Conor Friedersdorf has a quote from an old Breitbart.com article from late 2011 that contains an absolutely staggering claim, with no attribution and no evidence whatsoever, a claim so ridiculous and so important that any editor would stop dead in his tracks on reading it and demand that the reporter show him his evidence. This is the claim, which is about LBJ during the 1964 campaign:
Journalists on the campaign trail saw Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. Luckily, by the grace of God, they did not go off. None of this was reported, while newspapers editors worked in overdrive to portray Goldwater as eager to push the button.
How I love that passage. It isn’t just that it appears without attribution, as if the reader should accept such an anecdote without citation. What’s so priceless is that, even in a scenario where it improbably proved to be true, a writer and editor would still have just slipped it into the article as a casual aside, quietly achieving the biggest buried lede in history. Adds the next sentence, “Today, pundits argue that dirty tricks by Carville and Begalia [sic] were something new on the horizon for Democrats and were borrowed from decades of Republican campaigns. But Johnson was a pioneer of the Clinton War Room.” A near nuclear disaster is mentioned not as something to dwell on or condemn, but as incidental example of the actual subjects to be dwelled upon: liberal media bias and how it enables the rotten tricks that those evil Democrats play during political campaigns.
But it’s even worse than that. The claim is absurd on its face. What “plane armed with nuclear weapons” could Johnson ever have been on? Air Force One doesn’t have nuclear weapons to drop, for crying out loud. And it’s not like he rode around on bombers. No one could possibly believe that this is true, yet the author casually drops it in to an article and not one person in charge of the website ever said a word about it. It’s still there in the article to this day. Because reality just doesn’t matter to these people.