Bruce Watson’s Lifestyles: All the news that’s fit to fake

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fake news has always been with us. Historians have discovered that until the birth of venerable old Walter Cronkite, at least 75 percent of all news was fake. Or was it?

See? You can’t be sure of anything anymore! I could have just made up that “fact” and even with a smart phone you wouldn’t be able to check it because you’re too busy texting and tweeting and browsing for kitchenware on Amazon.

The only thing new about fake news is the term “fake news.” It used to have other names — innuendo, rumor, slander, prevarication, deceit, deception, and my favorite — boldfaced lies. So what’s changed in our time is not the fakeness of news. It’s the rise of a critical mass of Americans who, when it comes to what they see on a screen, believe it all, especially if it’s shocking, surprising or smears Hillary Clinton. Might you be one of them?

Let’s take a test. Which of the following statements is false:

1) All liberals are perverted psycho-killers who take their marching orders from Cuba.

2) If all the ballots had been counted in the most recent election, GOP candidates would have won every contest.

3) Nobody likes me.

Take your time …

Okay, as some of you guessed, all three are false. Your mother likes you, at least. But if you said any of the three was true, especially the last, you’ve contracted the malady of the moment — Post-Modern Gullibility Syndrome (PGS).

PGS began in the heady days after 9/11 when we were attacked by Saudis — 19 of the 20 — and soon invaded Iraq. I won’t go into the whole twisted build-up, turning truth into lies and vice-versa. But having sold us a war, the media and the Masters of the Universe realized that the Internet and cable news let them sell innuendo, rumor, slander, etc. as “news.” Such (gag!) “news” looked real, sounded real, and no matter how absurd they made it, a critical mass of Americans ACTUALLY BELIEVED IT!?!?

For the next few years, 40-60 percent of all news was fake. Then in 2009, venerable old Walter Cronkite died. (I just checked the date. Why would ihatecronkite.com lie about that?)

What, then, is the cure for PGS — assuming you believe it’s real? (You could check but you forgot to charge your phone.) News doctors offer the following advice for PGS sufferers.

First, consider the source. Time was when you had ABC, NBC, and V.O. Cronkite. News was on a half-hour a day. No one had half a clue about what was really going on but what they heard, they could trust. These days, news is the air we breathe, and much of it is toxic. So whatever you breathe, ask yourself if the hot air machine behind it might — JUST MIGHT — be paid very well to tell you what you want to hear. And don’t believe anything you read on Facebook.

Next, have a little faith in the system. When you are told that the government that you elected — or elected by not voting — has become a giant sucking tax hole dedicated to invading your privacy, confiscating your guns, and befouling the very air you breathe, be suspicious. At least until the coming decade.

And be extra suspicious of:

• News that mentions Russia.

• News that makes you feel your political party has God’s own truth and that the opposition, or as PGS sufferers call it — “the enemy” — is in league with the devil.

• News that contains any of the following words: “fascism,” “leftist,” “Hillary Clinton,” “Wikileaks,” “Breitbart,” “alt-,” “so-called,” “idiot,” “voter fraud,” “real Americans,” “global warming hoax.”

Finally, consider the advice of Ronald Reagan. (That’s right, I’m quoting Reagan now. It’s come to this.) “Trust, but verify.” On second thought, “Don’t trust, but at least check it out.” And keep your phone charged.