The plane crash that took the lives of most of Chapecoense football club’s playing squad shook the football community to its core. Eulogies, tributes, minute silences worldwide and the posthumous award of the Copa Sul-Americana, the final of which they were travelling to contest.
It seems that wasn’t all. The Sun reported later in the week that nightclub attendee and occasional footballer Ronaldinho had signed for the shocked, mourning and reeling Brazilian team on a temporary basis, offering his wealth of experience and talent; a breath of fresh air in a perpetual news cycle tantamount to an explosion in a sewage treatment facility. A series of pictures on the Murdoch-owned red top’s website showed a typically wonky smile from the Brazilian playboy as he brandished the shirt of his new charges.
Except…except…none of this actually happened. Well, it did, it’s just the context, time and events that were out of place. You know, none of the important stuff. Ronaldinho hadn’t signed for Chapecoense. The pictures were from 2008. The shirt that the former Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG magician brandished was in aid of a lucrative tie-in – and charitable representation – with a vitamin company.
But it didn’t stop The Sun – “Britain’s widest read newspaper” as they will tell you again and again – from publishing the photos and the story sourced from unknown hearsay and jettisoning it toward their hungry public. The story has since been deleted, but that’s simply to cover their mistake. No admission of poor journalism or just a general apology for being a bunch of bastards will be forthcoming.
The Sun of course has more than a little form when it comes to the enhancement and massaging of the truth in the name of A Good Story. They’ve acquired such a bad reputation for blatantly lying that Twitter account The Sun Apologies – keeping track of their various indiscretions and aggressive wrongness – has racked up 32,000 followers in a short space of time. It joins the ranks of other such popular polite debunkers, who eschew rants and prefers to let the actual truth of the matter speak for itself. Similar accounts include Daily Mail Comments and The Media Blog.
From tiny lies like seagulls pecking a chip to bloody hunks of flesh like their decades-long Hillsbrough lying campaign, The Sun have provoked skirmishes and traded border towns back and forth with Truth. The Sun and Truth; Berwick-Upon-Tweed somewhere in the middle.
What with the furore and increasingly terrible reporting surrounding the ‘Fake News’ phenomenon finally sweeping the United States, it serves as a reminder that the notion has existed for a lot longer and in a state of mocking malevolence that has only increased with the passage of time.
If you happen upon a site called KillaryClintonLizardLies.com running headlines like ‘Obama Gay? Caught In Shower With Biden!” and have to consult the i-Ching to make sure you’re not being duped, then that is entirely your call. Turn the lights off when you leave too. The real Fake News (erm…) has enjoyed a long-term residence, especially in Britain.
It was only 12 and a half years ago that high-profile Court Jester for the Illuminati Piers Morgan fell hook, line and sinker for a set of hoaxed photos purporting to show the abuse and torture of Iraqis by British soldiers; contriving to raise tensions in a country already by then teetering on the edge of civil war, famine and widespread disease.
Morgan’s punishment for this easy and massive manipulation of the media and the British public was to become one of the biggest stars in US media and grant him the space to become one of the most smug, unlikeable people on the planet. It wasn’t easy, but we did it, guys!
As the United States sifts through the rubble of Donald Trump’s victory, the losing side pointing fingers at everybody and everything but themselves and STILL not understanding how and why they lost, Fake News is the new scam that will surely kill us all. This game of Blame Volleyball has seen play rally between Fake News and Russian Election Hacking (to be dealt with another time) with reckless abandon.
Fake News is here. It always has been. From the Yellow Journalism popularised by the New York World and New York Journal to the dangers of Breitbart and Drudge Report with the century plus of lying already slicked over the tarmac of life, it’s about knowing your source. Or indeed, knowing your enemy.
If Morgan’s precedent is to be followed, then we’ll probably see something crazy like Steve Bannon being given a position of importance in Trump’s administration. Anyway, I haven’t kept up with current events for a while, so I’m just going to have a long drink of water while I read the news.