Fake news is in the news, but that’s probably fake news.
Last month, Sports Illustrated featured Lonnie Walker IV, the 18th pick in the 2018 National Basketball Association draft, who played at the University of Miami. Last year, Walker was playing at Reading High School, leading the team to a Pennsylvania state championship.
The young man’s a terrific basketball talent, and, on top of that, Sports Illustrated dubbed him the most interesting rookie in the world – and that’s very interesting. Because one of the questions SI asked him was whether he believes in the moon landings.
He answered, “The background, the surroundings – y’all tried to make it look too much like a moon. The details were almost too great. There’s no way it looks this nice or this well done.”
So, if I understand Professor Walker correctly, the moon landings were fake because the moon didn’t look fake enough?
Yes, that’s interesting. But maybe not such a stretch for young sky-Walker when you consider he’s about to enter the fakest of all fake worlds: professional sports, a world where the beauty of the game and the nobility of honest competition have lost their appeal to a great sector of its fan base, a base much more focused on odds, point spreads and over/unders.
And even more insidious, fantasy sports, the quite-possibly last step in mankind’s rather rapid decay back to the level of awareness and enlightenment of one-cell organisms from which it came.
As Carl Sagan once put it, billions and billions of folding-stuff is fried-out on spurious equivalents antithetical to the purity of the proposed intent and function of the enterprise. In other words, the actual outcome of sporting events has become subordinate, if not irrelevant, to the wants and needs of the degenerate multitudes’ misdirected passion for fake events.
And it gets worse, as we learn from the ad infinitum reruns of “Seinfeld.” It seems there’s been more faking going on in private arenas than on any playing field or court.
In an episode titled “The Mango,” when Elaine informs Jerry, in all her inimitable warmth, that she faked it with him, he pleads, incredulously, “What about the breathing, the panting, the moaning, the screaming?”
“Fake, fake, fake, fake,” Elaine responds, emphasizing each “fake” with a stroke of her index finger, like counting off strawberries on your shortcake.
Is nothing sacred?
Apparently not. But, hey, if you listen to the hysteria from the platitudinous orifices of the over-stimulated and under-informed denizens of the brave new world and their designated town criers, we’re in the throes of a dishonesty epidemic perpetrated by fake-newsers gone wild, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL
I think not.
If twerking is art, reality TV shows such as “Naked and Afraid” are entertainment and Kevin Costner is an actor, can a little fake news really be considered a new phenomenon?
No, folks, fake news always has been with us.
Thomas Jefferson, in effect, bought an editorial platform to make up slanderous stuff about John Adams during the election of 1800; Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation under the guise of humanity, but its true purpose was to prevent foreign powers from assisting the Confederacy; Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy.
THE LOUDER, THE FAKER
Fake news has been our birthright since the inception of this star-spangled experiment and should have been included in the Declaration of Independence along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Alas, we used to be less manipulatively excitable in those bygone days before social media did our thinking for us, before we became so adamantly shrill.
And that shrill has become the current definition of fake news: Whatever you believe that is not in agreement with what I believe is fake news, and the louder I shout it, the faker it is.
SMOKE, MIRRORS AND A SWEET RIDE
Not since Dr. Samuel Johnson kicked the stone and said, “I refute it thus,” has there been so much debate over what is real and what is fake.
But let’s face it, it’s hard to keep it real in an incessantly shifting environment of smoke and mirrors, especially if you’re trying to win friends and influence people. Which is something I learned years ago when I was a young pup in sales trying to get noticed, and the notice I coveted most was a gold Rolex watch and a Mercedes Benz 280 SL.
It was down the shore one summer during that embryonic period of my life when I chanced to meet a fellow in possession of a gold Rolex watch and a Mercedes Benz 280 SL – a hot little two-seater in maroon with natural-leather tan seats.
The guy was slick and silky, so cool he could smooth the o’s out of Cheeris, and I greatly admired his style and accouterments.
Once we got to know each other, he confided that the Rolex was a knockoff, a fake he bought from a New York City street vendor, and the Benz was leased at a low monthly installment with a huge, daunting balloon payment at the end.
As it turned out, the monthly nut for his expensive ride was about the same as mine for my economical and low-profile Subaru, sans the balloon payment and associated angst.
Fake, fake, fake, fake!
So when it comes to fake, I take the advice of the great American theoretician, Groucho Marx: “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
Sales consultant and professional speaker Rich Plinke of Allentown is the author of “More Droppings from the Dragon: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sales,” available at www.moredroppingsfromthedragon.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.