CBS News‘ “60 Minutes” – which still hasn’t covered the New York nursing home scandal – has come under fire for fabricating a “pay for play” narrative that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gave preferential treatment to Publix to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine because they contributed to his campaign – and then edited out his perfectly reasonable explanation.
In a deceptively edited segment which aired Sunday night, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi barked questions at DeSantis during a March press conference, saying: “Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign… And then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach –”
In 60 Minutes’ deceptive edit, DeSantis appears to dodge the question.
In reality, he notes that other retailers received contracts to distribute before Publix, and that the recommendation to use the chain came from Florida officials.
The US public is as divided over what transpired at the nation’s capitol on January 6, 2021 as it is over who won the 2020 Presidential Election. So what exactly happened at the so-called Capitol riot? Here are 10 questions to consider … while we still can.
States across America are now declaring severe lockdowns in response to a regular stream of disturbing Covid statistics. Yet who’s behind then number-crunching? The terrifying figures are generated by the Covid Tracking Project, an obscure entity operated by a group of biotech entrepreneurs and young statistics novices, and housed at Apple Computer heiress Laurene Powell Jobs’ far-left Atlantic magazine.
In 1994 independent researcher Laird Wilcox published Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America, an especially prescient and helpful study on “racist and anti-semitic hoaxes” that today more than ever deserves the concerted attention of citizens and civic leaders alike.
At present the US divide over race and gender-based issues is being exacerbated by certain well-financed groups with much broader political objectives. The grievances are used as rationale to justify a variety of activities that just a few months ago would have seemed a bit beyond-the-pale–wide-scale looting and vandalism, civil insurrection, and the abrupt termination of people’s livelihoods simply because of an errant social media post or email.
Wilcox’s fundamental argument is that race and ethnic-based hoaxes are typically employed by extremist groups to project victim status that in turn furthers a certain political project. “There are three main reasons,” according to Wilcox.
The first has to do with the personal payoff for victimization, i.e., attention, sympathy, a sense of importance, feeding persecution fantasies, and material payoffs. The second has to do with advancing a political or social agenda, as in the case of hoaxes intending to create support for regulations or legislation, or to help create a climate sympathetic to specific interest groups. The third has to do with insurance fraud, with the racial or anti-Semitic element almost an afterthought. Most hoaxes are combinations of the first two types [emphases added].
If “social activists” can be contracted to commit arson and vault bricks through store windows, as news reports of recent rioting suggest, there’s nothing preventing them from also being hired to spray bigoted, “white supremacist” graffiti in public spaces.
Most importantly, not only do hoaxes create an environment where entire political agendas, legislative programs, and even history itself are predicated on lies and falsehood, they also create the basis for “boy cries wolf” scenarios, where true hate crimes and their victims are dismissed out-of-hand or not treated with the seriousness they in fact deserve.
The following is an excerpt from Crying Wolf‘s initial pages. The entire book is available at the link below.
Forewordto 1994 Edition
This book grew out of a research project I began in 1988 when the issue of racist and anti-Semitic hoaxes first came to my attention in a serious way. I had learned in talking with a former associate in the civil rights movement of the 1960s that a cross-burning I had always assumed was done by white racists was, in fact, done by civil rights workers. This aroused my curiosity, and more extensive probing convinced me that it may not be an uncommon occurrence.
I quickly discovered that there were almost no sources of information on the subject of racist and anti-Semitic hoaxes. Rightwing groups, whom one might suspect would keep tabs on this, were rendered almost useless by their conspiratorial approach to the subject. The various black and Jewish groups were reluctant to discuss the issue. It was evidently a subject that had to be researched from scratch.
In 1989 I established the “Hoaxer Project” to bring together information on the subject. I managed to collect a number of newspaper clippings and in 1990 published a small report entitled The Hoaxer Project Report. Altogether some 5,500 copies of that report were circulated. A few readers began sending me clippings of hoaxes that actually made the newspapers as well as their own accounts of incidents they knew or suspected were hoaxes.
In time this added up to some 300 documented incidents from which the cases described in this book were drawn. I did not have the resources of a clipping service or a large network of “monitors” to assist me. If I had, this compilation might be many times as large.
Obviously, hoaxers are people who have exercised pretty bad judgment. Their acts may have been hurtful to others and they have usually violated various laws. Nevertheless I think it’s important to avoid the concept of “good guys” and “bad guys” when considering this issue. What we seem to have instead are those who are simply responding to an opportunity.
Whenever an abstract ideal acquires the moral urgency that racial equality or opposition to “bigotry” has today, it’s only a matter of time until we find individuals for whom the noble end justifies the questionable means. The militant, moralizing fanatic — quick to compromise important principles in order to enjoy the flush of righteousness — is the stumbling block which any reasonable resolution of racial/ethnic problems must overcome.
Further, in my experience, this uncompromising behavior is often a way of
compensating for a hidden inner ambivalence. The social psychologist Harold D.
Lasswell has written that “dogma is a defensive reaction in the mind of the
theorist, but doubt of which he is unaware.”
This unconscious ambivalence appears to explain the willingness of many
so-called “anti-racists” to justify and practice a kind of reverse racism or
“counter-bigotry.” This manifests itself in the “good” discrimination of
affirmative action and race-preferential policies, as well as in rationalizing
prejudicial and stereotyping statements about white people.
Twenty years ago one couldn’t have said this, but today discrimination in
schools, housing, jobs and government is minimal. Institutional racism is
virtually gone. In its place, a series of preferential policies are firmly
In recent years “anti-racists” have proclaimed that virtually every behavior and institution in our society is covertly racist. Anti-racism has become a small industry in the United States. Entire career fields are built around defining and combatting “racism” in one form or another. As individual problems are solved and offensive behaviors disappear, the definition of racism is broadened again and again to include more and more behaviors, hence we have the problem of “increasing” bigotry and intolerance. I suspect the last thing many professional anti-racists want is a truly race-neutral society. They have developed a vested interest in the continuation of the problem, a kind of “co-dependency” relationship, if you will.
It’s no great surprise that a bright, socially-conscious individual would
realize quite on his or her own that there’s nothing like some racist graffiti
or some other “hate crime” to invigorate the militants, and what the hell, it’s
for a good cause – right? Americans are not known for their ability to defer
gratification for long. Hence, the racist or anti-Semitic hoax. It’s as easy as
Consider a college campus boiling with racial and gender sensitivity, with
courses in victimization, organizations for victims, a constant barrage of
victimization propaganda — but no immediate and palpable victims. “Anti-racist”
vigilantes with no racists (or misogynists and homophobes) to hang had better
get busy and make some, and as we see, they often do.
What I see happening with hoaxes is a kind of “market” process: the frequency of
hoaxes increases with their utility in accomplishing desired ends. When the
“market” or payoff for victimization goes up, the temptation to create
victimization where none exists is very strong and the temptation of exaggerate
minor cases of alleged victimization is even stronger.
Conversely, as the number of hoaxes increases (assuming they are reported) a
greater skepticism toward unproven and marginal victimization claims will
probably increase as well, and hoaxes will become less effective. It’s pretty
much a matter of supply and demand.
Concerning the text, it’s important to realize that in some cases there may have
been further developments in some of the incidents I have covered. If a
particular case is important to you, I advise that you attempt to determine its
current status. Also, for the most part I relied on journalistic accounts for my information. While I believe that these are generally reliable, one has to be
realistic and concede that they are hardly infallible. I have footnoted as many
sources as I could find. It is up to the readers to judge their reliability.
Finally, this publication is a continuing project. It is anticipated that future
editions will appear. I would like to recruit you to help overcome the
disadvantage I have in compiling information on hoaxes. If you see newspaper
coverage or other information about a hoax in your community, please send it to
This study was written in 2013-14 as part of my academic research as Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. I have had numerous papers addressing news coverage of historical events published in academic journals over the past two decades. However, this was the first attempt to offer a scholarly treatment of a research object related to a conspiracy–how the news media “framed” New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination inquiry.
When I presented the paper at the Association For Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Montreal Conference in 2014 the panel respondent congratulated me on what he deemed to be a very well-researched and written manuscript. He further remarked that it was at most a draft or two away from submission for editorial review at a scholarly journal. I was also confident the study would eventually achieve publication.
The paper was subsequently rejected by five journals out-of-hand. The editors refused to even send the paper out for review, which never occurred to me before. Notably, each editor provided a different reason for not wanting to give it further consideration. What is more, three of the venues had published my work in previous years. The paper nevertheless offers a timely contribution to understanding the historical origins of the term “conspiracy theory” and its development from perhaps the most momentous event in 20th century American politics.
This helped me to further realize how despite celebrated notions of unbridled inquiry and academic freedom, certain subjects so historically central to the nation’s history in fact remain taboo among academics–those entrusted by society to research such matters–vis-á-vis their counterparts in professional journalism, with both camps still proceeding in tacit agreement to police the boundaries of permissible discourse and thought. -JFT
“It appears that certain elements of the mass media have an active interest in preventing this case from ever coming to trial at all and find it necessary to employ against me every smear device in the book.” –Jim Garrison (Playboy 1967)
The news media’s failure to interrogate and question the “the lone assassin” theory by the 1964 Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, otherwise known as the Warren Commission, should be recognized as one of the greatest episodes of journalistic misconduct in US history. The mass media have played a pivotal role in the coverup of the Kennedy (JFK) assassination that they unabashedly practice to this day. New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the November 22, 1963 event was the first substantial challenge to the official narrative. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) countered Garrison’s efforts by calling upon its media assets to directly attack, defame, even sabotage the inquiry.
From this episode the CIA developed one of its most potent psychological weapons against political dissent: the “conspiracy theory” label. Over its 50-year lifespan the label has time and again demonstrated its effectiveness in policing the public sphere by calling into question the credibility and even the sanity of journalists, academics, or any other public figure that dares question authorized myths for the masses.
Another day, another fake attack – this time a “vehicular” terror attack perpetrated by one Sayfullo Saipov, a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, who supposedly mowed down bicyclists and pedestrians in a rented Home Depot truck on a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017. This “Halloween massacre” is billed as “the deadliest terror attack on New York City since September 11, 2001.”
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov. Image: New York Daily News.
The crack team of investigators from the NYPD and FBI figured the whole thing out in a matter of hours, helped by evidence provided by Sayfullo himself: his alleged cries of “Allahu Akbar,” a note found on the ground with language associated with ISIS (“It will endure”), and the 90 videos and 3,800 images on his cell phone, which of course the FBI recovered. Or, uh, we seem to have TWO cell phones left at the scene by Saipov, according to some reports.
The rented Home Depot truck that Saipov allegedly used to mow down cyclists and pedestrians in New York, although there is no trace of blood anywhere on the vehicle. Image: NPR.
The cell-phone videos reportedly show ISIS fighters killing prisoners as well as instructions for making an “explosive device.” The images include shots of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the supposed leader of ISIS. Saipov is said to have been inspired by one video in which al-Baghdadi “questioned what Muslims in the United States and elsewhere were doing to respond to the killing of Muslims in Iraq.”