Over the past eight years it has been an article of faith on the tinfoilier parts of the right that Snopes, the online fact-checking site that is literally as old as Nickelback’s career, is an untrustworthy, leftist organization dedicated to making conservatives look stupid. Well, get ready for Snopes to change gears because here comes Trump’s America, and already the site is hard at work untangling the falsehoods surrounding the new president as it has always done.
First, a hypothesis: The party out of power always lies the most. The party in power rarely has to because it has the power. Nothing shows this to be true like a reading of Snopes’ history.
It’s easy to forget, but during the W. Bush years, the left came up with a ridiculous amount of conspiracy nonsense and bullshit, and Snopes was there quietly debunking it. Remember when we were all making fun of W. for waving at blind musician Stevie Wonder? Snopes reminded us it didn’t actually happen. The site also reminded us that, no, W. did not actually have the lowest IQ of any president, that a claim he refused to sell his Dallas home to blacks was not true, that a photo of him reading a book upside down was CLEARLY PHOTOSHOPPED, and…oh, hey, I didn’t know this one: Bush did not call Eminem the “most dangerous threat to American children since polio," though if I were Marshall Mathers, I would long ago have put that on my business card regardless of its veracity because you don’t let a tagline like that go to waste.
Instead, people remember having their friends and relatives remind them over the past decade that Obama was not actually a radical Muslim who wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, wasn’t endorsed by the KKK (I’ll let the irony settle on that one), wasn’t photographed holding a phone upside down and wasn’t the bloody AntiChrist according to anyone who actually bothered to read the Bible. In short, the recent memory of Snopes is basically a history of people who hate Obama being told they’re wrong.
You’d better get ready for Trump's being right, though. Look, I understand that Donald Trump is a person uniquely lax with the truth in American politics. He basically has the worst trustworthiness score in modern history, and his chief strategist is a man who made a living distorting the truth for right-wing clicks. Trump’s press secretary has already made lying his leitmotif, and counselor Kellyanne Conway has coined the term “alternative facts” when dealing with Trump. All this is true.
And yet, misinformation about Trump abounds, and Snopes, as is its want, is quietly dealing with it. Did Trump plagiarize Bee Movie in his inaugural address? Nope, that’s wrong. Nor was he born in Pakistan. Nor did he call Republicans the “dumbest group of voters." Nor did a Russian prostitute say Trump had a tiny dick. Snopes debunked all of that.
That’s not to say Snopes is pro-Trump now. In fact, way more articles about Trump on the site are true than should be of any incoming president considering they are, you know, kind of batshit insane.
That said, facts are facts, and I hate to repeat myself, but reality does not care about your feelings. Either a thing is, or it isn’t, and either you can trust a source to distinguish the two, or you can’t. Snopes is in the process of both defending Trump and pointing out when he and the truth part ways. We’d all do better to stop attacking the source and start dealing with the facts.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.