Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Fake news via hazy paths

Step right up, step right up! How about it there, young reporter from The Washington Times; want to try your luck at the Fake News Wheel?

After spending more than $22 million on the Dakota Access pipeline protest, North Dakota wants to make sure any paid activists remember to submit their state income taxes.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said his office is keeping an eye out for tax forms from environmental groups that may have hired protesters to agitate against the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline project.

“It’s something we’re looking at. I can tell you I’ve had a number of conversations with legislators regarding this very issue,” said Mr. Rauschenberger. “[We’re] looking at the entities that have potential paid contractors here on their behalf doing work.”

BZZZZZT! So close! Ready for another go? Or ... say, could this be the same reporter who wrote the "paid activists" story two weeks ago?

Donald Trump may have a point about paid protesters: Job ads running in more than 20 cities offer $2,500 per month for agitators to demonstrate at this week’s presidential inauguration events.

Or, on reflection, he may not. The screen grab above is from The Fox Nation, because -- although the url still points to "ads-two-dozen-cities-offer-protesters-2500-agitate/" -- the Times story itself has been (ahem) somewhat modified:

The polished Demand Protest website, the ads recruiting paid protesters for the Trump inauguration: Apparently it was all a hoax.

A man using the alias “Dominic Tullipso” said Tuesday on Fox News Channel — well, it was hard to figure out what he was trying to say, but it was also clear that he wasn’t running a business that involved spending thousands on hiring activists.

So even after having been caught out -- by Tucker Carlson, as if somehow that might not be embarrassment enough -- as the sort of rube who falls for the "paid protesters" trope on its first appearance, we're still all in for ... how does that go again?

It’s no secret that millions have been funneled into the six-month-old demonstration via crowdfunding websites, and that more than 30 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food and Water Watch, and Greenpeace, have backed the protest.

If national environmental organizations are paying protest personnel, they’re not saying so publicly. Still, Mr. Rauschenberger said red flags will be raised if he doesn’t start seeing W2 or 1099 tax forms from those affiliated with the protest arriving at his office.

“It’s something we could possibly pursue if we don’t see 1099s coming in for the activity,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.

Does anyone out there think Ryan Rauschenberger ought to be allowed to go to the county fair by humself? Or even accompanied by a Washington Times reporter?


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