The Hoax is Back

Casey McKinney


I have to tell you, part of the reason I’ve largely, maybe stupidly, avoided the journalism game myself since my j-school days (opting to edit instead) is that, well, I often just can’t help but joke when writing about the news. I don’t know what it is. Some say there’s something to the generation being cursed ironically, or ironically cursed…anyway, cursed with the gift (or curse) of irony.

But you see the problem really is this––the celerity with which news is passed from one source to another just often gets my panties all wadded and tongue tied, and then thumbs are screwed and knuckles are bloodied while tromping through the internet, pecking away as I do with a couple of fingers.  It was easier back in the day when you had to actually make phone calls and/or god forbid interview someone in person, with a tape recorder, to get your story down.  If you doubt that such journalism makes for a better read I say if you haven’t yet please take a few minutes this morning and enjoy Jennifer Blowdryer’s first installment for Fanzine––the oral histories of people being 86’d. It’s a hoot, but it’s also for real. It just pays off to get the dirt straight from the horse’s mouth.

But then before I get too Dan Rathery with the idioms, I’m writing this blog because I find it interesting that for the second time in about a week that a big hoax has played out in the media. And yes that’s a vague term, the media, and does Rush Limbaugh deserve the same attention as the walleyed national cable news networks, spending hours with helicopter mounted cameras honed in on a wobbly silver balloon, one somewhat shaped like a 50’s style flying saucer that supposedly, for a few hours anyway, carried a six year old boy in it?  Of course we now know that that boy wasn’t really in the thing, that he was just the patsy for his parents’ attention grabbing stunt, they perhaps having withdrawal symptoms from their time in the spotlight on the hit, child exploiting show Wife Swap. Too bad they might have to kick in jail.

Well anyway if you don’t know that news by now, go back to reading your book or take your usual beautiful hike or whatever healthy people do instead of obsessing over all day helicopter chase scenes (be they in pursuit of White Broncos or Silver Balloons).

But I guess what is exciting is the potential I’ve seen in a news story this morning, where one of the great mindsuck, blowhards of all time, Rush Limbaugh, got his comeuppance (and no it wasn’t that they found Vicodin on him again) as he went on about a story he believed was true––that President Obama’s college thesis had been unearthed and that it contained allusions to his hatred of democracy, the constitution, and his kingly ambitions.  Well it’s not the Lupercal, nor is it April 1st, but man you gotta hand it to the hoaxers who had Rush going for half his show on the topic.

Not that I expect any vetting from the Limbaugh crew, but come on? Really now? Still one can only wonder what will be the future of media hoaxes.  They can play out delightful, as in the Limbaugh case, annoying as in the balloon kid story, or in some cases quite disruptive––i.e. the rumor mills that can drive and manipulate the stock market and which certainly aided and abetted the torrential economic collapse last year, as perfectly solid companies were driven down with the rest of a ship loaded with a portion of tainted fruit.

In a country without a generalized pension system, we are expected to individually save for our retirement, and it has become a given for many to trust their savings to 401ks and other similarly stock oriented retirement plans. I can’t help but feel like the grandpa griping about his piles when I get on this topic again and again (I mean I’d rather be writing about the Flaming Lips like Mark Gluth did so well for us earlier this month).

But then maybe this is what the blog should be about. I mean our blog (which for some reason I find painful to maintain…call it editorial gunshyness? dunno) did take over a section of what used to be a portion of the site that was a brief twitter-like system of blurbs and links to other news items, so there’s a feeling of obligation to at least look at the news in this spot on Fanzine.  Still can’t help but feel guilty sometimes for not doing actual on the ground reporting, and if we had the right funding, hell I would, but for now I guess the blog (and this just concerns the “blog” portion of Fanzine) will continue to toast up the news, and we’ll editorialize as best we can…and um laugh….or cry….naaaah, laugh.
-Casey McKinney

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