A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
Shortly after the presidential election last November, vandals struck a Bean Blossom, Indiana, church, defacing it with graffiti featuring a swastika, along with the phrases “Heil Trump” and “Fag Church.” The trouble, as many conservative media sites reported late this week, is that the perpetrator wasn’t actually a Trump supporter. To the contrary, it was a liberal member of the congregation.
As Independent Journal Review explained: "Six months later, the culprit has been discovered: the same organist who originally reported the graffiti on the side of the church." That organist, George Nathaniel Stang, reportedly confessed to his actions, claiming that they had been a "false flag" designed to help galvanize resistance to the then newly elected Trump. "Stang admitted to wanting to 'mobilize a movement' but did not expect the national media coverage that the incident received," IJR wrote.
Many outlets stressed Stang’s sexuality when discussing the hoax. “Gay Choir Director Admits to Spray-Painting ‘Heil Trump’ Graffiti on His Church After Election,” read a headline on Glenn Beck’s the Blaze. Though the accompanying article also brought up this point, it did so only in passing. The site’s commenters, however, focused on it, variously suggesting that it indicated Stang’s church was “not really a church at all” and that “since they have a gay choir director, they certainly aren’t doing everything right,” among other observations. Breitbart likewise referred to Stang as a “gay activist” as well as “a Hillary supporter.”
In an article titled “Yet Another Hate Crime Turns Out to Be a Hoax,” the Daily Caller connected the arrest to what it saw as larger trends in the representation of hate crimes. The vandalism “was mentioned in 15 articles by [the Washington Post], yet, as of publication time, they have yet to write about Stang’s arrest,” it reported. Noting that CNN had also not yet published an updated story on the topic, the site stated: "In the wake of Trump's election there has been a surge in reported hate crimes, however, they frequently end up being hoaxes." (In the month after the election alone, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 1,094 bias-related incidents. The Daily Caller says that it reported on five hoaxes during that same general time period.)
An opinion survey accompanying the Daily Caller’s article asked readers whether they “Think There Is an Epidemic of Hate Crime Hoaxes in America.” Completing the survey automatically enrolls voters in "Daily Caller news updates free of charge."
In other news:
Several conservative outlets mocked Cher for a series of tweets—which Fox News’ website called “bizarre” and “unhinged”—in which she worried that there would be no support for conditions like asthma, from which she suffers, under the AHCA. Noting, "Cher was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election," that Fox News post mostly took the opportunity to revisit many of her stranger Twitter moments.
Though Cher seemed to be using her own illness as an example (and suggesting that it was just one of many conditions that would be endangered by the bill), Breitbart also wrote that she was "lamenting that the bill’s signature into law would threaten to cut funding to treat her asthma." Embracing this framing, some of the site’s commenters mocked the singer and actress for believing that the government should pay for health care. They weren't alone in that understanding: "Isn’t it about time Cher paid her fair share?" asked Gateway Pundit before pointing out that the pop star is "worth $305 million" and suggesting that she “will be just fine.”
Posts mocking Cher also performed well on Facebook: