#2. "LAPD Plans to Spend $1 Billion on Jet Packs for Officers"
Back in 2010, the Los Angeles Police Department announced a big purchase to help put them on the cutting edge of maintaining awareness in crowded areas, reducing the spread of rioting and ensuring that kids still consider cops to be cool.
"Look, if I can't beat hippies senseless with this thing, I just don't see the point in any of it. Here's my badge."
When the Martin Jetpack from New Zealand became the first commercially available jet pack in the world, the LAPD announced plans to purchase 10,000 of these super-cool transporters, even though they cost around $100,000 each. Fox News' Fox & Friends morning show not only broke the story, but also became the first major news outlet to show complete bafflement about the appalling amount of money being spent by the city of LA on something so frivolous. For those of you who have trouble envisioning that many zeros, that's one billion dollars -- quite a chunk of change for a police department that hadn't even been able to afford new squad cars for years.
Maybe because they were saving for the sci-fi future force, duh.
They Believed It Because:
Republican, Democrat or other, we all love to hear stories of the government squandering our hard-earned tax money on frivolous, expensive toys. Yes, it was the conservative Fox News that reported it, but these stories are as old as journalism itself. Where is all of this tax money going, anyway?
To be fair, the anchors at Fox realized that they got the story wrong and issued a correction within an hour. However, they conveniently left out the most interesting part of their correction -- the original source. You see, the story came from the Weekly World News, a supermarket tabloid that purposely makes up far-fetched stories to draw in readers who don't know any better.
Of course it's trustworthy, it's got the word "reliable" right there next to Bat Boy's face.
If they'd bothered to dig a little deeper into the report, they would have noticed details that should have thrown up red flags -- such as the fact that the Martin Aircraft Company was "working on a second model that can take you to the moon." But really, why keep reading past the part that supports your political narrative? You've found your talking point, hurry up and get that shit on the air!
"Look, just CTRL+F 'murdered children' and 'Obama' and we'll take it from there."
#1. "Heroic Survivor to Face Animal Cruelty Charges Because He Hunted to Survive"
Poor Jake Landon had become stranded in the harsh wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains after his truck skidded off a road. He slowly but determinedly made his way to civilization, keeping himself alive by killing fish and squirrels with a pointy stick.
When he finally made it through his ordeal and was released from the hospital, the state of New York chose that precise moment to kick Landon square in the balls by announcing that they would file criminal felony charges of "aggravated extreme animal cruelty" against him for the killing of "10 squirrels and [an] indeterminate number of fish." Because -- get this -- they had determined that he had raised his caloric requirements by actively trying to save himself rather than just staying put and waiting for rescuers to find him, thus requiring him to kill more animals than was necessary.
"'Wrestled a grizzly,' did you? 'Lost a hand,' hard man? That bear is a threatened species."
The outrage that this action prompted got a mention on an episode of ABC's This Week With David Brinkley. New York state's environmental agency was flooded with phone calls from angry citizens and reporters asking where they could find Landon to interview him. And according to the late newspaper columnist Mike Royko, it also received coverage by radio news announcer Paul Harvey and talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
They Believed It Because:
It's political correctness run amok! Again! See, we don't actually need to be sensitive to the environment, or wildlife (or minorities, or other religions, etc.), because every single complaint or lawsuit is really just a silly, frivolous bunch of whining devoid of all common sense! Now watch while we feed you example after example of hard-working, down-to-earth folk getting bullied over these ridiculous PC rules!
Turns out you CAN spell "freedom" without "accountability."
The story actually came from a right-wing magazine called Heterodoxy, written and compiled by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (later known as the right-wing think tank the David Horowitz Freedom Center). The story was intended to be satirical fiction, a regular fictional feature by the article's author. Anyone who wasn't a subscriber or regular reader may not have been aware of this, since it wasn't clearly labeled as satire, but there were several very obvious tells within the story that could have been ferreted out by a long-forgotten method of research known as "reading the damned thing."
First of all, the mainstream media caught wind of the story after it was picked up by the Christian conservative American Family Association and printed in its Journal, which cited only the CSPC as a source and ran it alongside such informative headlines as "Disney Preaches Nature Religion" and "Coming Out ... to God (Former Homosexual Says Devotion to Jesus Gave Him the Power to Overcome His Sinful Behavior)."
"Lying is a sin, and I'd sure be lying to myself if I started sexing ladies. Praise Jesus!"
But digging a bit deeper than the source and the headline, the article mentions that the group "Humans for the Sensitive Treatment of Animals (HuSTA)" urged the state of New York to seek the criminal charges after scientists from the "Federal Animal Protection Bureau" found that killing an animal can cause fear and emotional harm in its fellow woodland creatures. Neither organization exists.
Though there does in fact appear to be a state in America called New York, so they did get that part right.
Although squirrel meat is restricted to only 15 percent of all meat sales.
For more reasons not to trust the media (or anyone), check out The 5 Ballsiest Lies Ever Passed off as Journalism and The 5 Most Ridiculous Lies Ever Published as Non-Fiction.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which Cracked columnist has been lying to you all the whole time.
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