Maine school libraries are stocking a children’s graphic novel meant to teach “news literacy” that contains thinly veiled allusions to COVID-19, Donald Trump, and passages meant to persuade children not to trust their families over the corporate news media.
The graphic novel, “Killer Underwear Invasion: How to spot fake news, disinformation & conspiracy theories,” is by Canadian author and illustrator Elise Gravel.
The book is one of many recommended by the National Literacy Project, a nonprofit that has partnered with the Maine Department of Education to help teach Maine students which sources of information are trustworthy.
In partnership with several of the largest corporate media brands in America, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and the New York Times, the NLP and “Killer Underwear Invasion” are both aimed at teaching kids to only trust information that comes from the largest corporate media brands.
Gravel’s book includes chapter headings such as “What is Fake News,” “Why Do People Make up ‘News’,” “Why is Disinformation Such a Bad Thing,” “What Happens When Fake News Blows Up,” “Why Do We Believe Fake News,” and “How to Tell Real News From Fake News.”
In one of the book’s not-so-subtle passages related to medical disinformation, a cartoon character relies on information found online instead of the expert opinion of doctors and scientists.
The jelly bean-shaped character “Galbinus” publishes a blog calling into question claims made by doctors, which ends up putting his readers’ health at risk.
The parallel to COVID-19 is obvious.
If one switches out the word “shampoo” with hydroxychloroquine, or Ivermectin, the message becomes clear: trust the pro-mRNA vaccine scientists and doctors you see on television; don’t trust people like Dr. Meryl Nass, Robert Malone, or Peter McCullough.
In a similar passage, one character watches “Wolf News” — ha, ha, get it? — and is being told about the dangers and evils of toothpaste — alongside an image that bares a curious resemblance to a syringe.
The book even attempts to persuade the reader that they should not trust their own families over the corporate media or the experts they see on television.
After Distancing yourself from your family, you should trust journalists, reporters, fact-checkers, and experts from the corporate news media, says Gravel’s book, because “Reporters report facts.”
Reporters and experts always cite their sources, of course, says “Killer Underwear Invasion,” and they always know what they’re talking about — which everyone learned during the so-called experts’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When a majority of experts and scientists agree on a topic, there’s a good chance that they’re right,” the book states, presenting a statistic that 98 percent of scientists say climate change is real as an example.
Ironically, the author does not cite a source for this statistic.
“Some people start to believe that secret groups in the government and the news media are working together to make the politician look bad. This is called a conspiracy theory,” Gravel’s narrator states at another point in the book.
If the author means to refer to Donald Trump as the politician in this case, then she appears unaware that the Durham report confirmed that operatives from the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign colluded with the FBI and various news outlets to run a smear campaign against Trump.
In other words, not a conspiracy theory after all.
The comic below this statement says people mostly believe “fake news” because “they are scared.”
In case you think the book is not actually referencing Trump, below is another panel where an orange jelly bean-shaped character with blonde hair is screaming about “fake news” — a little heavy-handed.
The comic even references spending an absurd amount of money on a haircut, a story Trump was hit by the New York Times for in 2020.
The message of these panels seems to be to trust the “reliable news media” to report factual information — the same reliable news media that reported on the thoroughly debunked Trump-Russia collusion for years and years, and the same media that called the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop reporting Russian disinformation in 2020.
Here is a list of just some of the many Maine schools which have “Killer Underwear Invasion” on their library shelves:
- Amanda C. Rowe Elementary School, Portland
- East End Community School, Portland
- King Middle School, Portland
- Lincoln Middle School, Portland
- Sea Road School, Kennebunk
- Farwell Elementary School, Lewiston
- Lewiston High School, Lewiston
- Margaret Chase Smith Elementary School, Sanford
- Sanford Middle School, Sanford
- Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, Brunswick
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), awarded “Killer Underwear Invasion” a spot on it’s 2023 Notable Children’s Books.
Julie Williams, a librarian at the Sanford Middle School Library, sits on the ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee.
The broader push for “news literacy” education in Maine schools may originate with the national nonprofit organization the News Literacy Project (NLP), which has ties to the Maine Department of Education, and has endorsed “Killer Underwear Invasion.”
The Washington D.C.-based NLP describes itself as a nonpartisan education nonprofit with the goal of educating people to better determine the credibility of news and other information and to recognize the standards of fact-based journalism.
The organization began a four-year education plan in 2022, stating that they plan to mobilize educators, students, and the public to “collectively push back against misinformation in all its forms,” with a goal of establishing new media literacy requirements for students in states that do not yet have them.
“This work will move us much closer to changing cultural attitudes toward mis- and disinformation, mirroring previous successful public education efforts that targeted smoking, drunken driving and littering. Our goal is to build a more news- literate nation, and in turn, a more robust, equitable democracy,” the NLP states.
The NLP is partnered with ABC News, Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, The New York Times, NBC News, Reuters, NPR, The Washington Post, Vox, Politico, ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal, and almost all the remaining networks and outlets of the corporate media establishment.
In 2020, the Maine Department of Education hosted a workshop on news literacy for educators led by the NLP’s Director of Education John Silva.
Silva, who believes the Second Amendment should be repealed, gave an more than hour-long presentation to the MDOE on news literacy education for children, which included efforts to debunk riots in the U.S. being funded by George Soros and the Ku Klux Klan being founded by members of the Democratic Party.