The idea of a “decade in review” article at the end of 2019 is a bit of “fake news.” Technically, the current decade does not end until December 31, 2020.
In that spirit, it is worth looking back at the past ten years through the “fake news” lens. These were years in which the mainstream media used false allegations and biased reporting to suppress conservative voices; they were also the first years in which, thanks to Andrew Breitbart, we began to resist them.
2010: Tea Party “N-word.” The media’s claimed, based on false allegations by House Democrats, that Tea Party protesters called civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) the “n-word” at a demonstration on Capitol Hill against Obamacare. Andrew Breitbart offered $10,000, then $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund if anyone could provide video proving the allegation. No one ever did, but the fake news tarnished the Tea Party — permanently.
2011: Sarah Palin and Tucson shooting. The media blamed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for inciting a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona because her PAC used crosshairs in an ad identifying “targeted” congressional districts, including that of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). The shooter turned out to be insane. In other fake news, media blamed Tea Party Republicans for the debt limit showdown, though many ultimately would vote to raise it.
2012: Mitt Romney’s taxes, and Benghazi. The media played up sensational accusations that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had killed a former employee’s wife, or failed to pay taxes. These were all untrue — a fact later justified by former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who noted with satisfaction that Romney had lost. The second presidential debate featured a CNN moderator intervening to defend Obama’s lies about Benghazi.
2013: Obamacare collapse. The media mocked and attacked Republicans after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used a “talking filibuster” to shut the government down ahead of the imminent launch of Obamacare. When Obamacare finally opened, however, the federal website did not work; one state’s insurance exchange collapsed and never recovered. In subsequent years, households were shocked by rising premiums and unaffordably high deductibles.
2014: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The media reported — and celebrated — the infamously false claim that black teenager Michael Brown had been shot in the back while attempting to surrender to police; in fact he had grabbed an officer’s gun and was charging him when he was shot in self-defense. That fake news story damaged race relations and disrupted policing in urban neighborhoods — ironically, making black Americans more unsafe.
2015: Trump remarks on Mexicans and Muslims. In what would become the new template for coverage of Donald Trump, the media claimed that he had called all Mexican immigrants “rapists” in his campaign launch speech, though he had clearly attempted to distinguish between criminals and “good people.” His later call for a “Muslim ban,” likewise, was a response to Islamic terror, not an expression of some innate religious prejudice.
2016: Russian intervention in the election. When Trump joked at a press conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing,” the media — and the Obama administration — took that as evidence that he was colluding with Russian attempts to interfere in the election. That led to surveillance of the Trump campaign and to media leaks that planted the seeds of the conspiracy theory that still haunts us to this day.
2017: Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax. President Trump condemned violence on all sides; specifically condemned racism; then noted that there were “very fine people” among non-violent protesters on both sides of the issue of the removal of a Confederate statue, adding: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.” The media later said that he had called neo-Nazis “very fine people.”
2018: “Kids in cages.” In 2014, Breitbart News broke the story that thousands of illegal alien kids were suddenly swamping the border. The media covered the story, but largely ignored that Obama had built chain-link fences in temporary holding facilities. By 2018, thy claimed Trump was putting “kids in cages” by enforcing existing laws. Latee, the media spread unsubstantiated sexual allegations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanagh.
2019: Ukraine phone call and impeachment. The Democrats, relying on a second- or third-hand complaint from a so-called “whistleblower,” claimed that president Trump tried to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” Trump released the rough “transcript” of the call, showing he had done nothing of the sort. The Democrats pressed ahead with impeachment, using the media to publish selective leaks of closed-door testimony.
No doubt 2020 will bring more fake news, with an impeachment trial and a presidential election looming — against the backdrop of the most successful economy in American history.
What Andrew Breitbart called the “Democrat-Media Complex” will be fighting hard, assisted by the censorship of tech giants in Silicon Valley.
However, thanks to him, the American people still have alternative media through which to find the truth, to fight back, and to win.
Updated to add Brett Kavanaugh.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.