Did you read where purchasing the items in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" would cost you $567,000 this year? Crazy, huh? Well, it's not true. I just made up that number. It was fake news. But if I had put that information on your Facebook wall, you'd have had no real reason to doubt it; a variation of that same silly story comes up every year at Christmas. You might have even shared it. LOL.
Did you read where Vladimir Putin's popularity among Republicans rose 56 points in the past year? Not fake. Though I wish it were.
Did you hear that conservative Republican State Senator Brian Kelsey has teamed up with liberal Democratic State Senator Lee Harris to fight against TVA drilling in the Memphis Sand aquifer? That's also true — and heartening. I read it in Jackson Baker's column last week, and Jackson doesn't do fake news.
I also read a commentary last week wherein the writer was denouncing The New York Times and The Washington Post as pawns of the liberal establishment and how you couldn't trust anything you read in those papers. It's the new frontier of debate; you debunk the source of your opponent's facts, and thereby render his arguments moot. If you cite a story in the Times to back up your argument, you're just citing biased, and thereby "fake," news. Check and mate, libtard!
The Flyer is a liberal paper, but when Toby Sells reports on a Memphis City Council meeting, it's news, not liberal opinion. Differentiating between opinion and reporting is a nuance that's lost on many. Unless it's intentional.
For example, in a speech last week to a conservative group, Newt Gingrich, that paragon of truth and honor, said about mainstream media: "All of us on the right should describe it as the 'propaganda media,' drop the term 'news media' until they earn it, and begin to realize that the propaganda media cannot come to grips with the level of talent that they're dealing with."
I must agree that it is difficult for traditional media to come to grips with the "level of talent" that's being put forth as President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet, but not for the reasons Newt thinks it is.
But it's been part of the strategy of strongmen and dictators throughout history. Destroy the public's trust in the media, and you control how they think. And the GOP is doing its best to make that happen by demonizing any American media outlet that publishes or broadcasts negative news or opinions about them.
Our boy king-elect is one of the worst perpetrators. Last week, while thousands were dying in Aleppo, Trump was upset by a bad review of a Trump Tower restaurant in Vanity Fair, so he tweeted: "Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of Vanity Fair magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!"
The following day, more people subscribed to Vanity Fair than in any 24-hour period in its history. And that's how you beat a political bully. You support his enemies, those speaking truth to power, and those who support that truth by advertising with them. I just took out digital subscriptions to the Times and the Wall Street Journal. I did so because both publications do real reporting, even if their political viewpoints are appositional. I also gave Vanity Fair subscriptions to a few folks for Christmas.
And I'm still holding out hope that I can tick off The Donald enough that he'll attack The Memphis Flyer. That would make for a merry Christmas, indeed.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
The hacktivist group Anonymous announced last week that they would be outing hundreds of Americans who were involved with the Ku Klux Klan. The group claimed that they'd hacked KKK servers and obtained emails and documents that would reveal that many prominent American politicians were associated with the white supremacist group ...