The right was pretty worked up over the weekend about something called “Wireless Emergency Alerts.” Far-right blogger Jim Hoft, for example, published this item, which in turn was promoted by Drudge, both on his site and his Twitter feed.
Just in case you want more Obama in your life…
AT&T is loading iPhones with emergency alerts from Barack Obama…
That you can’t switch off.
The unnecessary ellipses, by the way, were in the original.
The story, which has also drawn the attention of Alex Jones, among others, refers to this Engadget piece, which says AT&T “has begun rolling out Wireless Emergency Alerts updates for iPhone 4S and 5…. Once installed, AMBER and Emergency alerts are automatically sent to your phone unless you switch them off via Settings. However, should you be tired of Obama, just know that there’s no way to switch off Presidential alerts.”
Now, as you might have guessed, these “presidential alerts” are really just part of a national system to let the public know about natural disasters and related emergencies. It’s not like the administration will start texting you about immigration reform against your will.
But there’s another angle to this that the right overlooked. Steve M. flagged this item from the FCC on why the public can’t block the government’s Wireless Emergency Alerts. “In passing the WARN Act,” the FCC explained, “Congress allowed participating carriers to offer subscribers the capability to block all WEAs except those issued by the President.”
And what kind of big-government socialists passed the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act? Funny story: it was approved in 2006 by a Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican White House. As Steve M. concluded, “So, yeah, this is more Obama fascism that was actually a Bush-era idea.”
We’ve pretty much reached the point at which it’s safe to assume that if the far-right is freaking out about a story, it’s probably not what it seems to be.