True story: Fake Georgia lawmaker pushes fake media story

Edgar Welch is arrested outside a Washington pizzeria. AP photo.

Edgar Welch is arrested outside a Washington pizzeria. AP photo.

We’ve reached a new pinnacle in the bizarro world of fake media news.

A fake Georgia congressman – Rep. Steven Smith of the non-existent 15th district – is credited in the New York Times with perpetuating a fake news story about a Washington pizzeria that led to a violent incident.

Edgar Welch, a 28-year-old North Carolina man, is charged with firing a rifle in the Comet Ping Pong restaurant after reading phony stories that its owner was linked to a child trafficking scheme. And despite the widespread debunking of the false story, it seemed to get even more traction after Welch’s arrest.

From the Times:

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been flooded with more attacks against the pizzeria as believers in the child-trafficking conspiracy became more zealous. Within hours of the publication of one of the debunking articles, a post on Twitter by Representative Steven Smith of the 15th District of Georgia — not a real lawmaker and not a real district — warned that what was fake was the information being peddled by the mainstream media. It was retweeted dozens of times.

C’mon folks.

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Charles Bullock, the University of Georgia political scientist, was the breakfast speaker this morning at the biennial gathering of state lawmakers lawmakers on the campus.

His chore was to generate fresh statistics from the November presidential election in Georgia. Bullock came up with one: Exit polls put African-American voter turn-out at 30 percent. (We’ll have a firm number early next year.)

Those same exit polls put white evangelical Christian turnout at 34 percent, who went for Republican Donald Trump, 92 to 5 percent. Which means, Bullock said, the Georgia GOP’s base was larger and more cohesive than the Democratic base.

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As panelists at the legislative biennial led training sessions inside a conference hall, the handful of lawmakers lining up to replace Rep. Tom Price were constantly on the move outside of it.

There was House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones in quiet conversations with one lawmaker or lobbyist after another. So were state Rep. Chuck Martin and state Sen. Judson Hill.

The scuttlebutt changes by the hour, but here’s a rundown:

State Sen. Judson Hill is definitely in. Martin, former state Sen. Dan Moody and ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel are likely in.

State Sen. Brandon Beach is still weighing his options, and could be waiting on a decision by Jones. Some House Republicans expected her to voice her decision at Monday’s caucus meeting, but she made no mention of it.

Some GOP wags urged not to count out state Rep. Betty Price, Tom Price’s wife, who apparently received a phone call from House Speaker Paul Ryan pledging support.

And we’re not sure about state Sen. John Albers or the gaggle of self-styled outsiders, including former Johns Creek Councilwoman Kelly Stewart, at this stage.

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Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson must feel her ears burning. Some Democrats in Athens are buzzing about her as a potential candidate for governor or other statewide office.

She tamped down the talk in a brief statement.

“I’m the full-time Mayor of Columbus and that’s all I think about,” she said. “I appreciate the kind words, but have no such plans.”

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Gwinnett County must offer Spanish language ballots because of a new U.S. Census bureau designation.

Here’s more on what that means.

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Well, this certainly wasn’t a headline we were expecting to see six weeks before Donald Trump gets sworn in as president.

From the Associated Press: “Joe Biden might be running in 2020. . . maybe. . . we think”: 

The departing 74-year-old vice president said it with a slight smile on his face. Given a chance to walk it back, he did — but only a bit.

Biden was chatting with reporters Monday after presiding over the Senate as it cleared away procedural hurdles to a biomedical research bill he’s supporting.

Asked by a reporter whether he would run again, Biden said he would in 2020 — for president.

Asked if he was joking, he said he wasn’t committing to not running.

Biden says, ‘‘I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.’’

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U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is upping the pressure on the new Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture to feature Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas more prominently in its exhibits.

The Pooler Republican introduced a resolution recognizing the historical importance of Thomas, the Pin Point native who became the second African-American to serve on the high court.

This comes a month after Carter and his allies penned an angry letter to the head of the Smithsonian criticizing curators for largely leaving Thomas out of the museum, which opened earlier this fall.

Georgia Republicans Doug Collins and Austin Scott also signed on in support of the resolution, which does not have the force of law. Read more about the controversy here.

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