Where is the real news?

One visitor at yesterday’s post said that while I liked the chaos of an uncertain past, he found the cover-ups that created that uncertainty to be unsettling. I agree with him.

The chaos that motivates me as a writer is that which occurs after the fact–even centuries after the fact–as people (experts and others) try to cut through old smoke screens to figure out what really happened.

Suffice it to say, there’s nothing good about the news today when it becomes polarized, subject to corporate or anchor-person agendas, or sanitized to conform with public opinion. When these things happen, what we’re getting is public relations information that has gone through multiple spin doctors.

When people argue with each other on social media, I can usually tell where they’re getting their real or imagined news: FOX or CNN. I want to ask, where have all the journalists gone, long time passing, gone to the big money every one, when will they ever learn?

My father was a journalist and a journalism school dean, I majored in journalism and taught it at the college level, so I’ve got to say, the kind of reportage we’re getting today from many sources is not what we taught: it’s yellow journalism creeping out of the past tricking the public into believing that public opinions are more honest (or exciting) than facts.

I went to a large journalism school (Syracuse) and when I read the bulletins and newsletters they send out to their alumni, I see a lot of good things happening. According to its website, Syracuse University’s “Newhouse School is more than just the nation’s leading communications school. It’s where passionate young minds go to discover what they can become—communicators, storytellers, leaders, innovators.” I see similar statements on other university websites.

I want to ask this: What happens to your students between their graduation days and the moment when they report to work at news sites that are skewing the news?

Does the mob stop by to see them before they report to work and promise money if they follow orders and violence if they don’t? Has social media’s focus on personal opinion dumbed down the public so they don’t know the difference between an opinion show and a news broadcast? Or, are people just too lazy to check multiple sources?

Perhaps all of the above.

I don’t think the solution to this problem is censorship by Facebook as though the opinions expressed on the site need to go through some strainer to see if they’re correct or not. That’s a misnomer. Opinions might be anything and could be strange or fact-based or agenda-based. But we have a right to say what we think.

Frankly, I think we need more people calling out major news organizations for skewing the news. I’ve even caught age-old newspapers “covering” a speech by making stuff up about what was said. If I hear the live broadcast of the speech and then see a “news report” the following day that doesn’t match the actual speech, I know the newspaper or broadcast organization is reporting an agenda rather than the facts.

I’m surprised more people don’t sound off about this. Or, perhaps–as many have told me–they read/listen to the sources they agree with. That means they’re not looking for multiple sources to find the truth.

I’ve said a lot of this before on this blog. From time to time, it seems necessary to say it again.


When I say I write magical realism, some people think that means I ignore the facts. I don’t. The realism has to be anchored by the truth for the magic to work.


I’m finding satire harder to write these days

“We’re not a respectable network. We’re a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.” – “Network.” 1976

I’ve been writing satirical news stories since the Nixon administration, poking fun at government stupidities that seemed so inane that the public should have run for the hills, escaped over the border into Canada, or gone flat nuts.

My wife and I watched “Network” a few nights ago. We don’t think it works now as well as it did when was released because in our view, all of the networks are whorehouse networks. That is to say, they all seem biased for or against President Trump.

I introduced my old-style reporter character Jock Stewart in my in 2011 in Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire after using the character in blogs as my alter-ego for poking fun at the major political parties for years.  “He” has appeared on this and other blogs since then as well as in several Kindle books of short stories.

The problem seems to be this: everything I read in the national news already seems to be satire. At some point, Peter Sellers and/or Oscar Wilde took over the world and everything has gone crazy. Since both of them are dead, you can see that the problem must be tangled up with karma and reincarnation.

The challenge for those of us who enjoy writing satire is this: People don’t think it’s funny because they think it’s true.

The Howard Beale character in “Network” said: “So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus.” If the movie were made today, Beale would include the Internet.

Yes, I know, “Saturday Night Live” and “The Onion” are still out there. But when I see them, they look like the real news, the stuff we’ve been told is fake news. Gosh, when real journalism is in the toilet, satirists have no place to go. In order to save satire, we first have to return journalism to the world of objectivity. Easier said than done.

But if we lose satire as an art form, civilization is done for.



Microsoft to update your brain due to atomic clock hacking incident

Washington, D. C., January 1, 2017 (hacked time), Star-Gazer News Service – After the National Security Information discovered that Kim Jong-un ordered the Supreme Hacking Department of North Korea’s administration to hack into and disrupt the Unites State’s atomic clock, President Obama had a new problem:

To be puctual, or not to be punctual, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the land to suffer skewed time
With it’s Slings and Arrows of undestined misfortune,
Or to take Arms against a malware sea of code,
And by opposing, obliterate it, to say we now awake
To end the Heart-Ache of sleep in our hexed abode
And hope the replacement era suits us better for goodness’ sake.

North Korean hacked time at the fictional present moment.
North Korean hacked time at the fictional present moment.

According to 98.6% of the federal government’s panel of scientists, most Americans believe today is January 1, 2017 because the North Korean malware introduced a stream of malicious leap seconds into the heart of the atomic clock so that ever since the dog days of August, time has moved “faster than theoretically possible.”

“Among other things,” said Temporal Control Officer (TPO) Erwin Schrödinger, “birds and bees are ‘doing it’ more often than usual, work days are longer and weekends are shorter, and most of what’s happened in the last four months never happened.”

Press secretary James “Jay” Carney said that the administration has decided to “let the temporal cat out of the temporal box” and “take arms against the malware sea of code.”

According to Schrödinger, most Americans will suffer no ill effects from an over-night reprogramming of their brains via software contributed by Microsoft.

Actual time

“While you sleep, perchance to dream,” said Carney, “your brain will be taken back to August 11th and will be re-set so as to allow the entire nation to move ahead in harmony with time as the good Lord has defined it, ordered it, and calculated it. Most people will suffer no ill effects and will wake up tomorrow as though nothing has happened. Quite frankly, nothing has happened since the lethargic and indolent dog days, so for most people it will be business as usual even though a few people may have to reboot their sex lives and other coping mechanisms several times to get back on track.”

Concerned about the ethics of violating Star Trek’s temporal prime directive and voiding four months of seemingly real activity, the administration erred on the side of caution by taking no action in spite of the fact it was informed of the hack while it was happening. Some government philosophers said that if we got a “do over,” the same things would happen because they were destined to happen. Others said that “tweaks in the updates’ reprogramming code would keep people from doing the wrong things they did and the result would be a better world.

The decision was finally made when Obama asked if reprogramming the clock and the brains of the populace would bring back Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.

“We told him it would,” said Schrödinger, “even though everything that may have happened since August 11th is neither true nor not true until we reprogram ourselves the new truth is set free–or isn’t.”

“Make it so,” the President said.

–Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter