Barbarous Huns

 

Life is one long struggle in the dark.

– Lucretius

 

BALTIMORE – In January of this year, the Empire Herald reported that a “meth-addled couple” had eaten a homeless man in New York City’s Central Park. Later, Now8News reported that a can of cookie dough had “exploded in a woman’s vagina”; the woman was alleged to be shoplifting.

 

The fellows depicted above certainly mesh perfectly with the image of meth-addled cannibals conjured by our imagination… A few interesting questions regarding this event remain unanswered to this day. Did they marinate their meal? Fill it with stuffing? What were their wine and salad choices? Was their dinner roasted on a spit, cooked in a jungle wok the traditional way, or were these pale gourmets connoisseurs of wino tartare?

 

Tueasday’s big news: Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot and killed. The assailant looked a lot like a 21st-century version of Gavrilo Princip, who lit the fuse for World War I by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Bosnia. By the time it was over, 16 million people were dead…

 

An Associated Press photographer at the scene reports this man shot Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at a photo gallery in Ankara on Monday.The assassin and his victim, Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. While making the Travolta-like dance move caught in the photograph above, the assassin shouted “Allahu-akbar! Don’t forget Syria! Don’t forget Aleppo!”. Not a “moderate” rebel we would guess, but rather a sympathizer of assorted head-choppers. The assassination was photographed by several people and most of the pictures look like stills from a Hollywood movie. This gives the incident quite a surreal quality. It is as if it was staged specifically for the the evening news. No unfocused shaky-cam stuff forcing you to squint if you want to see something – these days, we get our daily snuff in high definition! Obviously, modern audiences demand and deserve certain quality standards. There have been rumors that there was more to the assassination than a lone nut going postal;  supposedly it was an attempt to drive a wedge between the governments of Turkey and Russia. If there really was such an objective, it has utterly failed, since they appeared to draw even closer after the incident.

Photo credit: Burhan Ozbilici / AP

 

We are writing a series on things that people think they know, but which ain’t so…  popular ideas that are wrong, dumb, or misconstrued, which is practically all of them. In the press lately, for example, is the idea of “fake news.”

Supposedly, there is true news, filtered, approved, and administered by the elite media establishment. And there is “fake news”, such as the deliberately faked stories about cookie dough and meth-addled couples at the beginning of this Diary.

And there is also news provided by Russian manipulators that supposedly cost Hillary Clinton the White House. Separating fake from authentic is what we try to do here at the Diary. But we are overwhelmed.

Half the news is fake, including many of the biggest stories you get from the major media outlets – and reports of fake news! The other half is just mistaken and/or misleading.

In the run-up to America’s entry into World War I, for example, the English cut the cable that gave the U.S. direct access to news from Germany. Henceforth, most of the “news” read by Americans about the war came via England, where it was heavily redacted.

The English spun tall tales of German perfidy and German atrocities – including nuns who had been mass raped and children whose arms had been cruelly cut off by the barbarous Huns. None of it was true. But it did its work; in 1917, gullible Americans rushed troops to join the war – on the side of the English.

 

How to persuade a population not interested in war-making to become all gung-ho and start baying for blood? Painting the enemy as a heartless child-killer is a good start…   putting civilians on ships carrying war materiel also works quite well if the bait is taken, but is a tad more cynical. Obviously, the truth is always the first casualty of war and all sides will spread plenty of lies and propaganda (usually it tends to be remarkably similar in terms of content).

Illustration by M. B. Walker

 

Different Shelves

News is rarely what it pretends to be. It is not a bloodless recitation of indisputable facts, like a list of the temperatures recorded at the North Pole. Instead, every bit of it is informed and persuaded by a web of ideas, myths, and misconceptions. Otherwise, the news would be meaningless.

Every day, millions… no, billions and zillions of things happen. The Roman poet Lucretius, way ahead of his time, described life as particles in random collision. Mr. Jones says something to Mr. Smith… a cold breeze blows across the public parks of Duluth… a bird flies into a window pane in Georgia.

If you really wanted to report what happened, you’d have an infinite amount of material. Obviously, you couldn’t do that. Even if you knew what had happened. So, you apply some artificial standards,  some “categorical imperatives,” as Kant called them. You try to make sense of the world and its goings on by labeling things and putting them on shelves.

 

Titus Lucretius Carus (99 BC – 55 BC), author of “de rerum natura” introduced Rome to Epicurean philosophy, which inter alia applied the atomism of Democritus in its own peculiar way.

 

It is one thing for a man on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, to kill another man in the heat of passion. It is quite another for a man in Ankara to gun down the Russian ambassador. Both involve passions. Both involve men. Both stories end with a corpse. But the former is not newsworthy. Different shelf.

The media decides. It tells us that whatever Mr. Jones said to Mr. Smith, it is not worth reporting. It leaves the cold breeze story to The Weather Channel. As for the poor little bird, who gives a damn?

 

Purveyors of Puffery

Your editor has been the subject of news stories from time to time. Unless the article was pure puffery, intended merely to flatter or entertain, the reporters missed the point or misconstrued the facts in such a way that the reader knew less after he had read the article than before.

In one sad instance, an ex-employee committed suicide, distraught over a personal problem. It happened at a time when one of our groups was being investigated by the SEC. (The case ended up as a legal fascination – complicated, but inconsequential – and later largely repudiated by the courts).

The ex-employee was in no way associated with the alleged wrongdoing. And the infraction had nothing to do with the SEC’s usual beat – front-running or market manipulation. But the reporter couldn’t resist: “Suicide at Troubled Baltimore Publisher,” read the headline.

The reader was left to conclude that the poor fellow offed himself because he was implicated in a trading scam that had never happened or even been alleged. In another article in the 1980s, your editor was named as part of a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” He had been the director of the National Taxpayers Union, earnestly trying to fight waste in government.

Later, he had hired a private investigator to look into the curious death of Hillary Clinton’s law partner, Vince Foster. And now he was criticizing the Clinton administration! The reporter linked us together with other Clinton critics and provided a common cause that never existed.

 

WWN’s valiant efforts to counter the fake news epidemic by spreading real news for many years clearly deserves belated recognition. As to the Washington Post: what makes its clumsy propaganda piece extra funny is that it actually used a fake news story to decry alleged purveyors of fake news. This has helped the post-electoral whining in the US reach fresh heights of absurdity. We have to admit we stand in awe of this spectacle. It testifies to a surfeit of unbridled chutzpa and stubborn information-resistance we simply never suspected to exist. Unfortunately there is a dark side to all the fun. In the US the first amendment has proven quite resilient over time, in spite of being frequently attacked. The same cannot be said of Europe, where politicians are already using the completely made up fake news hysteria to push for new restrictions on speech (more on this soon).

 

And now, The Washington Post, owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has accused a number of websites and opinion blogs of purveying fake news, some of it fed to them by Russian agents!

Yes, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Contra Corner, CounterPunch – websites run by former Wall Street Journal editors, former congressmen, former Reagan-era officials, left, right, libertarian – and dozens of others were named. Several of them republish our comments.

We’re proud to be among them…

 

Image captions by PT

 

The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.

 


 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

One Response to “Fake News? It’s All Fake!”

  • Hans:

    The Onion has reported that for the new year
    it will publish another addition called Green Onions.

    This new website will be for Enviro Freaks especially
    carbon and renewable energy motley fools.

    The Chief in Editor will be Benny Hill Jr.

    Happy New Year – all you Deplorable.

    Can I say that Rotham got Trumped?

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • America Goes Full Imbecile
      Credit has a wicked way of magnifying a person’s defects.  Even the most cautious man, with unlimited credit, can make mistakes that in retrospect seem absurd.  But an average man, with unlimited credit, is preeminently disposed to going full imbecile.   Let us not forget about this important skill...  [PT]   Several weeks ago we came across a woeful tale of Mike Meru.  Somehow, this special fellow, while of apparent sound mine and worthy intent, racked up...
  • Retail Capitulation – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Small Crowds, Shrinking Premiums The prices of gold and silver rose five bucks and 37 cents respectively last week. Is this the blast off to da moon for the silver rocket of halcyon days, in other words 2010-2011?   Various gold bars. Coin and bar premiums have been shrinking steadily (as have coin sales of the US Mint by the way), a sign that retail investors have lost interest in gold. There are even more signs of this actually, and this loss of interest stands in stark...
  • Credit Spreads: Polly is Twitching Again - in Europe
      Junk Bond Spread Breakout The famous dead parrot is coming back to life... in an unexpected place. With its QE operations, which included inter alia corporate bonds, the ECB has managed to suppress credit spreads in Europe to truly ludicrous levels. From there, the effect propagated through arbitrage to other developed markets. And yes, this does “support the economy” - mainly by triggering an avalanche of capital malinvestment and creating the associated boom conditions, while...
  • Gold Divergences Emerge
      Bad Hair Day Produces Positive Divergences On Friday the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China was apparently escalated by a notch to the next level, at least verbally. The Trump administration announced a list of tariffs that are supposed to come into force in three week's time and China clicked back by announcing retaliatory action. In effect, the US government said: take that China, we will now really hurt our own consumers!  - and China's mandarins replied: just you wait, we...
  • Industrial Commodities vs. Gold - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Oil is Different Last week, we showed a graph of rising open interest in crude oil futures. From this, we inferred — incorrectly as it turns out — that the basis must be rising. Why else, we asked, would market makers carry more and more oil?   Crude oil acts differently from gold – and so do all other industrial commodities. What makes them different is that the supply of industrial commodities held in storage as a rule suffices to satisfy industrial demand only for a...
  • Chasing the Wind
      Futility with Purpose Plebeians generally ignore the tact of their economic central planners.  They care more that their meatloaf is hot and their suds are cold, than about any plans being hatched in the capital city.  Nonetheless, the central planners know an angry mob, with torches and pitchforks, are only a few empty bellies away.  Hence, they must always stay on point.   Watch for those pitchfork bearers – they can get real nasty and then heads often roll quite literally....
  • Lift-Off Not (Yet) - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Wrong-Way Event Last week we said something that turned out to be prescient:   This is not an environment for a Lift Off Event.   An unfortunate technical mishap interrupted the latest moon-flight of the gold rocket. Fear not true believers, a few positive tracks were left behind. [PT]   The price of gold didn’t move much Mon-Thu last week, though the price of silver did seem to be blasting off. Then on Friday, it reversed hard. We will provide a forensic...
  • Merger Mania and the Kings of Debt
      Another Early Warning Siren Goes Off Our friend Jonathan Tepper of research house Variant Perception (check out their blog to see some of their excellent work) recently pointed out to us that the volume of mergers and acquisitions has increased rather noticeably lately. Some color on this was provided in an article published by Reuters in late May, “Global M&A hits record $2 trillion in the year to date”, which inter alia contained the following chart illustrating the...
  • Cryptocurrency Technicals – Navigating the Bear Market
      A Purely Technical Market Long time readers may recall that we regard Bitcoin and other liquid big cap cryptocurrencies as secondary media of exchange from a monetary theory perspective for the time being. The wave of speculative demand that has propelled them to astonishing heights was triggered by market participants realizing that they have the potential to become money. The process of achieving more widespread adoption of these currencies as a means of payment and establishing...
  • The Fed's “Inflation Target” is Impoverishing American Workers
      Redefined Terms and Absurd Targets At one time, the Federal Reserve's sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.   Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently does not see the pernicious effects...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Dog Blow

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com