Once upon a time in the United States of America there was a thing called truth. Back then, truth was the scourge of every crooked, lying politician, and they often went to great lengths to hide that they didn’t believe in or practise the truth. As a matter of fact, those lying and crooked politicians pretended to be staunch defenders of the truth, just like Superman was when he defended “Truth, justice and the American way.”
Yes, and when those crooked politicians got caught practising something other than the truth it sometimes meant the end of their careers. Once in a blue moon they might get away with being caught shamelessly lying, but they never got away with it wholly unscathed. So they had to be very, very careful about concealing their deceptions. They had to make sure that nobody caught them telling lies, which was something they loved to do.
Here was their problem. Back then if a politician said he or she was going to do something and didn’t, or if they told a shameless lie and got caught, they’d get snitched on by the TV. That very night all four TV stations (back then there were only three network stations and a local channel) would broadcast the lie they told, and everybody would hate them for it. Some people who really liked the politician, like their moms for example, would choose not to believe what they said about the politician on the TV. But most people would believe it, because it was true. And that was that for their careers.
Today, of course, such a thing would be unheard of. Today politicians don’t just tell shameless lies on TV without any consequences. Today they openly declare that they’re going to steal money from old ladies and give it to their rich friends, they promote the use and sale of assault weapons even though children are being murdered by the dozens every day because of them, even though they get money from a big gun club called the NRA. They laugh at scientists who say the world is coming to an end because of fossil fuel use while shamelessly and openly taking money with both hands from fossil fuel companies. And dreadful stuff like that.
Some people, not too many but some, wonder how this could happen, how politicians in the United States of America could go from apparently loving the truth so much to not giving a crap about it in a single generation. They scratch their heads and they can’t figure it out. “What the heck happened?,” some of them say.
The answer, of course, was simpler than you might think. The answer was a man named Rupert Murdoch and a big bad monster he created named Fox News.
Rupert Murdoch was a man who was born looking 79 years old. But he never otherwise changed. He just got older and more evil, older and more evil. It’s as if he actually thrived on being evil. And he bought up TV stations all over the world and taught stupid people to watch the shows those TV stations broadcast. And they did.
Yes, and it turned out that Rupert Murdoch liked the politicians who loved lies and hated the truth. Those politicians, the ones that lived in America anyway, the ones who loved to lie, were called “Republicans.” And Rupert Murdoch told those politicians, those Republicans, that from now on it was okay for them to lie shamelessly any time they wanted to, because he was going to order his TV stations to never mention those lies.
They could even lie on Rupert Murdoch’s TVs if they wanted to, because the talking heads on those TVs would tell all the people watching that they weren’t actually lying at all. Instead, Rupert Murdoch ordered his TV stations to make up lies about politicians who mostly told the truth. Those politicians were called “Democrats.”
Yes, and it all turned out to work just fine, because the stupid people who watched Rupert Murdoch’s TVs never watched anything else. You’d think that the truth would leak out, that those stupid people would find out that their TVs were lying to them, that they’d get mad when they found out and stop watching them, but you’d be wrong. They never did, and any attempt to tell them otherwise got ignored. Like I said, they were stupid people.
And that, boys and girls, is why we are in the trouble we are in today. The monster called Fox News grew and grew and grew, and it got outside support from other evil people, people other than evil old Rupert Murdoch, people who noticed that a lot of money could be made in the lying business. There was plenty of money for all those evil people, and all those evil people got rich while they laughed and laughed and laughed at all the stupid people they robbed and swindled and murdered over the years.
So the moral of the story, boys and girls, is we have to learn all over again what the truth is. We have to stop letting evil people like Rupert Murdoch steal it from us. And we have to make sure our teachers teach us how to recognise the truth. Because without the truth, we are lost. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.