Fact Checking Educating Liberals aka Dylan Wheeler
I recently completed an 8 month investigation into Educating Liberals (@Education4Libs) aka Dylan Wheeler. Wheeler is an alt-right author and commentator on Twitter with 363K followers who has called the Parkland shooting survivors “crisis actors” multiple times and promotes a range of conspiracy theories. My investigation included a section fact-checking Wheeler in which I fact checked a month worth of his Tweets (as well as a couple tweets from February). However, the fact-check is buried deep within the other blog post so I have decided to include it as a stand alone piece here too.
Fact Check, Fact Check, Fact Check, Fake News.
Wheeler claims that he has only ever had to make two retractions and that “when we make tweets we’re not just talking out of our asses, we’re researching everything, fact check, fact check, fact check, multiple sources.” Although we believe Wheeler is correct in asserting that he has only made two retractions, it is also true that he has tweeted out falsehoods and fake news on numerous other occasions. A lot of these are worthy of a retraction, correction, or clarification. We will include a (by no means exhaustive) list below, but first, we will briefly detail the two retractions.
No one can have a perfect factual record, and we are happy to hear that Wheeler has a policy of issuing retractions. We support transparency - what we take issue with is Wheeler being inconsistent, misleading, and promoting numerous falsehoods.
In the wake of the tragic Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland Florida in 2018, Wheeler tweeted out:
“The shooter was a registered Democrat and member of Antifa. Why does this not shock me at all? Maybe because you have to be a total piece of to belong to either of those groups. Rot in hell, loser.”
In case anyone is forgetting, the shooter was not a member of Antifa, nor a Democrat. In fact, he was a MAGA hat wearing psychopath. Wheeler retracted the statement one day later.
The second retraction came after Wheeler tweeted, “Adam Schiff’s sister was married to George Soros’ son, Robert until just a couple of years ago. Easy to research that fact.” Unfortunately, the fact was also untrue which Wheeler acknowledged a day later tweeting:
“Correction. Adam Schiff’s sister is NOT married to George Soros’ son, Robert. Robert is married to a Melissa Schiff, but she is unrelated to Adam. I was fooled by false information, but wanted to make sure I corrected it. I have zero tolerance for fake news.”
Describing the Parkland retraction, Wheeler explained, “I was more interested in like getting on a topic while it’s hot about something rather than letting the facts come out.”
For a man who professes a zero-tolerance approach to fake news, Wheeler seems almost purposefully gullible.
On October 29th Wheeler tweeted: “Mass Shootings. Reagan - 31 Bush Sr - 18 Clinton - 54 Bush Jr - 49 Obama - 132 Trump - 39 It seems pretty obvious who the problem started with. Now tell me again why we should have stricter gun control?”
As is a pattern Wheeler does not provide a source for this claim which makes fact checking it more difficult. I tried to find his original source but failed so I had to find my own source which ended up being an open source compilation by Mother Jones of mass shootings/shootings spree’s in the USA from 1982-2018. These are the figures I gathered from them
Reagan - 8 (missing one year)
Bush Sr - 6
Clinton - 16
Bush Jr - 12
Obama - 40
Trump - 20
As you can see they are more than a little bit different to Wheeler’s figures. Although the most mass shootings occurred while Obama was president Trump currently has the second most mass shootings and still has 2-6 years to go before his term is over so that figure may still rise.
On October 26th Wheeler tweeted: “BREAKING NEWS. The Bomber has been identified as Cesar Sayoc. He is 56 years old & lives in Aventura, FL. And he is affiliated to the DEMOCRATIC Party. Damn, I hate when I’m right.” That tweet did not age well as the depth of the bombers support for Trump became increasingly apparent.
Earlier on October 24th and 25th Wheeler had tweeted: “The Democrats send themselves bombs in the mail & everybody loses their minds. The Democrats try to poison the Republicans with ricin & nobody bats an eye. Crazy times we live in” and “BREAKING NEWS. The return address on the suspicious packages that were sent to Obama, Soros, & Hillary has been connected to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. This is that false flag I warned people about over a month ago. The Democrats are trying to frame the Republicans.” Shultz’s address was likely added by the bomber either so that Shultz would receive any mislabeled packages or to make the person opening the packages less suspicious. Either way the person who sent the bombs was certainly no Democrat.
Instead of debunking this point further, I’ll just leave you with Twitter user Kilgore Trout’s reaction to a similar tweet, “lol my dudebro here is tweeting this with the all caps BREAKING because he actually thinks maybe there’s a chance debbie wasserman-schultz PUT HER RETURN ADDRESS ON FUCKING MAILBOMBS.”
On the 19th of October 2018 Wheeler tweeted: “Elon Musk has offered to buy & then delete Facebook. This man is my new hero. How can I help?” This tweet is repeating fake news created by a satirical news site. Even if Musk wanted to buy Facebook he couldn’t, it’s worth 23x more than his net worth.
As Voltaire once said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Which brings us to the 22nd of October when Wheeler tweeted: “The mass caravan has swelled to 14,000 people. Good Lord this is ridiculous. Like or RT if you are in favor of our military using deadly force if necessary to defend this nation from enemies BOTH foreign & domestic.”
That tweet is a clear dog-whistle. The US military already does have the ability to use deadly force to defend America from threats. What Wheeler is really doing is asking a government he once hated to kill those he fears. The fact that he stated the military should kill enemies within the country is equally terrifying although it’s also ironic as in 2013 Wheeler tweeted that we are “living in a pre-nazi Germany state right now and nobody knows it because they are fast asleep.” Little did he know that just five years later he would be the one calling for a police state in which the army eliminated those deemed to be enemies of the state.
On October 14th 2018, Wheeler tweeted: “WikiLeaks says Hillary Clinton will go “down” by October 21st. Fun fact. WikiLeaks has NEVER had to retract a statement for “fake news.” Once again this is fake news that did the rounds on rightwing conspiracy sites this month. Wikileaks has never released a statement saying this and October 21st has come and gone. This particular piece of fake news dates back to 2016 when an identical story was circulated in the same corners of the internet. As the Above Top Secret Blog wrote: “If Clinton was guilty of treason and WikiLeaks had proof, they'd just release it not give some ultimatum about indicting her for mishandling classified information.”
Also on October 14th, Wheeler tweeted: “Chelsea Clinton says that she is more beautiful & educated than Ivanka Trump. What the hell is she smoking?” As it turns out Chelsea Clinton never said either of those things. However it is just objectively true that she is more educated than Ivanka Trump with a bachelor's degree, two masters, and doctorate under her belt compared to Ivanka Trump's single bachelor's degree. Whether the number of educational titles means someone is a better person or better equipped to engage in politics, etc.… is an entirely different discussion that is beyond the scope of this post.
Wheeler rarely lets the truth trump his desire for likes and retweets. For example, on February 24th, he tweeted, “Students in Louisiana thought this symbol [√] looked like a gun so they called the police. I kid you not. Liberals are now coming for our weapons of math instruction!!!!!”
If he had spent more than zero time fact-checking this claim, he would have found that the story is far more complex than he let on. As a contemporaneous news report explained.
[Two] students were working together, and a student made a math symbol of a square root sign, which kind of looks like a pistol. And he was helping a weaker student, and the student says, 'Well, that looks like a pistol!' And he just made a comment [like] 'let's just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol,” said Superintendent Doucet.
Gossip turned it into a rumor about the student plotting to carry out a mass shooting at Oberlin High School. The rumor warranted a search of the student's home for guns.
"He did not commit a crime. He did not commit anything remotely criminal, nothing to remotely suggest any intent to do actual harm,” said Hebert.
Not only is Wheelers tweet misleading in regards to the overall story, there is also no indication in any of the news reports that anyone involved in the story is a liberal. In fact, the school is in a county that went to Trump with 74.3% of the vote, hardly a Democrat stronghold.
More recently on October 17th 2018, Wheeler tweeted: “America is BACK. We now have the world’s most competitive economy - the first time holding that title since 2008! Which was also the year we elected Barack Obama.”
That is misleading for a couple reasons, most importantly that the criteria used to evaluate economic competitiveness was overhauled for 2018 changing 66% of the measures used to evaluate it. When the numbers for 2017 were redone, they also showed the US on top. Additionally:
Roughly 70% of the weighting in the index (slightly less of the actual number of indicators) originates from data supplied by international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank or the International Telecommunications Union. There is typically a 2-3 year lag between measurement and publication.
In case anyone has forgotten Trump wasn’t even in office two years ago. To avoid any accusations of bias, it’s also worth noting that some of the successful measures predate even the Obama administration. It’s also worth noting that there was a global financial crisis in 2008. Oh and just for fun, it’s worth noting what the organisation that prepares the report says about 2019:
2019’s Global Competitiveness Index could look a lot different if a number of the warning signs we perceive about America become exacerbated, for example, changes in trade tariffs, falling confidence in the independence of the judiciary, growing income inequality or a more difficult environment for hiring skilled foreign talent.
On October 8th, Wheeler tweeted “Want to know why kids misbehave these days? It’s simple. Because their parents don’t whip their asses anymore.”
This is misleading. It is true to say that there has been a general downward trend in parents who approve of spanking since 1986. However, since Wheeler’s birth in 1992, the number of males who believe it is sometimes necessary to spank children has stayed relatively consistent, while the number of females who say the same has only marginally decreased. Nevertheless, even that misses the point.
The science around spanking is fairly clear and many experts agree that spanking does not work. A large 2016 meta-analysis (PDF) found “Thirteen of 17 mean effect sizes were significantly different from zero and all indicated a link between spanking and increased risk for detrimental child outcomes.” Either way, even skeptics of that paper agree that “it’s irresponsible to make exclusive statements one way or another.”
On October 6th, Wheeler tweeted: “A Minnesota TV reporter was fired for wearing a MAGA hat. How ridiculous is that? I bet if he was wearing a democratic pin or something, he would have received a raise.”
It’s worth making clear that the reporter was wearing the hat while reporting, which was against his stations policy. As Buzzfeed news reported:
“He violated our policy so he’s no longer with us,” Noel Sederstrom, news director for KTTC, told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t allow our people to wear campaign clothing while on assignment.”
Prohibiting reporters from wearing campaign clothing or pins, especially while on the job, is standard practice across the news industry. Many news outlets also recommend or warn their staff against making public political displays or statements in order to maintain objectivity. But on his social media accounts, Bunner was vocal about his political leanings. He once added an NRA banner to his profile picture. And in another post, he wrote, “You watch CNN to oogle Brooke, Kate, Erin, Brianna, Sunlen, and Poppy. Not for journalistic integrity.”
Clearly his support of Trump was not the issue, it was his breaking of company policy.
On October 3rd, Wheeler tweeted: “Bill Clinton says Judge Kavanaugh is a “threat” to our country & a “disgrace” to women. Seriously? This is coming from a man who was IMPEACHED for getting a blow job in the Oval Office & lying about it.”
While I think there are many reasons to criticise Bill Clinton, it is worth noting that the Senate found him innocent on both his count for obstruction of justice and of lying.
A Casual Disregard for Violence
On October 26th, Wheeler tweeted “BREAKING NEWS. A “suspicious” package has been found addressed to Cory Booker. How sad. Spartacus didn’t make the kickball team & is looking for attention.” The suspicious package turned out to be a viable bomb.
Many of Wheeler's conspiratorial beliefs have been discussed elsewhere, but I will provider a fuller list here. This list is not exhaustive but it provides evidence for the facts that:
Is a firm believer in false flag attacks. 1
Believes that Barack Obama forged his birth certificate. 1.
Believes Michelle Obama to be a man. 1.
Believes or believed that the Daesh/ISIL execution were fake and orchestrated by the CIA. 1.
Appears to believe in chemtrails. 1
Once wrote “Legally we do not have 2 pay our income taxes. Find any good lawyer & they will tell u that. Our govt & the IRS are just money hungry jerks.”
One of his man made climate change denial tweets from December 2017 reads:
“70's - The new ice age. 80's - Acid rain. 90's - Ozone depletion. 2000's - Global warming. Then they had to change it to climate change because global warming was such an obvious lie. That’s 40 years of being completely wrong in the name of fear-mongering for power and money.”
Twitter user @Brianfeist offered an excellent rebuttal to that saying:
Sometimes science makes mistakes, that's how we learn. 80s we definitely had acid rain. Through the work of groups like the EPA we were able to stop it. 90s there was definitely a hole in the ozone layer. Through global action we were able to stop it and reverse the damage. Climate change is very real and happening at an alarming rate. Look at the horrible hurricane season we had or the fires or the extreme cold. Are of these things show climate change is very real. The people making money off of lies is the Koch brothers and their friends.
In conclusion Dylan Wheeler is a conspiratorial and fake news spreading conservative propagandist who has posted at least 13 pieces of fake or misleading news in October of this year alone. Wheeler does not traffic in lies, he traffics in bullshit which the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt described as “a greater enemy of the truth than lies are” all the way back in 2005.
For a more full conclusion please check out our main investigation into Wheeler and his Twitter career: https://www.theseventhdegree.net/news/2018/10/28/the-troubled-life-of-twitters-rising-king-of-bullshit-revealing-the-true-story-of-the-man-and-falsehoods-behind-a-major-right-wing-propaganda-account