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Tom Emmer’s questionable Facebook posts

If you live in the St. Cloud area, you are part of Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, a gerrymander-shaped crescent that extends from the Wisconsin border east of St. Paul, up to St. Cloud and beyond, and then down around the west side of Minneapolis to Shakopee.

Our representative in Washington, DC is Tom Emmer, and if you’re not already following him on Facebook, I highly recommend you do so.

His messages are fascinating. Emmer has a penchant for showing an astonishing lack of understanding of how things work. For example, in one of his latest posts, President Biden is held responsible for our current gasoline prices, while anyone with an ounce of economics training knows that the oil companies control that market and give themselves record high profits and compensation. Moreover, fuel prices were at least 20% higher in 2012. Thank you, President Biden!

Even more worrying, however, are the sources Emmer uses to substantiate his opinion.

Here are some of the resources he’s used so far this month:

Free Beacon, a conservative publication backed by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, is known for funding research and then reporting on it, a journalistic ethics no-no. Free Beacon was deemed “decadent and unethical”.

The New York Post, a tabloid owned by Murdoch. The Columbia Journalism Review (of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism) reported that the Post “is no longer merely a journalistic problem, but a social problem, a force for evil.” Pace University rated it “least credible in New York” with a 44% not credible rating in its reporting.

The Washington Examiner, a weekly tabloid specializing in anti-immigration articles and reports skeptical of climate change.

The Washington Times, a tabloid of the Unification Church (Moonies), known for articles that contradict scientific evidence, promote conspiracy theories, and publish revisionist history.

Alpha News, a publication that suspiciously misses a lot of by-lines, is a clear journalistic red flag, and is known for publishing “baseless conspiracy theories, Islamophobic rhetoric and fake data with questionable sources, low credibility and a far-right bias.”

And finally Breitbart. ‘Woman-unfriendly, xenophobic and racist.’ Breitbart is known for its specialization in conspiracy theories and deliberately misleading stories. Breitbart’s content is among the most shared on Facebook, and it has a management team dedicated to “promoting and marketing ideas from neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups and individuals.”

Emmer does not always use these vague sources. He recently posted a public radio article lamenting the loss of several small town newspapers in Minnesota. He followed up with a FOX News article claiming that public radio has one-sided reporting and a blatantly biased newsroom. It’s almost as if he doesn’t understand the irony.

This becomes even clearer when you compare his litany of complaints on Facebook to his voting record: complaining about America’s decline, voting against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue plan, complaining about high prices, and voting against reducing inflation. Act, complains about crime, but votes against ban on assault weapons.

Emmer’s FB page isn’t as tiring as it sounds. He peppers the inflammatory right-wing rhetoric with photos of him cheering law enforcement officers, athletes, small business owners and farmers, clearly intended to convince us that he is in touch with the ordinary people of the District.

It’s almost as if we’re expected to focus on the happy, happy photos of the man and not pay attention to the manipulation and deceitful sources behind the curtain. This is Minnesota, Rep. Emmer, not Oz.

– Karen Cyson, a member of the Times Writers Group, is a child care provider in Stearns County and a coordinator for Mensa of Central Minnesota. Her column appears on the third Sunday of the month.