Fleming: Facebook in mouth

by Dominick Cross

There are several issues at play here with the news that Louisiana Republican Congressman John Fleming fell for a faux story in the satirical publication The Onion.

According to a host of political blogs and other media outlets, before Louisiana Republican Congressman John Fleming removed The Onion's piece headlined "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex" and his comments, "More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale," from his Facebook page, it had gone nearly viral.

Fleming's opposition to abortion and Planned Parenthood is old news, (psst ... so is The Onion's story; it initially ran May 2011). The Minden physician has voted against federal funding of Planned Parenthood and has spoken out against abortion. So no doubt he was tickled pink with The Onion story and in his zeal self-righteously posted it on his Facebook page.


Anyway, one of the obvious issues here is that for some unknown reason Fleming, one of The Ind's Pooyie! 2011 winners, is not aware that The Onion is but one big spoof on the news. Seems he took the bait verbatim. That is not a good sign considering the Republican is a learned man, a medical doctor, in fact. He is also chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs.

Then again, did the Minden Republican really fall for The Onion's story?

Perhaps Fleming is fully aware of The Onion but chose to use the story to his own ends and causes to fire-up his pro-life base. It wouldn't be the first time in this day of willful content misinformation and incendiary political advertisements that a known inaccuracy was allowed to grow legs to further an ideology.

If that's the case, then Winston Churchill's saying, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," works in Fleming's favor. Let's hope the congressman is one to let the facts get in the way of a good story and comes back with a face-saving explanation for his initial reaction on his Facebook page.

It's a Gotcha moment to be sure but exactly for whom does the joke toll?

Sure, Fleming's blunder put Louisiana politicians in a bad light yet again. It also reflects negatively on Louisiana residents as a whole because the congressman, after all, was voted into office. And to the nation, it doesn't matter whether you voted for him or not; we're all painted with the same brush.

The Onion re-ran its Abortionplex piece to coincide with the hoopla over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's recent defunding (reversed last week) of Planned Parenthood. By the way, Karen Handel, an official with Komen and former Republican candidate for governor of Georgia with a platform that included defunding the Peach State's Planned Parenthood, resigned today in the wake of the fiasco.