Facebook is a breeding ground for stupidity, ignorance and subtle (sometimes overt) racism and prejudice. Since shaming is a good way to get people to change, let’s call them out on their BS. Facebook Fallacies is a weekly column that debunks all of the stupid shit floating around Satan’s asshole, aka Facebook.

Trump paid off a couple’s mortgage after fixing his limo’s flat tire

The story: A man noticed a limo with a flat tire and fixed it. Turns out, it was Donald Trump was inside! Trump offered a reward, but the man only asked to send flowers to his wife. Next thing you know, their mortgage was completely paid off, a thank you from Donald Trump. Clearly, President Trump is an extremely charitable, good human being.

The reality: This story was cool the first, second and 45th time I heard it with 45 different celebrities involved before the Trump version came out, as Snopes points out. A lot of red flags in the video.

To start, no one – not even conservative media – picked up this story before “fake news” Western Journalism made this video. Second, the identities of the couple are nowhere to be found. Without knowing who these people are and the exact date and location of the incident, there is no way to verify the story.

According to Snopes*:

In fact, back in 1997, when the Donald Trump version of the tale was still relatively new, Trump’s office was actively denying its truthfulness:

“We’ve heard the story,” said an irritated-sounding assistant of Mr. Trump’s at his New York office. “No, it isn’t true.”

One correction: Media did report on this. Notable idiots Jerry Falwell Jr. and Sean Hannity:

I find it curious that no one directly involved has spoken up, including the couple, the limo driver and whoever Trump was married to at the time.

* A huge tip of the cap to Terry Blastenbrei, @mambolica and @techknight on Twitter for helping me independently verify this claim. It’s true!

Clinton’s planned Executive Orders leaked!

The story: A Democratic insider leaked Hillary Clinton’s list of Executive Orders she would execute if she would have won the election to a publication that no one outside of Crazy Facebook Republican Militia Guy has heard of. Sounds legit!

The reality: Obviously this was published before the election, but that doesn’t stop the far right from sharing the story well after. The story claims that if Clinton were to have won, the following Executive Orders would be signed:

  1. A pathway to citizenship for a minimum of 4 million illegal immigrants.
  2. Work permits to a minimum of 5 million undocumented immigrants.
  3. Ban all guns of any kind. Begin with assault rifles and work down to a nationwide hand-gun ban. She wanted to mimic Australia’s plan.
  4. The “gun show loophole” would also be closed. She planned to allow people to sue gun manufacturers if they were killed by any gun in the United States.
  5. Add more penalties to those that are not covered under the Affordable Care Act that she created. She would have kept 95% of Obama’s policies.
  6. Continue to allow late-term abortions.

To start, no such leaked ever occurred. If you find it weird that such an informant ran to BullshitConservativeNews.org rather than New York Times, Washington Post or even Fox News, you’re not crazy. Even if NYT and WaPo conspired to bury that info, Fox News would have plastered that news all over their website and television shows. But that never happened.

The first two claims have been public knowledge for a while. Clinton’s own website even explained as much: “The estimated 5 million people eligible for DAPA—including DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents—should be protected under the executive actions.” This informant must have a Google machine.

As for the gun ban? Clinton never suggested that, publicly or privately. It is true that Clinton has called for a ban on assault rifles, as has many other Democrat leaders. In fact, that’s a common platform for Democrats. This Washington Post article details how Clinton wanted to bring back an assault rifle ban. That’s right. “Bring back.” The United States has banned assault rifles before. Even Fox News could not outright say Clinton would ban all guns. Rather, they speculated with such qualifying statements as “”Hillary never mentions it, but…” and “Hillary Clinton just couldn’t bring herself to say…”

The gun show loophole and manufacturer lawsuit deal was also public knowledge. You could have read all about it from just about any news outlet, including from nearly every “mainstream, liberal” source that criticized her for the idea, even CNN. Take your pick which source you like best.

She would keep 95 percent of the Affordable Care Act? No shit. This informant sucks.

Lastly, late-term abortions. Another, “Yeah, dude, we know” fact. From the third 2016 presidential debate:

“Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account. The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I do not think the US government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

Why aren’t women going to jail for false rape accusations???

The story: High school football star being scouted by everyone is charged with rape. After six years in prison, charges were dropped after it was discovered that the woman lied about the whole thing. THIS WOMAN SHOULD BE IN JAIL!

The reality: I’m splitting hairs here, but the comments on this post justify my trivial distinction. The facts stated in the post are correct. The man was falsely accused of rape, lost out on a NFL dream, etc. However, the question at the end suggests nothing happened to the accuser.

Not true.

This NBC report reveals that the woman was ultimately ordered to pay back the $2.6 million settlement with the school district that she sued for not providing a safe environment. Her monetary gain was reversed.

So what about the man’s justice? According to the Los Angeles Times, the man’s attorney stated “We do not plan on taking any legal action against Gibson.” She never went to jail because neither the accused nor county prosecutors pursued the case.

Why didn’t L.A. County prosecutors go after her? Three reasons: statute of limitations, the woman was a minor at the time and the woman’s current situation. Regarding the latter, the woman ended up with two kids and obtaining public assistance. A judge or jury are usually sympathetic to a struggling, single mother, especially considering that situation occurred well after the fact.

In other words, the accuser did not get away with what is essentially a false claim. She lost all of the money. After that, bringing up charges was fruitless for both the accused and the county.

Essentially, if anyone – man or woman – falsely accuses anyone of a serious crime, they will pay the price. This woman was no exception. The above Facebook post and its commenters suggest this is not the case. It is.

The New York Times lied about poor people and food stamps!

The story: From the above article:

“A November 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture examined the food shopping patterns of American households who currently receive nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) compared with those not receiving aid. Its central finding? “There were no major differences in the expenditure patterns of SNAP and non-SNAP households, no matter how the data were categorized.”

But you wouldn’t know that from reading the New York Times’ front-page story last Friday.”

The reality: If you actually read the NYT story, you absolutely would know that there were no significant differences between SNAP and non-SNAP household spending habits. The author of the Talk Poverty piece was making her own conclusions that are poorly supported.

Let’s start with this claim: “The actual conclusion of USDA’s study—‘both food stamp recipients and other households generally made similar purchases’—is buried 15 paragraphs down from the sensationalized headline.’

That specific phrase is 15 graphs down, true. Fifteen news graphs, some of which were one or two sentences, so not as far down as one would be led to believe. But the opinion article (not news article) missed the seventh paragraph:

“The report compared SNAP households and non-SNAP households. While those who used food stamps bought slightly more junk food and fewer vegetables, both SNAP and non-SNAP households bought ample amounts of sweetened drinks, candy, ice cream and potato chips. Among non-SNAP households, for example, soft drinks ranked second on the list of food purchases, behind milk.”

Not as definitive as the line on paragraph 15, but it clearly states that both groups buy junk food. But that does not matter because NYT was in fact highlighting that SNAP households are buying unhealthy food. Is it because NYT hates the poor? Hardly. Quite the opposite really.

I did some research for NYT and found this not-so-surprising fact: lower income families have higher rates of obesity. According to this study, “people in America who live in the most poverty-dense counties are those most prone to obesity. Counties with poverty rates of >35% have obesity rates 145% greater than wealthy counties.”

If we’re going to jump to conclusions about the underlying meaning of the NYT article, then perhaps it had more to do with highlighting the pervasive issue of poverty within lower income communities and less to do with shaming them.

In fact, the NYT article may even support the above study’s other claim:

“How is poverty linked to obesity? It has been suggested that individuals who live in impoverished regions have poor access to fresh food. Poverty-dense areas are oftentimes called “food deserts,” implying diminished access to fresh food. However, 43% of households with incomes below the poverty line ($21,756) are food insecure (uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, sufficient food). Accordingly, 14% of U.S. counties have more than 1 in 5 individuals use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The county-wide utility of the program, as expected, correlates with county-wide poverty rates (r = 0.81). Thus, in many poverty-dense regions, people are in hunger and unable to access affordable healthy food, even when funds avail. The double-edged sword of hunger and poor availability of healthy food is, however, unlikely to be the only reason as to why obesity tracks with poverty.”

Furthermore, taxpayers are paying the bill for this program. Therefore, the average taxpayer might like to know that SNAP funds are being used to purchase foods that add to the problem of obesity, which taxpayers also pay for in medical bills in various forms. Essentially, if our goal is to keep people healthy, then maybe food paid for by the government should only include healthy food. Or perhaps grocery stores more prone to SNAP customers should include more healthy options.

“Beyond the article’s inaccuracies, there is a broader problem with this kind of reporting. It reinforces an “us versus them” narrative—as though “the poor” are a stagnant class of Americans permanently dependent on aid programs.”

No. No it does not. Nowhere in the entire NYT piece is this even suggested. It was exclusively about which foods SNAP recipients purchase. It even criticizes Big Soda for lobbying to keep its products available for food stamp purchases.

Lastly, there’s this from the Facebook link: “Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist, noted that the article failed to mention the food item where USDA found the biggest difference in spending: baby food. (Shame on those struggling households for feeding their children.)”

First, I’m picking up the sarcasm in that last sentence. Laying it on pretty thick. Not mentioning that stat does not suggest that NYT is scoffing at poor people feeding babies. In fact, I would argue that NYT may have intentionally left that stat out to prevent any negative vibes towards poor people.

The stat being referred to reveals that SNAP recipients spend a greater percentage on baby food than non-SNAP households. Does this mean SNAP households care about their babies more? Maybe. It could also mean that SNAP households have more babies, a stat that anti-poor people (as NYT is accused of being here) would love to highlight.

Because it’s true. From U.S. Census numbers:

Statistic: Birth rate in the United States in 2014, by household income | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

I find it weird that a publication called “Talk Poverty” completely failed to talk about that part of the equation. While Talk Poverty is talking about a NYT article, they’re not talking about the real issues behind poverty that I just revealed.

Have you come across some “fake news” being shared on your Facebook feed you would like to see publicly annihilated? Share it with Ty at ty@unassociatedpress.org.

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