Fake News

There is much fake handwringing about fake news today, but if we didn’t have fake news we wouldn’t have any news at all. Not surprisingly, fake news is not new. Quite possibly the first published fake news occurred more than three thousand years ago when the Pharaoh Ramses II, returning home with the remnant of his shattered army after being smoked by the Hittites at Kadesh, had a series of large stone reliefs erected on the outer walls of the Ramseum at Thebes, depicting an Egyptian victory over the heathen. The fake story was believed by historians until the late 19th century when archaeologists discovered the Hittite capital of Hattusa and found, in the palace library, baked clay tablets and seals signed by the Egyptians setting the terms of the suspension of hostilities, with the terms highly favorable to the Hittites, indicating that the Pharaoh had not been entirely truthful. Naturally enough, many archaeologists refused to believe the evidence of their eyes and disputed the accuracy of the signed agreements, preferring to remain enchanted with the lie rather than believe such an outcome could have occurred. We find this attitude prevalent today in people who still maintain that CBS News anchor Dan Rather’s fake documents designed to unseat President George W. Bush in the 2004 election were genuine, or if not genuine, then at least accurate. And now the Democrats have orchestrated a fake news blitz claiming, without a shred of evidence, that the Russians elected Donald Trump, and we can expect more fake news as Democrats are now trying to get a recount of the vote in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania so that they can steal the election, as they have so successfully stolen elections, by fraudulent recounts, in Washington State and Wisconsin in the very recent past. I include myself in the list of believers in fake news so long as the fake news is delivered by someone I trust not to do so. And therein lies the rub. I have watched documentaries of WW2 and listened to the voice over state the most absurd things I know to be not true but will watch a documentary on polar bears, about whom I know nothing, and believe every word.

If all the news we hear is fake
And all the fakes are news
What disposition can we make
Of one another’s views
I read the Internet of course
And television too
And yet while I believe the source
That doesn’t make it true
I scratch my head and think aloud
Did Cronkite in the booth
Did Walter Winchell do us proud
Did either tell the truth
I know so little when compared
To what there is to know
So that is why I am prepared
To take my news real slow
And wonder if those fake reliefs
On modern temple walls
Reflect not news but false beliefs
And juggled bowling balls

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