Truth The First Casualty
Last week we were observing a court case, sitting in the public galleries. During one of the lengthy breaks, we had the opportunity to speak with one of the reporters covering the trial. He was a pleasant, earnest sort of chap. We conversed on a number of topics related to the media.
Towards the end of the conversation he informed me, sotto voce, that he and his colleagues had been made privy to a Big Scandal. Apparently, the buzz was that some intrepid reporter in the United States had got a hold of President Trump's tax returns, and the big reveal was about to hit the airwaves. It was expected to be devastating to Trump. Indeed, my informant gleefully chuckled, apparently so devastating that it would likely end his presidency.
Upon parting we found ourselves picturing a huge buzzing hive where by some mysterious process information was instantaneously communicated to "those in the know", aka the media, right around the world. The inside goss, as it were, transmitted secretly and globally with the speed of light.
Driving home from the court that night we were foolish enough to be listening to one of the local radio stations. The host and his guest were giggling with malicious laughter.
Rachel Maddow of MSNBC had just soiled her diapers on US primetime. A Big Reveal on Trump's tax returns had just gone up in smoke. Maddow had apparently teased her audience for hours about the devastating Trump tax information she was about to release. Then, suddenly, the Big Reveal came. It was one tax return from about ten years ago. It showed that Trump had paid tax--substantial amounts of the stuff. We realised that this must be the destroy-Trump scandal that our reporter friend had febrifaciently whispered to us.
So complimentary to Trump and so devastating to the conspiracy theorists and the global media. No wonder the local radio hosts were laughing at the myopia of the buzzing hive. But that's what we are having to deal with these days.
In fact, a useful rule of thumb is only to read newspapers and listen to news that is two weeks old. If, upon reading doom and hearing scandal in these two week old ancient artifacts you turn to a companion and ask, "Have you heard about . . ." and they stare back blankly, know for certain that what you have been reading in the two week old media buzz is just a scandal d'jour, hive talk, fake news.
In fact, a very helpful corrective site is now operative in the United States. It is called Two Weeks Ago News. By assessing a story after a two weeks time lapse, the site exposes the nonsense of the frenetic daily bee swarms. Here is an example of the site's anti-hive medicine.
But, to illustrate how vacuous the production of the hive truly is, we had not got out of our car that evening before some were saying on air that the "released" Trump tax return had probably been released by Trump himself. The reason--because it showed him in a positive light. Then within a couple of hours later the story had become "certainly, actually released by Trump surreptitiously".
What a glory electronic and social media have become. This is war! And we all know what the first casualty is said to be in every war.