Real Fake News

by Thomas Casey

The boogeyman of phony news reporting is haunting America. This pervasive, nationwide, deeply ingrained existential threat began, according to Democrats, on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016. Liberals everywhere are crying foul that some made up news stories toppled their otherwise unblemished presidential candidate. Of course, nobody’s got any specific headlines or direct ties to voting outcomes, but that doesn’t matter because any published proof disproving the theory would just be fake news anyway.

You really have to be careful out there with all this fake news floating around. I can’t even bring myself to trust the very magazine I’m writing for anymore. Still, I consider myself an outside authority on all this fake news business. You see, my reading habits have spared me from the scourge. I get all my news from 1776redconservativepatriotveteranreagan.com, one of the few remaining truly unbiased bastions on the internet. If the good boys at 1776RCPVR have taught me anything, it’s to spot the liars right from the headline. I remember the early days of fake news, reading tabloid captions in the supermarket checkout line. Good times such as when the Global Enquirer would report that Paris Hilton and Dracula had given birth to a three headed alien baby. Then the checkout clerk would keep the fake news rolling when she’d tell me my coupons were expired. Then fake news got kind of serious. In 2004, Dan Rather made up a story about how George W. Bush didn’t fly his military plane enough times. Then in 2012, Harry Reid spun a tale about how Mitt Romney didn’t pay any taxes. Finally, in 2016, I told a cashier in C4 that I had water in my cup when it was actually Moutain Dew. The lesson here is that fake news is most prominent in years that are evenly divisible by 4.

Probably the fakest news I’ve seen in some time is Huffington Post’s election prediction. The Post confidently pegged Clinton’s victory at 99%. That means that Huffington Post asserts, with either a 95% or 90% confidence interval, that Clinton will reach 270 electoral votes. Clinton’s end result of 232 puts her a bit off the projections. Curious, I ran a fake two-sample t-test and found that they lied. At least they were better than greenrevolutionnaturedefender.org, which had posterchild Jill Stein grabbing 655 EVs. The crazy thing is that Huffington Post got away with it! They even have the gall to post news stories criticizing other fake news reporters. A classic case of the pot calling the kettle calling the panther calling a piece of coal a fake news website.

All of this led me to consider opening my own fake news industry. There are literally no repercussions to doing so and I could collect tons of money. I would first need to choose the side of the political spectrum I would cater to. For example I could choose a Republican platform, just because that’s vogue nowadays. A right-wing site would have headlines like “Shameful! Obama just outlawed the National Anthem during Colorado Rockies games!” That’s actually all it would have. Fake news sites don’t need anything more than headlines. Nobody on the Internet clicks to read the actual article. The best part about right-wing sites is that I’d grab a big demographic. I’d get the older, conservative crowd who shares my imaginary headlines in outrage. At the same time, liberals would share them to make fun of crazy conservatives or as an example of the fake news that made Clinton lose. I don’t care who shares it, because a liberal like or share gets me the same amount of that sweet, sweet Google AdSense money that the conservative ones do.

On the other hand, I could be an industry leader in the liberal fake news arena. This would mean betraying my ideology. But to be honest, I would sell out my beliefs if it meant getting a quick buck. Liberals are more sensitive to outright lies, so I’d need to be a bit more covert. I’d take the route of skewing actual events to provoke liberal outrage. For example, “35 U.S. Companies Earned a Profit Last Year. Here’s Why That’s a Problem.” For the article’s content, I would just copy and paste the top comment on my most recent article’s Facebook post. This would require me to make at least one original article to kick the whole process off, but that’s no biggie. I’d lead off with a softball, something like, “This Vehicle Burns Fossil Fuels to Drive. Here’s What You Can Do to Stop It.” Easy, hit the break. I don’t care if people think my articles are pure garbage. As long as they like, comment and share them, my advertising revenue will keep my wallet stuffed.

The only roadblock in this plan, besides AdBlock, is the moral issue. Spreading fake news is wrong. Even if all people really want to do is constantly confirm their biases, it wouldn’t be morally right of me to spread lies to please them. Pope Francis made a brief statement explicitly indicating the sinful nature of fake news reporting. I got this tidbit right from the Vatican, so I’ll toss this in the true category. Alas, the crushing weight of wrongdoing bars me from starting my own fake news site. But that won’t stop me from leafing through The National Inquisitor to see exclusive photos of Kim Kardashian’s transdimensional boyfriend.

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