Robert Walker’s Weekend Wondering | OPINION, August 19, 2017

I READ a couple of articles the other day using the term “fake news”, but couldn’t twig just what the “news” was that was “fake”.

President Trump uses the term a lot but distinguishes fake news from “alternative facts”, because he is quite fond of using the latter himself.

“Give me an example or two”, I silently griped.

My wife was on the phone to one of her cronies saying, “Yeah, he’s talking to himself again” so, on my lonesome, I started to think of what might be examples of this oft-used but largely undefined phenomenon.

I knew that Buffalo Bill Cody’s sobriquet was fake (and the tall tales about shootin’ buffalo on the prairies) because there were no “buffalo” in the US.

Unless he started blasting away in a zoo, or took a trip to Africa of Asia, he never shot a buffalo in his life; but Bison Bill just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Maybe old Ruminant Bill was fake news personified.

Brit PM Neville Chamberlain stood on a tarmac after paying Herr Hitler a visit in late ’38, waving a tattered rag of “Treaty” paper in the air, declaring “Peace in our time!”

Twelve months later the world was at war – was that fake news or stupidity?

A few years later though, the Poms got their own back by dropping a body with the ID of “Captain William Martin” in Spain; with various items such as a receipt for a ring, a photo of his fiancé on hols in Bognor, a love letter or two and detailed plans for the allied invasion of Greece and Sardinia.

A few weeks later the allies successfully invaded Sicily; the Germans presumably having shifted resources to the fake locales.

That might have been using “alternative facts” though, rather than fake news.

The bloke who lent his body as “the man who never was,” by the way, was Glyndwyr Michael, a homeless man who died from eating rat poison – or so they claimed.

Talk of an Australian Republic might be fake news – only time will tell.

But all the sweat, fret and distress about how a president would be chosen are, indeed, fake.

Yes, it’s scary to think that Warney, Sam Newman or Kylie “the singing budgie” Minogue could be elected as head honcho simply because of popularity or, more likely, the Aussie sense of humour.

But all that worry is simply down to fake news that we have to have a president in the first place: to put it bluntly, we don’t!

Things would be just fine with the PM as top dog.

We might be fond of having someone in robes and covered with gongs to appear in Women’s Weekly, open fetes and get stonkered at the Cup, but only fake news assumes it a necessity.

Similarly with the “rainbow marriage” debate, a Plebiscite sounds jolly exciting but it’s easy to argue the fake news that it’s essential or the equally fake news that it would bring on the Apocalypse.

A few people have twigged to the fact that since any result would be “non-binding”, it’s basically just a way for politicians to weigh up how many votes they would gain and/or lose prior to whatever real decision they eventually plump for.

Anyway, a “Plebiscite” quickly devolved to “Postal Vote”; then “Optional Household Survey”.

When we’re told that it will also ask about brand preference for various grocery items, I’m guessing that will then be the “real news”.