Fox News falls for Monty Python joke in report criticising Seattle protesters
Protesters have occupied the area around a Seattle police station, which it calls the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone: AP
Fox News' coverage of the Seattle protests has had another success after the news organization cited a Reddit Monty Python joke as real to its viewers.
Martha MacCallum, presenter of Fox News' The Story, reported for her viewers on the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, including claims by the cable news broadcaster that there were leadership issues within the organization.
To illustrate this point, Fox News shared a screenshot of a Reddit post entitled "I Didn't Vote For Raz". Raz Simone, a rapper, is the alleged unofficial leader of CHAZ.
"I thought we had an anonymous collective," said Ms. MacCallum, reading the Reddit post. "At least an anarcho-syndicalist community, we should take turns to act as a kind of executive officer for the week."
What Fox News didn't realize was that this post was a joke that played a popular scene from the 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
In the scene, King Arthur approaches two farmers growing mud in the countryside and announces themselves as their king. But Dennis, one of the farmers, informs the stunned king that he and his cohorts have established their own form of government - which leads to a debate about who is actually responsible.
"We take turns to act as a kind of executive officer for the week, but all decisions made by that officer must be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting with a simple majority in the case of purely internal matters, but by a two-thirds majority in purely external matters," says Dennis, an almost literal quote used in the Reddit post.
The Reddit user even went so far as to include the quote later, in which Dennis says the king "cannot just count on exercising supreme executive power simply because someone has thrown a sword at him." This part of the contribution was not read to the audience by Ms. MacCallum, but was shown in the screenshot broadcast.
Although Fox News didn't recognize the joke, people on Twitter did and the moment quickly went viral.
Fox News fell in love with a Monty Python joke about Reddit lmao
10:21 PM - June 13, 2020
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10.1K people talk about it
However, this type of misinformation from Fox News is noteworthy, especially because it is America's most viewed cable news channel. Spreading this misinformation could distort viewers' view of what's actually going on in CHAZ.
Opinions about the police-free occupation vary. The people with the movement overtook several blocks in Seattle last week, including the area surrounding a now deserted police station.
President Donald Trump and Fox News called CHAZ anarchists and claimed they were dealing with Antifia, an extreme right-wing militant group. But the area has actually remained fairly peaceful, turning into a kind of music festival where people camp, drink, and play music for others.
CHAZ was founded as a police-free settlement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the police killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black Americans.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has vowed to protect the settlement's speaking rights, but the crew has sparked talks about whether the area should be dispersed.
Fox News coverage, including the moment when a Monty Python joke was incorrectly cited as a reality, has largely criticized the deal.
The conservative side also had to remove treated images that contained misleading information about CHAZ on Friday after the Seattle Times reported that the photos used were inaccurate.
A spliced picture of an armed man from June 10 at the Seattle protests was combined with two other pictures: one also from June 10 of a sign that reads "You are now entering Free Cap Hill" and another picture that was released on May 30th from a smashed picture was taken shop window.
The Fox News website headlined Seattle as "CRAZY TOWN" while displaying a banner image of a burning city block. The image used actually comes from protests in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Fox News removed the images after the Seattle Times report and published a publisher's note fixing the bugs.
“A photo collage on the FoxNews.com homepage that originally accompanied this story included several scenes from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle and debris after the recent unrest. The collage did not clearly delineate these images and has been replaced since then. In addition, a recent slide show with scenes from Seattle incorrectly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota. Fox News regrets these mistakes, ”the note said.
Fox News declined to comment on the Monty Python error when contacted by The Independent.
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