Such is the case with the local nativist group Remember 1986 — 1986 being the year then-President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In a November 6 post to its Facebook page and its website, the group tried to fan the flames of a persistent right-wing shibboleth that illegal immigrants voting in U.S. elections is actually a legitimate concern.
It did this by posting an undated article from the far-right faux-news site, "The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense" (at thelastlineofdefense.org), with the title:"Van Full Of Illegals Shows Up To Vote Clinton At SIX Polling Places, Still Think Voter Fraud Is A Myth?"
The Resistance article claims Phoenix's Fox 10 News reported that nine illegal immigrants being hauled around in a white van were able to vote at six locations in Pinal and Maricopa counties using fake IDs.
In the piece, the author, who goes by the handle "Freedom," writes that the illegal aliens' outlaw voting binge ended in Maricopa County, "where a Sheriff was waiting" and arrested them, charging the nine with voter fraud.
For the record, when contacted today via e-mail about the claim, MCSO spokesman Doug Matteson replied by stating emphatically, "We have made no voter-fraud arrests."
Sneakily, the Resistance piece offers a link to Fox 10's general news site, but not to any specific article. New Times contacted Fox 10's newsroom. The staffer who answered the phone was aware of the fake news story but was not sure if the station was going to make a statement about it. New Times left messages for the news director and his deputy, but has yet to receive a reply.
Snopes.com, a website dedicated to debunking urban legends and the like, was the first to point out that the story was about as real as 72-year-old ex-governor Jan Brewer's dye job. Writer Brooke Binkowski observed that the photo accompanying the tall tale was used earlier this year for a fake story posted by a different right-wing blog about the federal government secretly moving and releasing groups of illegal aliens into the country.
Binkowski also noted thelastlineofdefense.org's disclaimer at the bottom of the site's "About Us" page, which reads:
DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney.That phrase "facts that don't necessarily exist" could be the motto for this year's presidential election. And supporters of Donald Trump, in particular, seem unrestrained by the truth.
To this point, numerous right-wing outlets have reported that during a recent interview with actress Gina Rodriguez on the Latino-centric YouTube channel We Are Mitu, President Obama encouraged illegal immigrants to vote.
Some outlets deceptively edited the original video to make it seem as if Obama was saying that undocumented residents should vote. But if you take the time to listen to the entire interview, that is clearly not the case.
Similarly, after California Governor Jerry Brown signed his state's new moter-voter law in 2015, which automatically registers eligible voters when they apply for a driver's license at a local Department of Motor Vehicles' office, right-wing sites and Fox News portrayed the statute as allowing illegal aliens to vote, another claim Snopes.com proved false.
All of which calls to mind a lyric from an old Simon & Garfunkel tune: "[A] man hears what he wants to hear/And disregards the rest."
Truer now than when it was written.