ON FAKE NEWS

I know what you’re thinking.  Okay, not everything you’re thinking. I don’t know if you hate cilantro or love movies about cancer, but what you’re thinking about the title of this post.  You’re thinking something like, “this better not be about you-know-who.”

Parental advisory: there is some stuff at the end that isn’t for kids.  I don’t think any kids read this blog. But it may be unsuitable for some grandmothers also.  Grandfathers maybe, but not so much.

One rule of this blog is no politics because that never ends well these days.  So it’s not about you-know-who.  Plus, even if you don’t agree with my political leanings, you could still enjoy my book. So let’s discuss politics in person, which forces most people to be civil, but not on the internet, which has no such etiquette expectation or requirement.

lizard
Nice specimen of lizard out in the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains. This guy claims that the Geico gecko is not a real lizard. Discuss.

Wait, you say, your book Smoking in Bed has Dick Cheney in it as a supporting character.  That must be political. But it isn’t. Dick Cheney is depicted as a smart if somewhat ethically challenged leader.

I know someone who knows Dick, I mean really knows Dick, and he says he was an intelligent guy and very nice until he tasted real power and went a bit off the rails, and this is from a right wing lunatic, so I trust the source.  Let’s just say that my Dick isn’t portrayed as some evil lunatic hell-bent on creating a new world order.  There is goodness in Dick.

Just like “innocent until proven guilty,” one should assume innate goodness, or at least not badness, in every individual until they show that they are in fact an asshole. In other words, everyone is presumed good until proven otherwise, and frankly, you can usually tell pretty quickly.

What does this have to do with fake news?  Nothing, really.  Just needed a way to start the post and plug my novel.

sageblossoms
These are either dried out sage blossoms or a plant from Dr. Seuss.

I’m from New York City via Long Island, so I grew up reading some damn fine newspapers, including the still great (most of the time) NY Times and Newsday, originally “Long Island’s newspaper.”  I was even a paper boy for a few years.

When the internet came along, all the papers had free digital editions. They soon realized that no one pays for something they can get for free, so they started paid subscriptions.  Except for the NY Daily News, the old NY tabloid, which remained free for a while.

When I lived in NYC, I only read the News for the sports, and occasionally page 6 which was basically the “what’s up in NY” page, with all the entertainment news.  For real news, it was always the Times or Newsday. The Daily News wasn’t taken too seriously.

Anyhoo, it’s no longer free, but I was hooked, so now I pay a little for a digital subscription of fake news and confess that NY Daily News, a paper famous for this headline during an especially rainy period: “1976 – LEAK YEAR,” is my main source of news.  The front page is legendary.  One of the best was the classic: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”  Sure, it’s sensationalizing in the tabloid tradition, but it’s classic.

The News has some great writers, and still an excellent sports section.  The reporting on what’s going on in Washington and New York City, political and otherwise, is all pretty solid, news-wise.  Yes, it’s a liberal-leaning NYC tabloid, but these days all the papers have their leanings, one way or another, and always have.  It’s just a bit more obvious these days.

So even though the news I read may be labeled by some as “Fake News,” I’m pretty confident it’s real news, although maybe written for an audience that in all likelihood doesn’t watch Fox News in the evening.  And besides just not agreeing with something doesn’t make it fake.

Whoa, almost got political there.

seagulls
Remember when you were a kid, drawing a scene at the beach, and the seagulls all looked like little m’s and v’s? Well?

Then there’s what I call the crazy shit.  You know, celebrities doing zany things in the City, mob shootings, people beheading their mothers (okay, it was just one person and one mother), all that great stuff.  And the salacious too.  Perverted doctors and teachers getting their comeuppance.  Usually at least one quote from an unsuspecting neighbor (“He seemed very nice.  Always polite and friendly.  Quiet.  I had no idea.”)  Priceless.

Remember that thing about people being presumed good until proven not so good? That’s like these stories about doctors and teachers and clergy doing naughty, nasty, or downright illegal and immoral things, and getting caught. We love those guilty, sad, my-life-is-over expressions on the mug shots.  Justice served cold, with a side of what-the-hell, as in, what the hell are these people thinking?

Even in this day and age, with people being very sensitive and aware of things like racism and sexual harassment, people in positions of trust continue to do these really stupid things, and you think, didn’t they know this would end badly?

There’s a scandalous story in the Daily News involving the NYPD.  Now, I’m a cop supporter, and respect all they do and even though there are no doubt some bad cops and racist cops and we’ve all seen the video, but for the most part these men and women protect us from total lawlessness.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to trust my safety and future to the law of natural selection.

sidewave
Why I can’t trust natural selection for my survival: This is a selfie. Found a beautiful shell at the water’s edge. Tried to take a picture of it. Wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Didn’t notice big wave coming in. Backpedaled, didn’t notice rock behind me. Fell flat on my ass as the wave came and soaked me. This is the wave as it is about to land on my phone.

So, there’s this story about a female cop, a captain, who was accused of sexually harassing male officers in her precinct. She was doing pretty much what a lot of guys have done for centuries, but that didn’t make it okay. She must have learned from a master. A lot of sex talk and humiliation. With lots of detail, which is why you gotta love the Daily News.

Skipping over the more disgusting activity, let’s just say the captain is on paid leave.  Which means she’ll sit around 8 hours a day and collect full salary for doing nothing for years until they get around to her case, but that’s another issue.

Anyway, the story disappeared, but like other  “stories,” new details emerged.  And this is the part not for kids or mothers.  Well, your mother anyway.  There was a picture of the captain and one of the police officers at a club, dancing.  It’s a selfie, and she’s holding a drink and he’s holding a drink, as well as what appears to be a realistic fake penis in the area where one would expect a real one to be.

Okay, so this is why I love the NY Daily News.  You can’t put a picture of a real penis in a legit newspaper without losing a crap-load of readers and facing major fines.  So even though this is a real-looking fake penis being held in the place where a real penis might normally be found, we know it’s fake, not just because the caption says so, but because if it were a real penis, the picture would never be published, or if it were, the penis would be blurred out.  But it’s not a penis. It’s a fake penis!  And so, there it is in all its glory.

Never mind that the officer is a darker-complexioned Latino and the fake penis appears to be modeled after someone from… Scandinavia perhaps?… we have to take their word that this is fake.  The only other way we know it’s fake is that if it were real, it wouldn’t be in the picture.

These sordid tales beg the question, why do these people think that what they are doing is enjoyable or sexy on some level?  It isn’t.  So yes, that’s right, one of the best things about reading these stories is the superior feeling you get when you realize that, though you might not be perfect, there are a ton of people much more screwed up than you’ll ever be. Thank you NY Daily News.

So, what have we learned about fake news?  Nothing much, except that you can even find a real news story about a fake penis, and that’s very confusing on its face, so all bets are off.

At this point, sadly, TV news is as much about entertaining the audience as it is about informing, so I’ll stick to my hometown newspaper. After all, where else can I easily find selfies of the celebrities I hate most on vacation in the Italian Riviera, or the best hamburger place in every state?  I rest my case.

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