Monday, December 31, 2018


The president of the United States tweeted this yesterday:

As The Washington Post informs us, he's wrong:
Trump’s assertion came as a surprise to two of the Obamas' neighbors Monday, who told The Washington Post that there is no such wall. The 8,200-square-foot structure, despite several security features, is completely visible from the street....

“There’s a fence that goes along the front of the house, but it’s the same as the other neighbors have,” [one] neighbor said. “It’s tastefully done.” ...

Another neighbor said the Obamas' home is “100 percent visible from the street.”

“There is no 10-foot wall in the front, back or sides of the house — and no wall is going up,” the person said.

But it's not true that Trump "completely invented" this claim. It comes from the Trump-friendly media.

In January 2017, the pro-Trump gossip site TMZ reported:
President Obama is taking a cue from Donald Trump ... he's building himself a wall.

We got photos of construction at Obama's soon-to-be D.C. rental....

We broke the story ... the rental will be home until Sasha graduates so the Obamas needed the property outfitted for the Secret Service and ... it needed more fortification.
At the time, the story was picked up by some right-wing sites: Breitbart ("President Barack Obama will reportedly have a big, beautiful wall around his new home in Washington DC"), the American Mirror ("As Barack Obama waxes eloquent about the supposed negative impact of walls on humanity, crews have completed the wall surrounding his Washington, DC home"), David Horowitz's Truth Revolt ("Leftists always lecture people on the need to be building bridges, not walls. Obama doesn't seem to live by that message, as reports and photos show him to be building a "great wall" around his multi-million dollar property in Washington D.C."), Milo Yiannopoulos's site ("Report: Crews Finish Building The Wall ... Around Obama’s D.C. Home").

And then the story was forgotten -- except, probably, by whatever Trump staffer or ally brought it to the president's attention this week. And now Fox News, the New York Post, and other right-wing sites are reporting the tweet as factual. Headline at Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire: "MASTER TROLL: Trump Points Out The Obamas Have A 10-Foot Wall Around Their House."

Of course, Trump "pointed out" no such thing, because it's simply not true. (I can't find any pre-Trump story that gives a height for the wall, but that's standard operating procedure for Trump when he's lying -- he likes to attach a very specific-sounding bogus number to whatever nonsense he's peddling in order to persuade his audience that he's telling the truth.)

In the 1990s, James Carville talked about the "puke funnel" -- a process by which right-wing think tanks planted stories at fringe websites that then wormed their way into the mainstream. A Clinton White House memo described the process:

News doesn't really work that way anymore -- there's hardly any difference between the "mainstream" right-wing media and the conservative fringe.

On this story, Trump has been a new-style puke funnel -- he's taken an old right-wing meme and re-memified it. He's recycling the puke -- which seems like the one thing he's good at.

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