Fact-checking websites have a checkered reputation at best. Many lean so far to the left that they cannot recognize their own bias. None has carried that standard so proudly, however, as Snopes. This week, even they have completely outdone themselves. In a February 12, 2020 article titled, “Does This Trump Tweet Echo ‘Mein Kampf?’” Snopes engages in so many sophomoric logical fallacies that they may have done permanent damage to whatever remains of their reputation.
I kept screen captures, just in case they become so embarrassed that it would be too much to leave the article up, even for them.
Snopes founder David Mikkelson authored the article, in which he cites a tweet from August 2018 to examine the issue.
I mean, he’s literally just translating Mein Kampf at this point. pic.twitter.com/Gddw4WqjDT
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) August 16, 2018
I suppose that whenever a blue checkmark uses “literally,” someone needs to confirm it. Snopes to the rescue!
Incidentally, the author reveals his bias right out of the gate by choosing such an old tweet. This has clearly been on his mind for a while now.
Here’s how Mikkelson confirms this tweet:
The statement on the right comes from Hitler’s 1925 autobiographical manifesto “Mein Kampf,” begun while he was imprisoned for his part in a failed coup d’état in Munich, Bavaria, in November 1923. Although Hitler’s work is subject to the vagaries of translation (since Hitler wrote in German), the above passage does appear as worded in Chapter 11 of “Mein Kampf” in at least one English-language translation
There are so many holes in that explanation, it boggles the mind. Let’s examine, first of all, the direct comparison of what Trump has said about the biased press, versus what Hitler said about the press not supporting his agenda. A rather large distinction right off the bat, no? They both criticize the press, so they’re both Literally Hitler™. This is what’s known as a Causal Fallacy — in this case, assuming a correlation with insufficient evidence.
It should go without saying but apparently bears repeating: Trump criticizes the press for their political bias and failure to report accurately, thereby misleading consumers of news and incompletely informing them. Hitler criticized the press for not getting on board with his fascistic plans for German society. The comparison falls apart on its face.
Mikkelson isn’t done with the logical fallacies, however. He then commits an Appeal to Authority — and what an authority!
To what extent the two statements presented above resemble each other is something of a subjective issue, but many critics, such as civil rights lawyer Burt Neuborne, have drawn parallels between Trump’s and Hitler’s attacks on the mainstream press.
Burt Neuborne is an attorney and law professor who litigated cases for the ACLU and NOW, and founded the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. Neuborne has repeatedly accused Trump of bearing a strong resemblance to Hitler. In fact, he wrote a book about it, which Mikkelson quotes:
[Hitler and Trump] unceasingly attack objective truth. “Both Trump and Hitler maintained a relentless assault on the very idea of objective truth,” [Neuborne says]. “Each began the assault by seeking to delegitimize the mainstream press. Hitler quickly coined the epithet Lügenpresse (literally ‘lying press’) to denigrate the mainstream press. Trump uses a paraphrase of Hitler’s lying press epithet — ‘fake news’ — cribbed, no doubt, from one of Hitler’s speeches. For Trump, the mainstream press is a ‘lying press’ that publishes ‘fake news.’” Hitler attacked his opponents as spreading false information to undermine his positions, Neuborne says, just as Trump has attacked “elites” for disseminating false news …
They relentlessly attack mainstream media. Trump’s assaults on the media echo Hitler’s, Neuborne says, noting that he “repeatedly attacks the ‘failing New York Times,’ leads crowds in chanting ‘CNN sucks,’ [and] is personally hostile to most reporters.” He cites the White House’s refusal to fly the flag at half-mast after the murder of five journalists in Annapolis in June 2018, Trump’s efforts to punish CNN by blocking a merger of its corporate parent, and trying to revoke federal Postal Service contracts held by Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. [emphasis added]
Notice that? “Cribbed, no doubt, from one of Hitler’s speeches.” No proof, no detailed analysis of potential plagiarism. Just speculation. Neuborne engages in the same causal fallacy Mikkelson does. That explains why Mikkelson likes his writing so much — it affirms Mikkelson’s own biases without having to ask himself the hard questions.
Perhaps the funniest part of the article is the opening sentence, in which Mikkelson preemptively shoots down any charge of fulfilling Godwin’s Law:
See how blithely he absolves himself of that accusation? Nothing to see here, move along …
If an author refuses to show enough intellectual honesty to thoughtfully compare not just the words, but the intent of a statement, then why should anyone take them seriously?
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.