Recently, when I heard that there’d be an attempt to stop fake news stories from being circulated on Facebook, I thought: “Great, someone’s standing up to Fox News at last!” Sadly, that’s not the case. Apparently it’s the smaller “non-professional” outfits that’ll be banned, because until you’re actually paid to write lies, it’s somehow dishonest and immoral. Once you’re a professional it’s ok, because that’s what they pay you to write.
Of course, the obvious problem is satire. Will stories like “Donald Trump Announces That Harvard Will Be Renamed Trump University” be considered fake news or recognised as satire. Mind you, here in Oz ever since Abbott became Opposition Leader (the first time, not recently when Turnbull took over as PM) much of what I’ve written as satire has been pretty hard to distinguish from the truth. In fact, my satiric predictions are running about 45% which puts me ahead of most psychics and all serious political journalists. And now that the US has elected a man whose main claim to fame is as the star of a reality TV show, it makes one wonder whether Kanye West’s announcement that he intends to run for President may actually lead to a show where the Kardashians are in the Whitehouse.
Yep, we certainly have entered a world where it’s hard to tell what’s real any more. When I heard that Senator Culleton was calling for a jury in his case before the High Court, I had to wonder if Malcolm Roberts really was the most confused One Nation member, after all. The High Court is there to decide on matters of law; the idea that a jury should decide on a matter that’s gone to the High Court would be like asking the viewers to decide on whether a batsmen should be given out LBW. “What do you mean it hit him outside the line of leg stump and can’t be given out, I think that he should go because I don’t like Tasmanians.” Senator Culleton did end his press conference by assuring us that his psychologist wife had declared that he was both sane and a “machine” so we should have no worries about his capacity to represent himself.
However, probably the strangest thing I heard in the past year was Donald Trump’s reaction to Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live send-up. Baldwin started by having his Trump caricature ask “Google, what is ISIS?”, which clearly identified it as a satire because it’s clear Trump wouldn’t have any need to ask a question given his expertise on just about everything. And, if he did feel the need to ask, he wouldn’t realise that Google can respond to questions. Nonetheless, Trump was apparently watching because he tweeted:
“I watched parts of … Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?”
Now, given that SNL is a comedy show which holds people up to ridicule it makes one wonder exactly what Trump was asking for in his suggestion about equal time. While it’s certainly true that once Trump was a clown who could have been requesting equal time to suggest that he would be funnier, now that he’s President-elect, the joke’s over and nobody would be laughing if he showed that he’s even more ridiculous than Baldwin was suggesting.
On the other hand, did he want equal time to tell us all that he knew what ISIS is and none of the things that he was being ridiculed for were true? If that’s the case, does this mean that he’s going to spend his entire time as POTUS attempting to explain exactly where the satirists have got it wrong. This would hardly leave him any time to actually fulfil his presidential duties. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it would certainly be without precedent. But I guess that’s what the Donald is known for: doing the unexpected. “I am running for re-election in 2020 with the intention of attempting to do the things I promised but have been unable to do because of my busy schedule responding to all the comedians making fun of me. Please give me four more years so that I can finish what I intended to start with my first term.”
Then again, maybe he’ll just announce that satire comes under the category of fake news and like all the other fake news sites needs to be shut down, because it seems that his supporters can’t tell the difference.
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