The ranting hysterics of the tribal right showed up in an unexpected place today, a supposed news article on the ESPN Outdoors website. Robert Montgomery has been writing about a proposed federal rule on fisheries management since October, but today's installment got picked up by a right-wing PR firm called Special Guests, which email-blasted the article with the subject "FEDS SET TO BAN ALL U.S. FISHING! Says ESPN." The press release said, "The Obama administration is reportedly putting the final touches on an Executive Order to ban all fishing in the United States."
The ESPN article does not go that far, but it does insinuate dire outcomes. It is the fifteenth installment in Montgomery's series, but this one got more attention than most thanks to the PR blast. Soon it was generating complaints to editors, and executive editor Steve Bowman issued this statement: "Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of them -- it was an opinion piece, and should have been clearly labeled as commentary."
Calling it "commentary" is supposed to make us feel better, but what it means is claims in the article can not be substantiated and are likely wrong. Looking over the previous 14 articles, it becomes clear that Montgomery has been writing in the same style all along, starting with the first installment, "Why anglers aren't environmentalists," which begins with the first-person declaration "I'm for a stronger Clean Water Act." Montgomery has been writing commentary throughout his series.
Beyond that, his claims make no sense. The task force recommended that nine regional groups form and adopt fisheries plans appropriate for their region, so decisions like the ones Montgomery and his oft-quoted sources say are being made are at least another year down the road, will be different for each region and will be made through collaborative, public processes yet to begin. Sadly, it has become routine for right-wing groups to hit the most shrill note available and screech it incessantly.
Obama is no more on the verge of banning fishing than he is Kenyan-born or a socialist, but when you can't or won't do the heavy lifting of being honest and informed, insufferable bullshit is an option. Montgomery's shtick is familiar: guilt by association, absence as evidence, and lots and lots of quotes from industry. He tries to create a wedge between anglers and environmentalists, but both groups want clean water and healthy fish. He also warns anglers that they are being lumped in with commercial fishermen, his evidence an alleged absence of language distinguishing the two. The document talks about "commercial fishing" and "recreational fishing" repeatedly, so Montgomery uses the phrase "recreational angling" and draws worrisome conclusions from the fact that this phrase appears nowhere in the document.
That's the quality of propaganda the right is churning out these days: shrill and vacant. Believing outrageous lies is the secret handshake of the Republican Party. Are you a member?