It's been a tough few days for Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas. A giddy speech he made in New Hampshire on Friday led commentators to question his sobriety, and now, the blogosphere is abuzz with the news that he used a fake quote to mock Occupy Wall Street protesters.
I don't know if it can be proved up or not. The young man's name was Jeremy and he was 38 years old, Perry told voters in Concord, N.H. He said, 'We got here at 9 o'clock, and those people' -- this was in Toronto; I think Bay Street is their comparable [Wall Street] -- he said, 'Those bankers that we came to insult, they'd already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o'clock, and when we get ready to leave, you know, they're still in there working. I guess greed just makes you work hard.'
That is more or less what Jeremy said in a Globe and Mail article written by Mark Schatzker: It's weird protesting on Bay Street. You get there at 9 a.m. and the rich bankers who you want to hurl insults at and change their worldview have been at work for two hours already. And then when it's time to go, they're still there. I guess that's why they call them the 1 percent. I mean, who wants to work those kinds of hours? That's the power of greed.
The problem is, Jeremy doesn't exist -- because Schatzker's story was clearly labeled as satire.
Cue the articles ridiculing Perry.
Remember when you had to show your aunt Snopes.com because she kept emailing you forwards with animated angel GIFs about how drinking Coke can kill you? Someone needs to do that for Rick Perry, Elspeth Reeve wrote on The Atlantic Wire.
Give Schatzker credit: he created a Swift-ian piece of satire and it has grown into a stellar hoax without any effort on his part, Nando Di Fino wrote on Mediaite.com. It's kind of funny in that he went as being ammunition for anti-Occupy protesters (as a joke mocking them and their complaints) to ammunition for pro-Occupy folks, showing just how shoddy the research of the angry anti-Jeremy crowd could be.
Schatzker even wrote a follow-up piece from the perspective of the now-infamous Jeremy.
Soon I realized why I didn't have a job. It wasn't for lack of hard work, and it wasn't because some rich capitalist wasn't willing to pay me. It was because I was disincentivized by Canada's high taxes, he wrote. So I hitchhiked south to Texas, a state that knows the value of greed. I got a job picking fruit. ... By lunch I had made more money than I ever had in my life -- nine dollars. I invested it in a Goldman Sachs credit default swap that shorted Greece. Suddenly nine dollars was $900,000.
Jeremy, clever man that he is, re-invested that $900,000 in a plot of land up in the Texas Panhandle, and a very close friend of mine in the state senate was kind enough to change the zoning laws. Now I'm proud to see it's one of the state's fastest-growing garbage dumps/prisons. Life is funny. One week you're part of the 99 percent, the next week you're in the 1 percent. What's the difference? Hard work. And maybe just a little bit of greed. I guess Rick Perry was right.
You can practically hear Schatzker smirking.
Really, even if you missed the satire label, it should have been obvious that the first story was fake. Aside from the quote from Jeremy, there were quotes as ridiculous as, The day after Occupy, I used an ATM and the same old message came up saying you will be charged $1 for this transaction or whatever. But it felt different, somehow. You could tell the ATM felt embarrassed, that it knew it was just another pawn in this charade we call capitalism. I felt sorry for my robot brother.
How does anyone manage to take that seriously?
In fairness, Perry wasn't the only one who fell for it. The conservative blogosphere positively lit up last week with people quoting Jeremy to prove what they'd said all along about Occupy Wall Street protesters being lazy.
He just too perfectly fits their idea of an Occupy Wall Street protester not to be real, Reeve wrote.
Some of those bloggers posted updates once they realized they'd been had. But they made sure to emphasize, as Power Line blogger John Hinderaker did, that the point remains valid -- even after the evidence given for it was gone.
In Perry's case, his son apparently sent him the quote, so he didn't see the full article with the label satire above the headline. It would have been easy for him to do a quick Google search to check the quote's veracity, but I suppose people wanted it to be true so much that they didn't bother, Schatzker said.
It seems Rick Perry -- along with all the other conservatives who pounced on the quote -- missed one of life's important lessons: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Watch the video of his gaffe here: