Truth or Satire: Can you Tell the Real News?

Test your IQ (Idiocy Quotient) with this handy quiz!

In our zany world of politics, can you actually tell what’s a real headline, and what’s just political satire? I present some quotes from recent articles, and your job is to tell which of these are actual news events, and which are shameless satire.

Answer: True! According to the NYTimes, Johnson, who became briefly famous in 2019 after wearing a “Make America Great Again” wedding dress, is running against Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan, a Republican who supported the impeachment of Donald Trump. Johnson believes Mr. Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election, and said that she would work to audit voting machines, enact a national voter identification law and create more “transparency” in election results.

Answer: Both! According to an article in the NYTimes titled, Why Do People Want Jeff Bezos to Buy and Eat the Mona Lisa?, a petition with over 9,200 signatures, was started by Kane Powell, a resident of Stevensville, Md. “Nobody has eaten the Mona Lisa and we feel Jeff Bezos needs to take a stand and make this happen,” his petition reads.

According to the article, Mr. Powell came up with the idea for the petition — which, to be clear, is a joke — while at an Applebee’s with his fiancée and two friends before the pandemic. The group of four had dinner and started ordering from the $1 drink menu, and that’s when the ingenuity started to flow. “Jeff Bezos was in the news at the time,” Mr. Powell said. “We were like, ‘what if he bought it and ate it?’ It would be stupid and outlandish.”

Answer: True! According to a survey by PPRI (Public Religion Research Institute), more people believe in QAnon’s core theory that the government is controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophilic Democrats that Trump would clear out when he returns to the Presidency, than who are white evangelical protestants. According to the survey, 14 percent of Americans fall into the category of “QAnon believers.” That’s over 46 million people. Among Republicans only, that rises to roughly one in four.

While all of that is true and scary, the real fun begins when you break down the believers that aren’t Republicans: Twelve percent are independents, and 7 percent are Democrats! Yes, read that again. DEMS!

That means there are — gulp — 3,220,000 Democrats that believe that Democrats are satan-worshiping pedophiles, and that Donald Trump won the election, and that he will come back and clean things up.

Personally, I want to meet one of these three million Democrats. I can imagine how that conversation will go:

Me: Hey, Buddy! What do you think of those voting rights bills that Republicans are trying to pass to keep you from voting?

QAnon-believing Democrat: Oh, they’re probably right. We Democrats cheat on elections all the time.

Me: Oh really? So… Do you know anyone that cheated?

QAnon-believing Democrat: Well, no.

Me: Do you drink the blood of children the way QAnon believers think you do?

QAnon-believing Democrat: Well, I personally don’t, but I believe some of us are out there.

Me: Did you get vaccinated for the coronavirus?

QAnon-believing Democrat: No way, that whole thing is a hoax. It doesn’t really exist, and besides, it was created in a lab in China.

Me: Tell me, why are you a Democrat?

QAnon-believing Democrat: Cuz those Republicans are fuckin’ crazy, man.

Me: Ohhhh Kaaaay. I have to go catch a bus now…

Answer: Satire! Frankly, if you didn’t see this coming, you need to keep up with the news cycle. This is a satirical headline from Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker, making fun of the real news story that Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, claimed that Donald Trump will be reinstated as the President (of the United States) in August. If that’s not crazy enough, Maggie Haberman tweeted that “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August.”

But wait, there’s more! According to The Daily Beast, “sources said that the people close to Trump who’ve sought to dissuade him from talking about this publicly have counseled him gently and diplomatically, determining that pushing too hard could risk inadvertently nudging the mercurial ex-president towards actually talking about it.”

Answer: Satire! The conservative satirical website The Babylon Bee took yet another jab at the gender identity controversy by parodying the idea that people will willy-nilly identify themselves as whatever gender is necessary to take advantage of situational events. In the article, a fictitious person named Kendra Carson “announced she suddenly identified as male, just so she could avoid waiting in the lengthy line for the women’s restroom” at the Ontario airport in Canada.

In an unexpected twist of wokeness, the Bee’s article ends with Carson “going into her boss’s office to ask for a raise, and briefly identified as male so as to get paid up to 25% more for her work.”

Answer: True! Well, sort of. This is an excerpt from a NYTimes newsletter that commented on a paper published in Cell, titled, “Algorithm exploitation: Humans are keen to exploit benevolent AI.” Researchers warn that “the future self-driving cars or co-working robots, whose success depends on humans’ returning their cooperativeness, run the risk of being exploited.”

Their studies merely confirms what researchers have known for years: When people are placed in a situation where they can cooperate with a benevolent A.I., they are less likely to do so than if the bot were an actual person. Accounts of people at all ages, including, but especially young children, are highly abusive to robots, automated assistants and devices of all kinds that do even the slightest action that doesn’t please the human. Yet, technologists keep trying, investors keep hoping, and “futurists” keep predicting that AI will soon run our world — and that we will love it.



Politics, Media, Technology, Creative Writing

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