There’s an old story from the early 20th century Russian empire. It goes something like this: A man on the street yells, “Nikolay is a moron!” A police officer hears this, and thinking that the guy is referring to the Tzar, Nicholas II, the cop arrests the man. The guy protests: “No, officer, I didn’t mean our respected Tzar, but another Nikolay.” And then the cop responds, “Don’t try to trick me. If you say, ‘moron,’ you are obviously referring to our Tzar.”
Who knows whether that story is true or not; it’s on Wikipedia, so it’s probably made up. Whatever the case, it does reveal a fundamental truth about thugs and autocrats, which is that the more authoritarian they become, the more amusing they often are, if only unintentionally. They just can’t help themselves. And of course, we’re seeing that today, pretty much everywhere we look. One of the ironies of the death of humor on the Left is that, without realizing it, leftists have suddenly become some of the funniest people on the planet.
Case in point, I recently opened my email and found a message from someone named Jack Brewster. Jack said he works for a company called NewsGuard, which says it applies “…various metrics of credibility and transparency” to news organizations and podcasts, so that, “…consumers, advertisers, researchers, and others can make more informed decisions about which media they choose to consume and support.”
It’s all very serious stuff that we absolutely need shadowy organizations with Orwellian names like “NewsGuard” to handle for us — there’s no chance that people can come to informed conclusions about media outlets and podcasts on their own. We need Jack Brewster there to guide us. To that end, Jack Brewster (who happens to be a former operative for the Democratic Party) provided a series of questions for me, and demanded that I reply to them so that he can rank my show poorly and get me censored on social media.
I’ll get into NewsGuard’s real mission and the full text of Jack Brewster’s email later on, but I’m not going to bury the lead here. Here’s the precise question from my new friend Jack that truly is the single best paragraph I’ve ever read in my email inbox, which maybe isn’t saying much, but it’s true. It brought joy to my day, and I want to spread that joy to you. So here it is, the totally earnest question from fact-checking savant Jack Brewster.
Jack wrote: “The Aug. 24, 2023, episode of ‘The Matt Walsh Show’ featured a bonus special segment in which Walsh stated: ‘Michelle Obama is a man. … I am increasingly convinced there’s some validity out there. No, I really am. Look, some people have looked into this…’ Shapiro interjected to say, ‘For God’s sake, Matt. You’re the only one in America who knows that women can’t be men. Stop it.’ Walsh replied, ‘I don’t know. Look, and some information has come out about [former President Barack] Obama recently that also confirms what we were told was once a conspiracy theory…’ Shapiro interjected again to say, ‘He [Barack Obama] did like dudes. He did like dudes. That is a thing he wrote…which is a weird thing to write to a girlfriend, by the way.” Walsh later asked, “Why are we dodging this question [about Michelle Obama’s gender]?” to which Klavan responded, “Yeah, Michelle is obviously a man.” Shapiro replied, “Oh God, guys. Please stop. She is not a man. She’s a woman… a very bad woman by the way.’”
Then Jack, smelling the Pulitzer, asks me the money question: “Why did Walsh and Klavan claim that Michelle Obama is a man?’”
Now, I’m not going to get into the various high-quality sources I was relying on when I made my remarks, which were obviously serious in every possible respect. I’m not going to talk about how Michelle Obama conspicuously doesn’t list her pronouns in her Twitter bio, even though most prominent Democrats, including AOC and Pete Buttigieg, are proudly doing so. I’m not going to talk about broad shoulders or deep voices or a weird lack of baby pictures or anything like that. I’m certainly not going to show you the footage of Ted Nugent’s infamous discussion with Kyle Rittenhouse from back in April, where he outlines some of his own observations on the topic. And I deeply hope that you don’t look up that footage for yourself, which you can find on YouTube or Twitter. None of that is the point here.
Instead, I’m going to do what NewsGuard desperately doesn’t want me to do, which is to provide some context. First of all, Jack at NewsGuard immediately gets a couple of obvious facts wrong. For one thing, I didn’t make these comments about Michelle Obama on my show, or a special edition of my show. I made the comments on a Daily Wire “Backstage.” And that Backstage took place on August 23rd, which was debate night, and not August 24th, as the fact-check guy claimed. So NewsGuard is obviously a shoddy organization that doesn’t actually care about accuracy.
So we’re playing a game where you’re supposed to answer these funny questions. It’s not supposed to be an inquisition where everyone has to rigorously fact-check and cross-reference all of their statements and provide citations. That’s pretty obvious if you’re watching that clip and you don’t suffer from any debilitating disorders that affect your ability to perceive humor or sarcasm. I can only imagine what it must be like to have Jack Brewster over to your house for game night. You’re all playing Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity or something like that and Jack is sitting in the corner, by himself, sipping his La Croix, issuing fact checks. “Uh excuse me, I have rated your answer misleading. It lacks important context. I have also reported you to the FBI.”
I’m actually a bit disappointed that Jack didn’t go further with this fact-check. For one thing, Michael Knowles begins the segment by stating that he’s the “Most popular game show host in America.” That is obviously a statement in need of scrutiny. Then Knowles goes on to say that some dishonest hack from Media Matters is probably going to clip our responses to this game, take them out of context, and pretend to take us literally, when we’re obviously just messing around on a boring debate night. Jack should have fact-checked him there and pointed out that in fact a dishonest hack from Media Matters did not take us out of context. Instead, a dishonest hack from NewsGuard did.
Now to be fair, Jack raised a few other pointed questions too. For example, he writes: “During the Sept. 14, 2023, episode, Walsh stated: ‘There are no clinical trials or studies that demonstrate that it’s safe or necessary in any way to give Covid shots to six-month-old children. Not a single one, not a single study.’ However, multiple studies — including this study in Pediatrics and this study in the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that it’s safe to give COVID-19 shots to children ages 6 months old. Should Walsh have noted such studies instead of making such a broad claim?”
This is an example of spreading misinformation while claiming to combat it. Neither one of the studies that Brewster cites actually prove his assertion that the COVID shot is safe or necessary for six-month-old children. The first study, from the journal Pediatrics, isn’t really a study at all. It’s a “Research brief.” Here’s what it says: “We may have underestimated or missed potential safety concerns if the biologically plausible risk interval for an outcome differed from our specified risk interval.”
The researchers say their analysis is early and therefore has “reduced statistical power.” The second study, from the New England Journal of Medicine, also acknowledges that “…wider-scale use of the vaccine in children after authorization may identify other less frequent or more serious adverse events, and continued monitoring of safety after emergency use authorization is ongoing.”