In the latest hate-crime hoax pinned on supporters of President-elect Donald Trump, an African-American member of a predominantly black church was arrested and charged with setting fire to the church and then scrawling a pro-Trump message on the side of the building last month.
According to The New York Times, 45-year-old Andrew McClinton of Leland, Mississippi, was charged Wednesday with setting fire to the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville on Nov. 1.
In addition to trying to set the structure ablaze, McClinton had also scrawled “Vote Trump” in large letters on the side of the building. He now stands charged with arson of a place of worship in the first degree, which is a felony.
The fire McClinton was alleged to have set was covered breathlessly by the media in the run-up to the election. The New York Times, in an article that was given considerably more space than the eventual news of Mr. McClinton’s arrest, reported on the arson as if the mere nomination of Mr. Trump as the Republican Party’s candidate for president was nothing less than a harbinger of the new Klan.
BREAKING (2): Andrew McClinton is accused of setting fire to an African-American church & spray-painting it with “Vote Trump.” pic.twitter.com/oHq0ztrkIP
— Jenna Jordan (@NewsieJJ) December 21, 2016
“A predominantly African-American church here was badly burned on Tuesday evening, with the words ‘Vote Trump’ spray-painted on the side of the building, an episode that comes amid rising concerns over possible violence in the final days of a polarizing and racially charged presidential race,” The Times wrote.
However, it wasn’t until the 10th paragraph of The Times’ fear-drenched missive that the writers admitted this: “Mississippi’s secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, said Wednesday that he had been in contact with ‘authorities in Greenville’ and the state Highway Patrol about the attack. Those discussions led him to believe that the burning and vandalism were not committed by ‘somebody of a political nature,’ he said.”
“‘The initial work here indicates this is not of a political nature even though there may be something that says ‘Vote Trump’ on the side of the church,’ said Mr. Hosemann, a Republican. ‘So everybody needs to calm down here until we get to the bottom of this.’”
In other words, after nine paragraphs of full-on “Mississippi Burning” paranoia, the writers acknowledged that authorities believed something was very amiss in that narrative. All the news that’s fit to print, indeed. Next time I hear anyone from The Times pontificating about so-called “fake news,” I’m writing the editor demanding their summary termination.
This is hardly the first fake “hate crime” that has been pinned on the supporters of Donald J. Trump. In fact, a thorough omnibus of the hoaxes we’ve seen in the past 60 days would yield a work of a heft on par with “Infinite Jest.”
And yet, even after all this, I doubt this will be the last hate-crime ruse like this we’ll be covering. In fact, I can almost guarantee it.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that McClinton is in the Washington County Detention Center awaiting an initial appearance in court. It was also reported he had previously served eight years in prison on an armed robbery conviction.
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