Some things in the publishing industry are just wrong. And Catherine Thompson at Talking Points Memo, brings my attention to one, News Sites Get Duped By Satire About Bachmann “Americanization” Camps. What happened was that the website KCTV 7 published a story, Michele Bachmann Suggests Labor Camps for Immigrant Children. And such prominent websites as Daily Kos and Crooks & Liars picked up on it. The question is, why?
Well, let’s start with the fact that Michele Bachmann saying crazy things like this is not at all surprising. In fact, her mixing up of John Wayne Gacy and John Wayne to this day sounds like a brilliant joke written by one of Jon Stewart’s better writers. And we live in a world where conservatives gather at the border yelling at kids and holding up signs, “Not Our Problem!” We also live in a world where Newt Gingrich called for poor kids to do janitorial work at their schools. So Bachmann saying that we ought to set up work camps for the child refugees just isn’t much of a stretch.
The article originally ran in National Report, a well known satirical site that it usually quite good. I wrote about them less than two weeks ago, Cruz and Beck Distribute Crisp, Refreshing Dasani Sparkling Water to Brown Children. But I have to say, the Bachmann article contains very little satire. There is an over-emphasis on learning English, a casual dismissal of putting four-year-olds to work, and a subtle but funny reference to school vouchers. I doubt I would have caught the satire if I hadn’t known. It does end with a very funny paragraph about Jose Antonio Vargas accusing her of wanting to indoctrinate future Republican voters—just as silly an idea as the actual Republican belief that immigration reform is really all about winning elections two decades from now.
If the websites had been fooled by National Report, however, I wouldn’t be all that sympathetic. It is a well known satirical site, although I have to admit that I can’t find any actual indication on the site that says this. The Daily Currant is very clear about it being a satirical outlet, even though it gets more than its fair share of people taking it seriously. But National Report is big enough to have a Wikipedia page where you can check. That brings us to KCTV 7.
KCTV 5 is an actual CBS-affiliated television station serving Kansas City (both of them). Clearly, KCTV 7 is meant to deceive. What’s more, there is absolutely no indication on their site that it is satirical. Nor is there any indication that the Bachmann story first ran in the National Report. So of course, I understand the outlets that got confused. But it really does seem that the people at KCTV 7 are a bunch of jerks. But it may be that they simply haven’t been doing this for very long. Maybe their idea of good publicity is to confuse as many people as possible.