WHEN THE RIGHT GOES BEYOND PARODY…. While most of the public reactions to this week’s memorial service in Tucson, even on the right, have been positive, there’s a certain unhinged contingent that’s still searching, desperately, to tear it down.

The problem, of course, is that to justify their whining, these conservatives have been reduced to imaginary outrages. Yesterday’s effort was arguably the dumbest to date.

In a blog post [Saturday], Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft shamelessly claims that the White House conspired to get more applause for President Obama’s memorial speech by “ask[ing] for it” on the Jumbotron. As evidence, Hoft ran a picture from a Flickr account which showed Obama speaking on the Jumbotron accompanied by the words, “school.” and “[APPLAUSE].”

Hoft’s purported instruction for applause is actually the live captioning for the event. It’s the same closed captioning that’s made available for television programs.

This is the kind of head-smacking story that makes one wonder if right-wing bloggers are secretly being paid by liberals to make conservatives look ridiculous.

At one point during his remarks, President Obama noted that Judge John Roll was a “graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school,” an observation that led to audience applause. At that moment, the Jumbotron in the facility, offering captioning for the hearing impaired, featured the words, “school,” followed by “applause” in brackets.

These weren’t stage instructions. This was a running transcript for attendees who couldn’t hear. As Charles Johnson explained, “That’s right. Hoft doesn’t understand that he’s looking at the closed captioning for deaf audience members.”

For added context, let’s also not forget that several other prominent right-wing bloggers thought Jim Hoft had stumbled onto an important observation, and promoted this “scoop” as evidence of White House wrongdoing. They’re all so convinced of nefarious tactics from the president and his team that it never occurred to them to even consider the existence of closed captioning.

I’ve read a lot of far-right sites for many years, and I’m convinced they’re getting worse.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.