Fake News … Not New!

fake news1

These days, everybody and his friend is yipping about fake news as if millennials invented it last Tuesday, and … OMG! Ain’t it awful?  Well, here’s a real news flash!  There’s always been fake news, and this current crop of journalists and their Internet Overlords (If it isn’t trending on Twitter, it didn’t happen.) are just the latest incarnation.  I’m pretty certain some of the hieroglyphic accomplishments of the Pharaohs are embellishments, and we know for a fact that more than a few of the stories Herodotus (the Father of History) told were not necessarily factual.  The thing is Herodotus knew what every journalist since, discovers: the truth is a moveable feast.   Let me demonstrate.  Here are two sentences that say the same thing – except they don’t.

After extensive public dialogue, Mayor Quimby and his supporters have stepped up to tackle the homeless crisis in our city.

Bowing to extensive public pressure, Mayor Quimby and his cronies have finally stepped up to do something about the homeless problem that plagues our city.

See what I mean?

Two of the greatest purveyors of less-than-the-truth journalism were the 19th century dynamic duo of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.  They fought it out in 1890s New York to see who could grab the most readers (read “followers”) with clickbait headlines and salacious stories that would make BuzzFeed blush.  These two crazy kids were so good at manipulating public perception that Joe is now considered the Father of Modern Journalism (Yeah, he’s the guy the award is named after.) and Willie started a war.

But the Big Kahuna of fake news is Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches.)  This little ditty was published in 1487, just about the time Gutenberg’s printing press was radically changing European society (think: early Renaissance Internet.)  It was written to raise public awareness about the presence of witches in the world and offered some proactive advice on how to deal with them – notably, burning them alive.  However, it was just one clergyman’s (read: “influencer’s”) personal opinion, and it had no basis in fact or even the religious doctrines of the time.  It was disavowed by every authority on the planet from Martin Luther to the Pope (Even the Inquisition said it was hogwash!) but, unfortunately, the public fell in love with it.  Then, as the Reformation gathered steam and European society broke into two conflicting camps, Malleus Maleficarum became the go-to text to beat the other side with.  In those days, labelling someone a witch immediately discredited them and anything they had to say.  (Ring any contemporary bells?)  It was a bestseller for over 200 years, second only to the Bible, and was considered unassailable truth until the Enlightenment came along and said, “WTF were we thinking?”  Even today, many people believe in demonic possession and tons more believe that witchcraft is some ancient pagan religion.  (BTW, Wicca is no more an ancient religion than I am.  It was made up by a retired British civil servant, Gerald Gardner, in the 1950s.)

Yes, in the 21st century, fake news is serious, not because it’s there (It’s always been there) but because gullible people have immediate Internet access to other gullible people all over the world.  The problem is, back in the time of Herodotus, or even Joe Pulitzer, stupidity was a retail commodity, confined by geography.  These days, geography doesn’t matter, and stupidity is being traded wholesale in every corner of this big, round world.

The only solution is don’t believe everything you think.

I’m Totally Tired Of Porn!

WARNING:  Opinions expressed on this blog are so cold you can skate on them.  Reader discretion is advised.


I’m old enough to remember when journalism was an honourable profession.  (Yeah, I’m that old.)  In those days (and this isn’t just nostalgia) reporters reported the news, good reporters sought the truth and the great ones found it.  Even as I type this, it does sound a little corny and old-fashioned.  However, anyone, who was alive before Phil Donahue and his insipid brand of Jello Journalism f-f-f-fouled things up, will know what I’m talking about.  Edward R. Murrow’s boys (and more than a few girls) set the standard, and typewriters all over the world clattered away, trying to emulate them.  Unfortunately, those days are gone, and they’re not coming back.

These days journalists deal in porn.  It comes in many forms.  It wears many disguises.  But it’s always the same – an artificially arranged scenario whose sole purpose is to stimulate the audience — and any way you slice that, it’s porn.

Disaster Porn – Touring the wreckage has become de rigueur in television reporting.  Filming stunned survivors stumbling through the rubble is gold, and if you can get a shivering puppy on camera, you’re well on your way to a Pulitzer Prize.

Grief Porn – Shoving a camera into somebody’s face and asking, “Can you describe what was going through your mind when the police first told you your daughter had been eaten by cannibals?”

Poverty Porn – Camera crews and well-fed reporters, cruising through a refugee camp like it’s a guided tour of a human zoo of misery.  But the money shot is when they pull over and ask one of the locals just how horrible their godawful, wretched existence really is.

Ain’t it Awful Porn – This is when the downtrodden get an extra kick in the ass.  Journalists particularly enjoy empty foodbanks, old people who get scammed out of their life savings, and single mothers with cancer who lose their jobs a week before Christmas.

Trump Porn – OMG!  Look what the guy did, today!  LOOK!  JUST LOOK!  It’s way worse than yesterday!

It’s Not Really Porn Porn – No wonder feminists are pissed off all the time.  Believe me, Red Carpet cleavage, the wardrobe malfunction, the ever juvenile nip slip, and the full skirt caught by a random breeze are not actually news.  They’re occasions where polite people discreetly look away.

But the worst journalistic porn in the world is:

Inspirational Porn – Clearly, the only reason disabled people even exist is to demonstrate to the rest of us lazy bastards just how petty our problems really are.  Think about it!  The truth is, regardless of how talented, determined or resourceful these people might be on a normal daily basis — without their wheelchairs, journalists wouldn’t give them the time of day.


Summer News


In these last couple of days before the summer sun bakes us all into human pudding and the news media runs off and hides on their annual two-month vacation, there is still news – and most of it is pretty cool.

1 — The women of Saudi Arabia can drive.  The last bastion of motor vehicle misogyny has fallen, and the women of King Salman’s private sandbox can legally drive cars!  Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia actually is a giant sandbox and, aside from dropping their burkas off at the drycleaners, there’s really no place for the girls to go.  (Sand Dune #68 isn’t that big an attraction.)  Still, I imagine going through the drive-thru at Wendy’s is a big deal to someone who’s spent most of her life hanging out in a harem.

2 — That Canadian guy Jordan Peterson is suing Sir Wilfred Laurier University.  Apparently he’s pissed off because a couple of their “open-minded” academics compared him to Adolf Hitler.  Peterson’s contention is that Hitler ordered the murder of six million Jews; whereas all he (Peterson) did was say the gender neutral pronoun “ze” was bullshit and that is not strictly a crime against humanity.  Meanwhile, the university maintains that politically-correct fascists always compare people who disagree with them to Hitler, and Peterson should quit being such an over-sensitive Alt-right snowflake.  (Man! I wish Judge Judy could get hold of this one!)

3 — The super-duper poster boy for gender equality, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, just got hit with the hypocrite stick.  Apparently, before Mr. Trudeau got in touch with his feminine side (and a pile of female votes) he spent some time touching a female reporter who wasn’t too happy about his little game of grab-ass — and said so.  Trudeau’s actual response was, “I’m sorry.  If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.”  Interesting distinction on who is available for groping.  However, don’t expect this awkward incident to storm through Twitter any time soon; we all know that social media is very careful about who they tar and feather. (I’m looking at you, Bill Clinton!)

But on the other hand:

4 — The cultural cleansing of America continues.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, the woman who wrote Little House on the Prairie, has been dumped by the US Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC.)  According to that illustrious body, Wilder’s books contain “anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments.”  Wow!  It must have come as a hell of a shock to those nitwits that something published in 1932 didn’t reflect the values of the 21st century!

My chief worry about this is that, at some point in the not-so-distant future, all the books published before 1980 are going to be gathered up and given the Fahrenheit 451 treatment – including, ironically, Fahrenheit 451.