It’s easy to dismiss “fringe” media like Alex Jones or Breitbart News or other decidedly racist, anti-Semitic or “alt-right” blogs as the rantings of kooks and those outside the mainstream, except we now have a man in the White House who exploited and stoked the fires of these outlets all the way there.
And so, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates in his recent essay, “the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon.”
Obviously, this type of “fake news” does have monumental consequences.
Therefore, it’s no small thing that these platforms are now trying to once again revise the truth by saying that Heather Heyer’s death was caused not by raging white supremacist James Fields, who mowed her down during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, but because she had a “heart attack.”
Media Matters reports that on Sept. 5, white nationalist and anti-Semitic writer Hunter Wallace wrote on his blog Occidental Dissent that Heyer’s mom “said in an NBC interview she died of a heart attack,” seemingly blaming her death on her weight and not a neo-Nazi lunatic.
According to the outlet, he wrote, “We can’t find any information about Heather Heyer’s injuries or an autopsy. She does seem to be a very large woman though. My guess is that she was at least 250 pounds lying on her back in 90 degree heat. It is reasonable to wonder if her health had something to do with her death.”
Also, Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi blog the Daily Stormer reportedly told the Washington Post weeks earlier that “Heyer may have suffered a heart attack at the scene.”
Of course, once these scurrilous claims hit the public sphere, other brain-deads pick up the mantle.
Media Matters reports:
Other fringe and white nationalist media figures have since run with Wallace’s claim, with some implying it clears Fields of murder charges. Fake news purveyor Before It’s News republished Wallace’s blog post, and white nationalist podcast host James Allsup tweeted that Heyer’s mother and “medical personnel” “confirmed” Heyer died of a heart attack, adding that Wallace’s post “looks to be very well sourced.” A YouTube account called Rogue Rebel that claims to be “dedicated to exposing the left” posted a video claiming that “Heather heyer did not die as a result of being ran over, but from a massive heart attack.” Daily Stormer writer Andrew Auernheimer, who is also a hacker known as “weev” and who previously threatened CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, wrote on Gab, a social media platform favored by white nationalists, that Heyer’s supposed heart attack meant “murder charges on Fields gotta be dropped, and the public has to get told it’s because Heyer was a fucking fat cow.”
Additionally, Wallace’s blog and the Rogue Rebel YouTube clip were picked up by Reddit forum “r/The_Donald” and by 4chan’s and 8chan’s “politically incorrect” message boards (commonly referred to as /pol/), forums known for helping far-right trolls and fake news purveyors spread misinformation. On Reddit, users claimed that Heyer “died of a heart attack, because she was obese and had some stress from the incident” and that the “corrupt” mainstream media were hiding it. On 4chan and 8chan users linked to websites like Infowarsand VDare, urging others to “email these sources” supposed proof of the claim. They also wrote that the “info definitely needs to be made available to Fields’ defense” because Fields “is only guilty of Reckless driving, that’s about a 500.00 fine and no jail time.”
As recent history has shown us, we can’t sleep on these fools; nor can we allow these lies to stand.
Meanwhile, in the real world, James Fields has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer.
Read more at Media Matters.