Fake news. It’s everywhere these days, and I have to be honest – it really annoys me.
It isn’t so much that I am concerned about the public being misled and leaping to crazy conclusions – they do a far better job of that themselves than any news media could – but it is more of a demarcation/proprietary rights thing.
In other words, the media are stealing my bit.
For decades now I have been writing columns that are full of inaccuracies, wildly exaggerated anecdotes, and – let’s be honest here – flat-out lies. If fake news is now a thing, I believe I am entitled to some royalties (any specialists in this area of litigation who feel like taking this one for me pro bono should give me a call).
I think I am on to a lucrative thing here, because fake news is very popular, to the extent that the most realistic current affairs program on TV right now is Dr Who.
That is probably appropriate, because the channel that screens that is currently engaged in an effort to link the Prime Minister with a very odd conspiracy, the details of which are not clear but would appear to involve the FBI, KGB, dead aliens at Roswell and Harold Holt. Naturally, Donald Trump is a big believer in it.
Scott Morrison’s connection seems to be that his brother’s wife’s cousin’s next-door neighbour’s aunt owns a dog whose vet once dated a woman now married to a guy who once looked at the QAnon website. Following the link is a little difficult in the same way that Dirac’s Theorem1 is a little difficult;2 journalism, apparently, is way harder than it looks.
Another news media organisation is currently pushing the hypothesis that COVID was deliberately created in a lab in China, as a result of the United States and China working together to produce it. Sure, the facts, logic and scientific analysis do not support this, and the chance that America and China could co-operate on anything is about the same as Paul Gallen being elected Premier of Queensland, but hundreds of column inches have been devoted to the possibility. Naturally, Donald Trump is a big believer in it.
It isn’t necessarily that I don’t believe governments might try to create a deadly virus; it is just that I can’t see how it would ever have been kept a secret. Sure, China’s involvement might be hushed up, since investigative journalists in China enjoy less freedom than your average Victorian (albeit they are on average locked up for shorter periods).
Any US involvement, however, would probably become public knowledge at around the time various US states started squabbling over the right to construct the Deadly Virus Secret Lab, and the billions of dollars in federal funds that would come with it; certainly the public would know about it long before Joe Biden did.
There would be leaks, denials, confirmations, enquiries and shouting matches on a certain US cable network3 over America’s God-given right to create deadly viruses, and US citizens’ rights to own these viruses and use them for home defence as per the Second Amendment.
I understand why people are now stealing my idea to make stuff up rather than research it, because generally the headlines are better. I mean a truthful headline – say, ‘Vaccines continue to work and be safe’ – gets far fewer clicks than, ‘Vaccines cause children to grow tails, stream Netflix directly to brains’. The fact that the second headline is obviously false doesn’t stop anyone clicking on it, nor many of them actually believing it.4
Many people worked out long ago that if you repeat complete bollocks often enough, it gains some measure of validity. For example, when I was a kid there was a certain celebrity famous for claiming to be able to bend spoons with his mind; I won’t name him because he was also famous for commencing lawsuits.5
In any event, the fact that a whole bunch of illusionists showed how to fake bending spoons with your mind didn’t stop heaps of people thinking this guy was doing it for real. I was always suspicious, not so much because I was any cleverer than anyone else, but because it seemed to me to be a thoroughly useless thing to do with such a power. I mean, that is the lamest superhero ever – Spoon Man.
He can’t fly, stick to walls or deflect bullets, but if the bad guys come running over the hill wielding spoons, he’s your man. What use is that to anyone, with the possible exception of Alanis Morissette?*
Surely if one possessed the power to bend things with one’s mind, one would bend something more worthwhile – by which I mean lucrative – and earn enough money to avoid being pilloried for referring to one’s self as ‘one’ far too often.
David Beckham earns about the same as Western Australia6 on an annual basis, largely because he could bend a football around a wall and score. I have no problem with this because he did it for Man United, the best team ever, and is thus worth every cent. What kind of moron7 would pay money for a bent spoon?
It stands to reason that there must be some, so if you (or anyone you know) would like a bent spoon, please send a pre-paid Express Post packet and $200 to me, care of QLS, and wait four to six weeks.8
Bent spoons have been shown to vibrate your chakra to optimum resonance, thus restoring your aura and fulminating your reiki out the wazoo. Naturally, Donald Trump is a big believer in it.
© Shane Budden 2021
*Editor’s note: That’s a subtle one, Shane. Well done anyone who picks up on it!
1 A simple graph with n vertices (n ≥3) is Hamiltonian if every vertex has degree n/2 or greater; but you knew that already.
2 Albeit peanuts compared to following what QAnon actually believe.
3 Which out of courtesy, journalistic professionalism and a deep desire not to get sued, I will not name.
4 Now that I have said it, you can expect it to become part of cable news gospel.
5 He was famous for losing them too, but I won’t take the chance since he is clearly due.
6 And allows more people to visit.
7 Assuming there is more than one kind.
8 WARNING: Spoon may not be bent when delivered. Also, spoon may not be delivered.