Gov. Abbott is Totally OK With Sharing Fake News

by and

ELYSIA LEOS
  • Elysia Leos
Gov. Greg Abbott has officially joined the growing list of Texas lawmakers proudly touting fake news stories.

On Tuesday, Abbott tweeted a link to a story from uconservative.net alleging that Dallas Cowboy Owner Jerry Jones made it mandatory for his players to stand for the National Anthem. If the athletes didn't, the article claimed, they'd be off the team. The Dallas Morning News confirmed with Jones that the article's claims were false.


Since then, Abbott told KIDY San Angelo that he knew the story (which first went viral in 2016) wasn't true, but he has yet to delete it from his Twitter — which nearly 169,000 people follow. His tweet has already been shared nearly 1,000 times.

"Well, I wish that the story that was tweeted was true, because I support the proposition," Abbott told KIDY during a interview on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Abbott, that's not how news works.

Uconservative.net is one of the many fake news sites that have sprung up after President Donald Trump's election. Along with football falsehoods, the site has spread fictitious rumors about Willie Nelson being near death and whatever this headline means: "Thousands of Illegals Strip Naked, Take Over NYC." It's also posted a handful of "articles" applauding Abbott's work.

Sharing entirely fabricated news isn't extraordinary among Texas politicians. It's almost become a tradition among Texas conservative lawmakers. Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller — perhaps the most noteworthy fake news propagator — has taken pride in sharing misleading and, at times, completely false information with his flourishing social media fanclub. Miller has shared fake stories about terrorists "preparing for their jihad against the state" from a compound in Houston, a Texas man being forced to take down an American flag because of the "threat it presented to Muslims,"Barack Obama holding a shirt with Che Guevara on it in Cuba, and posted an image that claimed Barack and Michelle Obama lost their law degrees because of ethics charges (they didn't).

"I think probably a few times, you might be right — we got duped,” Miller told the Texas Tribune. “Put something up that might not be true. Didn’t do it maliciously."

Despite these postings, Miller says he hates fake news. He's in good company. Texas politicians Rep. Lamar Smith and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have also come out in opposition against news they call "fake." But unlike Miller, the articles they point to are entirely truthful — just based on facts they don't like (similar to Abbott's "Well, I wish that the story that was tweeted was true..." complaint).

Congressman Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has said that federal departments like NASA and NOAA fabricated scientific studies which point to humans having a detrimental effect on the environment. An adamant climate change denier, Smith has said that articles linking droughts to climate change are "fake news." Smith advised others to get their news from the only source he deems as trustworthy: President Donald Trump.

“Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth," he said in speech on the House floor.

In the midst of the so-called "bathroom-bill" debates during the Texas legislature's regular session, Patrick said that the media's coverage of the bill, including articles about the negative economic effects, was "fake news."

On the heels of President Trump's election, a race tangled in claims of "fake news," many universities now offer classes and public meetings to give people skills so they can determine whether or not a news article is fake. The University of Texas at Arlington calls this type of "fake news,"well, fake. The university, which has online tools to help people decide whether or not a news article is true, calls fake news "intentionally misleading hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purported to be real news often using social media to amplify effect." In contrast, they point out that fake news is not something that someone merely disagrees with or views as negative.

But don't tell that to Abbott.

comment