How often do you read or listen to the radio, television or an internet news publication and then almost immediately stop and think to yourself, “What the heck, are they serious?” In my case, it’s usually ‘Whaaaa?,’ followed by my internal monolog of ‘I’ll take ‘Things that Didn’t Happen for $200, Alex’.
This surprise at the facts seems to be happening to me with ever increasing velocity. Lately, I read about untrue race hoaxers with increasing regularity, those graduates of the Al Sharpton School of Inflammatory Lies; people like Twanna Brawley, Jussie Smollet, Dauntarius Williams (as reported by the Wichita Eagle) or the yet-to-be-named idiot who single-handedly shut down the Albion campus, reported in the American Crisis. I just shake my head in disbelief. Why, how, who benefits?
Nasty stuff and it turns out its even nastier when false. Even if we find out it didn’t happen, it’s always investigated and reported as a hoax way too late; the lie about what didn’t happen is already embedded into the lexicon of popular culture and could be fueling the next round of those ‘mostly peaceful’ protests. Damage done.
The ‘news’ organizations? They seem to pass on as much uninvestigated dreck as those who start the falsehoods. Two plus years of Russian/Trump campaign collusion sound familiar? Good little lad Treyvon Martin vs. that awful white-Hispanic George Zimmerman, anyone?
Government spokespersons? Ever force yourself to sit through a White House press briefing? Hard to tell what’s worse; the implied narrative ‘question’ that rambles on longer than a broken Biden synapse or the dog’s breakfast of tangentially related factoids of an answer from the spokesperson at the podium.
I think to myself, where is that unvarnished source of truth that we so desperately need? Where can we go to get the facts, and nothing but the facts, about the events of the day? Didn’t we used to have a place like this?
Mr. Narrator (interrupts): “Richard Edward, you know who you are missing. Think a little harder about it and the name will come to you.”
Richard Edward: “Well, I usually say, when I see something that I think is bogus, ‘I’ll take things that didn’t happen for $200, Alex’…..”
Yes! I remember now. George Alexander Trebek, the greatest source of correct answers in the world. You knew in your knower that when Alex gave you the correct answer, there was no way on God’s earth that he was mistaken. Mr. Trebek and his merry band of fact gatherers were the best on the planet. CNN, MSNBC, CBS, FBI, NSA, CIA – you guys don’t have nutin’ on Alex and his gang.
Mr. Narrator: “I knew it would come to you, Richard Edward. Mr. Trebek was always one of your heroes. His intelligence obvious, his personality engaging and maybe most importantly, his ability to deliver the correct answer to the contestants who got it wrong was always gracious, without condescension.”
Richard Edward: “Mr. Narrator, we really need Mr. Trebek, or someone like him, in our world … especially in the world of news reporting. I need someone whom I can trust when I hear them speak. I want to listen to someone who can deliver good and bad news, without any bias. I want to listen to someone who will raise his or her own eyebrows when they read the news, especially when they themselves find the story suspect. I want someone who can admit that they didn’t know the answer or need more facts before they can give an answer.”
“Mr. Narrator, as I search the net and change channels on my LCD display, I feel like Diogenes, casting about in the world of news anchors and reporters, hoping for success before my candle burns out.”
Mr. Narrator: “Ain’t gonna happen Richard Edward. Nowadays, good news is considered to be fast news, truth aside. If you aren’t first, you lose.”
“No bias? Don’t you know everyone who isn’t a POC is racist? Yep, heard it on the news just last week. Can’t trust a racist, can we?”
“Solid sources? C’mon man, anonymous sources close to the _____ are so much easier to create and quote. You really think anyone is going to go on record in this day of cancel culture, anyway?”
“You want honesty, Richard Edward? Marry a lie detector operator. You want nothing but the truth? Well, even if a story isn’t completely true, ask any reporter why it’s better to be ‘directionally’ correct, to give the impetus to the narrative – they can always make adjustments for the facts as they appear, weave them into the narrative, at a later date.”
In my ‘knower’, I believe that Mr. Narrator is correct. Facts and truth have become causalities of speed and agenda. Is there any candidate in our culture who can wear the mantle of unvarnished truth giver? (I’ve got two people in mind, but the jury is still out on both and besides that, one of them is a lawyer).
Is that why Mr. Trebek was so popular? I mean, it was just a game show, right? Was it just his pleasing, engaging personality or was it something more? Did he become, albeit in our collective subconscious, our speaker of truth, our trusted voice, the source of fact? Who would you trust more back in the day, Mr. Trebek, Mr. Politician or Mr. Newscaster?
If, like Richard Edward and Mr. Narrator, you feel America needs a new, truth-teller-in-chief, please leave us a comment. Feel free to nominate someone in your comment and give old Diogenes a hand.
— Richard Edward Tracy