At the end of last year, in an investigation of the Facebook pages of Colorado state legislators, I revealed that then State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) posted a fake-news item claiming that Wikileaks documents proved the "assassination of Scalia" was orchestrated by the Clintons.
The day after Klingenschmitt posted the Scalia item, Snopes showed it to be false, concluding, "An e-mail published by WikiLeaks referenced not the literal assassination of Antonin Scalia, but what appeared to be a coordinated smear of Bernie Sanders."
Yet the item remains on Klingenschmitt's Facebook page to this day, along with this comment, "Anybody have a comment on this? Scalia dies same weekend after Podesta (for Hillary Clinton) sends this 'wet works' email? Hmmmm."
I asked "Dr. Chaps," as Klingenschmitt calls himself, why he hasn't removed the fake news.
Klingenschmitt: "As an aspiring journalist, truth is my stock and trade, so I do not intentionally re-post items on Facebook if I know they are false," Klingenschmitt told me via email. "If I remember the actual news article going around months ago, it did not allege that Hillary Clinton killed Justice Scalia, of course that would be fake news. Instead it merely compared the timelines of two true events: 1) Hillary's staffer John Podesta's actual emails about planning to conduct "wet works" operations the same weekend that 2) Scalia died suspiciously without autopsy, and the only witness initially said Scalia's body had a pillow over his head. So far as I know, these two events are still true and both happened within days of each other, raising more than a few eyebrows by their proximity. But fake newsers in the mainstream media are afraid to offend, so their liberal omissions make them less credible than conservatives who report the facts, and let the public draw their own conclusions."
I wrote back to Klingenschmitt and told him that the Podesta email actually referred to a smear campaign against Bernie Sanders, and had nothing to do with an attack on Scalia, according to Snopes.
Still, I wrote to Chaps, I hoped he and I could agree that facts matter, and so I was wondering if he would sign my Fake News Pledge for citizens. See it and sign here.
The pledge, essentially identical to the one for elected officials, relies on mainstream-media fact checkers, like Snopes, as arbiters, but it allows signers to ignore the fact checkers if they disagree with them and explain why.
So in this case, if you signed the Fake News Pledge, I told Chaps, you would not have to take down your Scalia post, even though it's been disproven by Snopes. Instead, I told him he could post an explanation on his Facebook page of why he disagree Snopes--like the one provided me.
"Do you think this is fair?" I asked Chaps. "Will you sign the Fake News Pledge?"
"I try to avoid pledges, but I also try to avoid fake news, so we're on the same page, but I can't sign sorry," he wrote.
So, my investigation identified eight fake-news items, posted on Facebook by five Colorado state legislators, Rep. Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park) and Rep. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), as well as then Representatives Klingenschmitt and Kit Roupe (R-Colorado Springs) and then Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada).
Only Rep. Roupe has deleted the fake news from her Facebook page.