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A 2015 picture of Ricky Ruvpump, whom Fallis Gunnington of thelastlineofdefense.online fingered as Vice President Mike Pence’s lover. | THELASTLINEOFDEFENSE.ONLINE

BY ED SIKOV | “Mike Pence Being Accused of Having Sexual Relationship with Gay Pornstar Is Fake News” is the attention-grabbing headline of a piece in an online rag called “Business 2 Community.” It’s all pretty breathless in tone; writer Shawn Rice appears to think he’s informing readers of something terribly vital.

“There is no truth to a report that a gay pornstar is now alleging that he and the current Vice President of the United States previously had a sexual relationship when the two were at a ‘pray the gay away camp.’ Pence has been the subject of many fake news, photographs, tweets, and memes, especially with regards to his religious beliefs. This is just another one in a long list of them. Where did this fake news originate? The Last Line of Defense published the fake news article on March 20, 2018, alleging with the salacious headline that Pence was caught having had a sexual affair with a gay Asian pornstar back in 2002.”

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

The story to which Rice refers is this, by one Fallis Gunnington:

“This Monday, another hardcore erotic film star came forward to tell a tale of sexual debauchery with a resident of Pennsylvania Avenue. But this time, the alleged romp partner was Vice President Mike Pence. The homosexual Asian film actor, Nguyen Jolie, who goes by the sobriquet ‘Ricky Ruvpump,’ released a tell-all book of his experiences in the adult film world, ‘Ricky Ruvs Rife.’ In the book, Jolie makes mention of attending a ‘pray the gay away’ camp in 2002, run by Pence and his wife, Karen. He goes on to expound on several instances when he and the future Vice President were intimate together, at times, in explicit detail. For instance, this excerpt, from page 71: ‘He was very friendly, like a caring grandfather. His hands were smooth and smelled like cocoa butter. He told me I was beautiful and touched my lips with his thumbs. He gently pushed me back onto the piano that he had just been playing and told me he was going to “tickle my ivories.” He was a very warm and somewhat sticky lover.’”

Here’s just another example of the liberal media unfairly attacking team Trump, conservative Christians, and righteous people everywhere, right? There’s only one problem. The Last Line of Defense is explicit satire. For one thing, Fallis Gunnington? That should be enough to tip anyone off. Second, The Last Line’s Facebook page contains this blunt statement: “Allow me to clarify for those of you too dense to read the 400 subtle hints and 16 actual disclaimers on this clearly labeled political satire page that promotes an entertainment website: You will find no ‘journalism’ here. There are no sources. We don’t pretend to be able to back our claims. In short, please take your interview questions and your holier than thou opinions and shove them straight up your pooper.”

Weirdly, Rice himself quotes the following notice on the bottom of the Last Line of Defense article’s webpage, calling it a “disclaimer”: “sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r — noun; the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with ‘comedy,’ you should really just move along.”

Wait just a doggone minute. Could it be the case that Shawn Rice’s piece in Business 2 Community is also satire? Have we really gotten to the point of having fake fake news? This is all too confusing. Mother is getting one of her sick headaches.

In other news: Alexander Pope ridicules rape in epic poem.

Speaking of fake news, I’ve been musing lately on the differences and similarities between fake news and no news, with missed-the-point-entirely news thrown in as an additional complication. As a media critic, I cut my teeth on the AIDS epidemic, an era in which nothing in the news could be trusted. I clearly remember the years when the New York Times waited until Tuesday to publish any news of the epidemic. Why? Because that was the day the Times published the section of the paper called Science Times. Thus articles about AIDS only appeared alongside stories about the mating behavior of rhesus monkeys, recent archaeological discoveries in Turkey, and Jane Brody’s latest exhortation to eat more cabbage.

There was next to no coverage of the devastating impact AIDS was having on the hundreds, then thousands of human beings affected by the disease. Only after the more-or-less openly gay cooking columnist Craig Claiborne took the executive editor Abe Rosenthal to lunch and told him that he really ought to be covering the AIDS crisis more thoroughly did Rosenthal slowly began to change his policy of willful ignorance.

But then, in 1986, came the notorious William F. Buckley Jr.’s purely evil op-ed column in which he seriously advocated a policy whereby the US government would forcibly round up all HIV-positive people in the country and tattoo them at the site of their presumed initial infection. Gay men, for instance, would be held down on gurneys while government-commissioned tattoo artists would permanently disfigure their asses.

It was media-sponsored terrorism and had no news or policy value at all. Its purpose was simply to further terrify an already terrified community.

We would (or should) consider this fake news today — fake on a more sophisticated level than Pence’s satirical encounter with Nguyen Jolie, but fake nonetheless. Relegating AIDS to the pages of Science Times promoted the (fake) idea that it was purely a medical problem — that there was no social element to the crisis at all.

The many, many gaps in the Times’ coverage of AIDS, not to mention the outright falsehoods the paper printed, led me (for one) to be deeply skeptical of not only the Times but of media in general. Living through that period was rather like living in 1863 and finding no coverage of the Civil War except in the back of the Sports Pages.

The Times has gotten way, way better since then; gay people have a place at the table (or trough, depending on your politics). And I’ve become a bit less skeptical (read: more gullible, perhaps) of the news media in general. I tend to believe what the folks on MSNBC tell me, whereas I wouldn’t watch Fox News if you paid me. That’s why you don’t see Media Circus coverage of Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, et. al. Life is too short. Five minutes of Fox News would take five years off my life, and it just ain’t worth it.

All of which is to say that fake news can be the deliberate absence of news as well as downright dishonest reporting. When the so-called paper of record failed to cover a catastrophic medical crisis that any conscious person could see was devastating New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and on and on, it was every bit as fake as reporting that Mike Pence fucked Ricky Ruvpump.


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