A wild and crazy kind of truth
December 8, 2016
I've often used this space to cite strange news stories from around the world in an effort to point out that odd and humorous behavior is a basic human trait but also to avoid having to come up with an original humorous thought of my own. I never knowingly use fake news; I don't need to, the world is a far funnier place than I can create. Now it seems I've been going about this all wrong.
Recently there's been a lot of buzz about "fake news" and it's impact on world events. Liberal media claims that fake news sources helped elect Donald Trump (and they are right) while conservative press outlets claim that fake news is an excuse used by the liberal media to explain the legitimate election of Donald Trump (and they, too, are right.) The saddest part of this paragraph is that we all concede that we have to chose between liberal and conservative press … how pathetic is that?
It's important here to recognize that as a humor columnist and a semi-pro smart aleck I don't have a dog in this hunt. Politics is not my beat, but human behavior, especially outrageous human behavior is and I think these fake news peddlers have strayed on to my turf. This is where I call BS … on the BS … so to speak.
It turns out that both the liberal and conservative media are dead wrong about the source and motivation of a large percentage of the fake news. I know, right? MSNBC and Fox News are equally wrong … knock me over with a feather!
First of all, the election is over so it's OK, to admit that you never really believed that ex-presidents and future presidents we all secretly meeting on some kind of sicko pedophile fantasy island. You knew they were just making that stuff up right? The FBI agent in charge of Hillary's email leaks didn't mysteriously die…you knew that too, right?
Until recently you had to go to the checkout aisle at the supermarket to find those kinds of headlines but now, thanks to the Internet, you can get the real scoop without ever leaving home. What's more, there's some real money to be made in making up ts news…like I said, I've been doing this all wrong!
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It seems that there is a group of kids in Veles, Macedonia who figured out that if you make up a legit sounding website, write an outrageous headline then pay Facebook to boost it you can get rich. There are school kids who still live with their parents bringing in over $50K a month for writing "Hillary linked to Anthony Weiner's naked seal clubbing excursions for the super rich!"
I really wish I was making this up but it's true…well, not the headline I made that one up, but these Eastern European punks have figured out that all they have to do is write a scandalous headline, cut a paste a few quotes from blogs and wait for Americans to click "Like" and "Share" and the euros will roll in. They learned earlier this year that headlines that were favorable to Trump were shared far more often and paid better so Hillary bashing became a Macedonian gold mine.
A BBC reporter asked a well-dressed young man who was sporting a new Rolex and a serious case of acne if he was worried that he and his mates might have influenced the American election he laughed. "Teenagers in our city don't care how Americans vote. They are only satisfied that they make money and can buy expensive clothes and drinks."
I was immediately reminded of Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd doing their famous "wild and crazy guys" routine on SNL. Think of it; back then we were laughing at their failed attempt to "cruise hot American foxes." Now who's laughing?
I'm clearly in the wrong business because there is so much more money in writing bogus headlines than writing mediocre humor columns. Besides, I think I may have more of a knack for that kind of BS than my normal brand of BS. Try this:
"From Fake Wrestling to Fake President!" or "Reality TV Actually Becomes Reality."
Never mind, I'd better stick to my own brand of almost clever nonsense and leave fake political news to those wild and crazy guys from Macedonia where it belongs. Remember, if you click it and share it often enough it actually becomes true. I think Abe Lincoln said that … and it must be true, I saw it on Facebook.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at email@example.com.