“Is Pennsylvania Democrat Fetterman’s tattoo ‘I will make you hurt’ based on his ties to the crips gang as reported by the Free Beacon or a reference to the Nine Inch Nails heroin song ‘Hurt.’ Fetterman won’t answer questions.”
— Newt Gingrich, Twitter, 9/26/22
I’m a Republican politician/TV personality, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in the media spotlight, it’s how to walk that thin line between saying things that will get you banned from Twitter and saying things that won’t get you banned from Twitter but should. In fact, I’ve become something of an expert at getting my completely unhinged takes and bad faith arguments out into the television and social media fray without running afoul of FCC regulations or platform policies. And the way I do it is surprisingly simple: it’s not misinformation if you phrase it in the form of a question.
Whether it’s on Twitter, my nightly talk show, or giving a keynote speech at CPAC, my arguments all start with a simple premise: What would happen if a pundit were to phrase all of their unsubstantiated anecdotes, pseudoscientific evidence, and thinly-veiled white supremacist talking points as open-ended, unanswerable questions? Would they be able to get away with spewing the most nonsensical, hate-riddled bile you’ve ever heard simply because it’s phrased as a hypothetical rather than an overt expression of their beliefs? Neither of those is the type of rhetorical question I’m talking about because the answers are “it would be wildly profitable” and “infuriatingly, yes.”
A beautiful thing about the English language is that you can take any declarative sentence, like “Joe Biden is a reptilian humanoid alien sent to Earth to destabilize global politics from the inside so that humanity will be easier to conquer and sell into sex slavery,” and reword it as an interrogative sentence like “Is Joe Biden a reptilian humanoid alien sent to Earth to destabilize global politics from the inside so that humanity will be easier to conquer and sell into sex slavery?” And while the former is clearly false and would get you ostracized from all but the strangest corners of the internet, saying the latter has the same misleading effect but with none of the repercussions. Because, after all, you’re not lying; you’re just asking questions. Questions like:
- Is Senate candidate John Fetterman actually a Frankenstein-like monster created in a lab by Democrats to appeal to blue-collar Pennsylvanians with his rugged, steely looks and affable, folksy charm?
- Is global warming a conspiracy to melt all the snow so white people won’t have any sports left to dominate?
- Are books a liberal plot to teach children essential skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic?
- If a tree falls in the forest, does that mean this country has too many immigrants?
Are any of these things even remotely true? Does it matter whether they’re true or not as long as there’s a question mark at the end of them? Do you see where I’m going with this? Again, not rhetorical (answers: “no,” “not as far as U.S. libel law is concerned,” “a dangerous and harmful direction”).
Think of me as a Jeopardy! contestant if, instead of learning facts about world history and pop culture to earn a spot on the show, the contestant simply wandered past security onto the stage after downing their third bottle of wine. It’s an especially good analogy given that that’s exactly how Brian Kilmeade got the job on Fox & Friends.
As long as my system keeps working, I see no reason to stop asking questions like:
- Are drag brunches the reason 9/11 happened?
- Does the new COVID booster cause testicular torsion?
- Does Hunter Biden’s laptop contain credible evidence linking him to the death of JonBenét Ramsey?
- Do cats know the difference between right and wrong but choose to misbehave anyway?
Every once in a while, you have to sneak something in that the audience knows is true in order to emphasize that all the ludicrous stuff might be true too. (The COVID booster really does cause testicular torsion. Happened to a buddy of mine.)
So if you see me on Newsmax speculating whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is secretly planning to make Puerto Rico an independent country, then invade the mainland U.S. and turn it into a Puerto Rican commonwealth, now you know why. Does that make me a bad person? Is everything I do in the pursuit of fame, money, and power with no regard for the consequences? Am I part of the problem? (Yeses all around.)