EPA Drone Rumors Get Halfway Around World While Truth Is Putting on Its Shoes

A drone flies into an Air Force base in Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Apparently, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of killing jobs and destroying American freedoms isn't enough for some Republicans. Now they're saying the EPA is using "drones" to "spy on" Midwestern farmers.

In early June, after the right-wing web started buzzing with "reports" of drone surveillance of Nebraska and Iowa cattle farmers, Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing concerns about the legality of the program. Other lawmakers jumped aboard the bandwagon: "The Obama Administration has, once again, stepped way over the line," said a Montana congressman in a release.

But, as the Washington Post reported over the weekend, the EPA isn't using drones – not in the Midwest, not anywhere.

What is true is that the agency, perfectly legally, sends EPA inspectors up in in small planes to look out for clean-water violations like dirty runoff. Out of this the conservative echo chamber (from obscure tweeters to The Daily Caller and Fox News) spun a feverish tale of Big Government run amok, in a textbook example of "the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood."

But, as Mark Twain said, "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." And so, says the Post, The Daily Caller's piece correcting its earlier false report got just a handful of Tweets and "Likes" on Facebook, whereas its original item on EPA drone-spying got hundreds.

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