The National Rifle Association recently ran an ad calling President Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for having armed protection for his children at school. BuzzFeed and some other outlets reported the NRA meant Secret Service, but an extended version of the ad made clear that the NRA was talking about the school’s staff security team.
“[The] school Obama’s daughters attend has 11 armed guards,” the longer ad’s narrator says, citing an article from Breitbart.com.
But a fact-check by the Washington Post found that not to be the case. The Postcalled the school, Sidwell Friends, where Obama’s daughters attend and asked if the school had armed guards. The school responded that none of their 11 security members carry any firearms.
Now, how could an organization as sophisticated, resource-rich, and powerful as the NRA have gotten the “fact” so wrong?
A quick search found that the first post about it came from the Weekly Standard‘s blog. A post by Daniel Halper said that the school — attended by both Obama’s and David Gregory’s children — had 11 armed guards on staff, citing the 11 members of the security team. … The NRA cites a Breitbart article from the same day which aggregated the Weekly Standard’s post.
David Atkins at Hullabaloo has an interesting explanation for why this happened:
When honest pundits try to piece together what happened to the American Right, one of the phrases that tends to get bandied about is “epistemic closure“, which is a really fancy way of saying that everyone on the Right gets their information from everyone else on the Right, with none of them leaving their information cocoon to see or care whether their information plays well with the broader public or is even accurate.
To make a complicated and long story short, the Right’s epistemic closure was a product of believing that every mainstream news and entertainment source leaned significantly to the left. … All of this means that the American Right is subject to some very embarrassing moments of sheer disconnect from both the public and from the truth.
Needless to say, Atkins’ analysis is worth reading in its entirety.