The Dilbert Guy and the “Hoax” Hoax

For anyone under 30, it may be hard to believe that there was once a time when cartoonist Scott Adams was relevant , astute, and apparently in possession of all of his marbles. But my, that was so very long ago. He’s long since gone full fascist; and in the process seems to have dropped dozens of IQ points and acquired quite a few psychiatric disorders.

Apparently, he didn’t intend that to be sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek. So just what bold act of leadership is he referring to? Childishly refusing to accept an election loss? Repeatedly spreading malicious lies about fraud? Telling Mike Pence that “you can’t be my friend anymore” because he didn’t try to unlawfully interfere in the electoral process? Inciting mob violence? Gloating as he watched the mob attack the Capitol and doing nothing to stop it?

It’s always a big disappointment when an artist or any other public figure you admire, or at least respect, goes off the deep end. We’re all shaking our heads over J.K. Rowling. Science fiction author Orson Scott Card, though not consistently fascist, also has had plenty of execrable moments. On the other hand, it was no big surprise that Tulsi Gabbard finally fessed up to being what all the rest of us knew all along. Or that Kanye West and Elon Musk continue to explore new ways to be jerks. Nor was it a shock to realize that James Woods and Randy Quaid had simply been portraying themselves on screen for years. And Kevin Sorbo? Well, he … um… remind me again exactly who he used to be?

Scott Adams, however, was talented. He was funny. And note the past tense. It’s no big surprise that as he began to lose his grip on reality, he also lost his sense of humor.

Stop it, Scott, you’re cracking my ribs.

These days, he seems mostly obsessed with promoting MAGA cult narratives. And to that end, he’s been circulating a list of “hoaxes”, supplemented periodically, in the guise of a “hoax quiz”.

As you may realize, not one of these is really a hoax. Some are entirely true, others are partially true, some are of unknown veracity, and some are simply false conclusions that some sources unintentionally drew from actual occurrences. A hoax is not any of these things; it’s a deliberately false invention from whole cloth intended to deceive. In the true manner of a MAGA cultist, Adams has redefined the term to his liking. For him “hoax” is simply any report that he prefers not to believe. Let’s take a closer look at his list, shall we?

1. Collusion has been confirmed beyond a doubt. Just because he wasn’t convicted of it doesn’t make it a hoax.

2. This is the one item on his list that actually would qualify as a hoax… if we knew that the story is false. But we don’t. The hooker incident has been neither confirmed nor discredited. But it was reported by four credible parties, and seems entirely plausible. And even if the notorious “pee pee tape” turned out to be, as one source claimed, a forgery, that wouldn’t mean that the incident itself didn’t occur.

3. It is unknown whether the Russian bounty story is true.

4. His exact words were “and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”. One of the sides was neo-Nazis. It’s on video. And the efforts of cultists to spin away his comments and assert that he didn’t really say what he said constitute one of the most brazen efforts at gaslighting in recent memory.

5. He didn’t specifically say bleach, but he did suggest getting injected with disinfectant. So he meant bleach or something just as bad. It’s interesting to note that his own defense was not to howl “fake news”, but to resort to his second-favorite defense when he gets caught saying something bad: that he was only joking.

6. This was a faulty conclusion drawn from images of the fish-feeding incident. Sloppy reporting, yes. Hoax, no.

7. The protesters were cleared from the park, and shortly thereafter he staged his phony Bible photo op. So it was an understandable inference that the former was because of the latter. It wasn’t until a week later that an investigation of U.S. Park Police activity revealed that the clearing of protesters had been planned already, to facilitate the installation of a security fence. The investigation did not examine the actions of other law enforement agencies.

8. This was what the evidence initially indicated. It wasn’t until much later that the emails from the much-ballyhooed laptop were determined to be genuine, for what it may be worth.

9. Elections were fair and secure in 2020 (at least as fair as they ever are, given the Electoral College, gerrymandering, etc.). Not just because the courts found no evidence to the contrary, but because nobody did, no matter how hard they tried. Nor, contrary to repeated allegations, were there even any irregularities to suspect otherwise. For Adams and his kind, the assumption is that if their side loses, they were cheated — no matter how thoroughly they’re shown to be wrong.

10. A violent mob broke into the Capitol and tried to murder government officials, with the intent of stopping the certification of an election, and reinstalling their Dear Leader in the White House. But sure, put those cute little quotation marks around “insurrection” if you want to.

11. No, it turns out it wasn’t “The Beast”. It was a different vehicle.

12. Border Patrol Agents have abused refugees verbally. And it appeared they were also abusing them physically after a photo circulated showing horseback agents wielding what appeared to be whips — but actually turned out to be part of their equestrian gear. The media dutifully corrected this misunderstanding, but the MAGAnauts insist on feeling persecuted anyway because someone unwittingly spread misinformation about a couple of agents. Makes perfect sense, eh?

13. Spoiler alert: he did.

14. What part of this exactly is he claiming is a hoax? That she was really governor? That her name was really Whitmer?

15. He definitely mocked a reporter who was disabled. The only question is whether he mocked him because he was disabled. The indication is that he did. And it doesn’t help his case any that he falsely denied knowing the reporter was disabled.

16. Green policies probably will reduce inflation in the long run, in addition to many other benefits. Adams’ presumptions of “hoax” are based on his presumptions about possessing more expertise in economics than economists and the expectation of overnight results. Quite typical for a MAGA cultist.

Journalists sometimes get things wrong. And social media very, very frequently gets things wrong. Some of the errors are minor, some more serious. Some are due to sloppiness, and some are pretty much unavoidable. But here’s the thing: the errors involve all kinds of people of all kinds of ideologies. There are at least as many false reports about Democrats/ liberals/ progressives as there are about Republicans/ conservatives/ fascists. It’s just that the latter focus only on the latter, because a crucial part of their shtick is playing the victim card.

If we applied Adams’ definition, we’d find hoaxes all around us, almost daily. At this writing, there was a howling in right-wing media a couple of days ago because a campaign worker for Marco Rubio was brutally beaten on his rounds — beaten, say the wingers, by a gang of liberals who told him that Republicans weren’t allowed in that neighborhood (a rather bizarre comment given that the neighborhood was mostly Republican). This claim was aired, and perhaps concocted, by Rubio himself; and his fellow wingers quickly took up the drumbeat, declaring that this one incident proves that liberals are more hateful and intolerant and violent than right-wingers.

But a day or so later, as the (non-alternative) facts emerged, it turned out that things didn’t quite go down as reported. It turns out only one person beat the guy up. And he actually said, “You can’t pass by here. This is my neighborhood.” To date there’s been no evidence of political or ideological motivation for the attack. It’s worth noting, however, that the canvasser himself has a history of involvement in white nationalist and Confederate groups — an ideal candidate to be working for Republican campaigns these days — and also has a criminal record.

So should Rubio’s dishonest distortion of the facts be classified as a hoax? Not exactly, but it does come much closer than just about anything on Adams’ roster. So what do you suppose are the odds he’ll be including it in the future?

If Adams really wanted to expose genuine hoaxes, there are plenty to pick from: Pizzagate, Climategate, Emailgate, Uraniumgate, Operation Blaxit, the Clinton “body count”, birtherism, “stand down” order in Benghazi, the Durham probe, Michelle Obama is a man, transgender bathroom predators, Martha’s Vineyard residents spurning migrants, Halloween fentanyl, the Internet censoring “conservatives”, liberal fascism, culture wars, the “woke mob”, the Tik-Tok “Slap a Teacher Challenge”, Ebola at the border, the War On Christmas, “Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate whites”, “grooming”, devil worship cult, Biden is a pedophile, litter boxes at school, “Plandemic”, hydroxychloroquine “cure”, and “Obama apology tour”, to name just a few. These appear nowhere on his list. [UPDATE: Nor, to date, do any of the numerous hoaxes advanced by GOPers following the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi — which just might warrant further discussion here in the future. Or the “suspicious substance” allegedly mailed to Kari Lake.]

But wait. Of course. He’s only interested in the “hoaxes” that somehow relate to his Dear Leader. Okay then, he could have mentioned T—- University . Or the fake Civil War monument that Former Guy has on one of his golf courses. Or, lest we forget, his relentless hawking of the Big Lie — which Adams apparently is more interested in espousing than exposing. Indeed, Former Guy’s entire life has been built on hoaxes and fraud. There is no shortage of material for anyone who’s interested.

But instead, Adams fabricates a hoax of his own: a list of “hoaxes” that don’t exist.

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