Updated date:

Fake News: Why Didn't I Think Of That?

A Little History Lesson

Before I take you on a trip back in time, I thought I would bore you with a little history lesson about fake news. “45” is not the first politician to coin the phrase “fake news.” The concept has been around for quite some time, as a matter of fact.

Churchill is believed to be the first to use that actual phrase back in 1941, but the meaning behind the phrase has been with us since the Ancient Romans.

In the 1800s, fake news was delivered by “yellow journalism,” a phrase to describe any news outlet not terribly concerned with actual facts. We have a time-honored history of news agencies and politicians spreading false stories for various purposes.

So, my apologies to “45,” but his approach to manipulating the minds of the electorate are not unique at all.

Still, his Chicken Little screams of untruth got me thinking: what if I had knowledge of the “fake news” approach back when I was growing up? Could it have changed the outcome of events in my life?

Let’s take a look, shall we?

In need of an excuse most days!

In need of an excuse most days!

A Beautiful Swing on a Summer Afternoon

1960, August, I was two months shy of twelve years of age, and in love with baseball. You pick a date on that particular August calendar and I was probably playing a pick-up game with friends.

One summer afternoon, me and a few of my buddies were playing a game on the side lot next to our house on Monroe Street, the North End of Tacoma. We were having a grand old time when, about two in the afternoon, the pitcher served up a fat one to yours truly. I got my hips into the swing, all aspects of the swing were in perfect synchronicity, and the crack of bat meeting ball could be heard as the ball began its ascent in the robin-egg sky. It was one of those swings that felt good from hands to toes, the kind of swing that fueled a belief that one day I would be playing in the Major Leagues, and the ball soared over the heads of my friends, beyond the alley, over to Mr. Faucet’s property, and upon its descent it hit the side mirror of his 1956 Chevy perfectly, removing it cleanly from his car with a thud and tinkle and crash.

My friends suddenly had something better to do with their time, promptly waved and ran off, leaving me, alone, bat in hand, looking “tried and convicted” from two-hundred feet away.

I ran home!

Two hours passed. Three. Four. Dad came home from work, we ate dinner, I watched cartoons, and Dad went out to do some yardwork. I had successfully ducked the crime. The gods were, indeed, smiling down upon me. I was blessed . . .

Until Dad came in about eight o’clock, knocked on my bedroom door, sat down next to me, and told me that Mr. Faucet accused me of damaging his car with my mighty blast.

Now, I could have claimed “fake news!” I could have said something like “come on, Dad, Mr. Faucet is getting old; I mean, he wears glasses, and there is no way he could tell if was me that did that thing, you know . . . besides, do you really think I could hit a baseball that far? I’m not that good, Dad, ya know? It’s just fake news!”

I could have said all those things, and I might have skated on it, but I instead admitted my wrongdoing, and spent the rest of August and September mowing Mr. Faucet’s lawn.

A family that did not tolerate excuses

A family that did not tolerate excuses

Fat Pig

I spent a lot of my childhood and early teen years trying to fit in, and humor was my ticket to the popular clubhouse. I was a pretty funny kid, leaning on the side of sarcasm, and truthfully, some of the things I said to get a laugh were not terribly kind.

Mrs. Bicker ran the Dime Store a few blocks from our house. She was not a nice woman, and she was obese. She would always follow us kids around the store, making sure we didn’t shoplift anything, which we would never have done, and in our infantile minds it was insulting that Mrs. Bicker would think such a thing.

One day, me and a couple buddies, maybe ten years old at the time, purposely walked as fast as we could through the store, around store shelves, and just for fun we would duck down low as we walked so Mrs. Bicker had no idea where we were as she labored after us. At one point, as we were ducking behind a display of sewing merchandise, I said to my buddies “I think we lost the fat pig,” which of course made my buddies snort and laugh a bit too loudly, which led to us sprinting out of the store, our fun finished for that day.

Until dinnertime, pot roast on the table, me, Mom, and Dad eating in peace and quiet, when Mom mentioned she received a phone call from Mrs. Bicker at the Dime Store, and would I like to explain why I called Mrs. Bicker a fat pig, at which point I completely lost my appetite, sat in silence, and tried to imagine what words could pull me out of this particular fire.

I could have said “fake news.” Dammit all to hell, it was right there for the taking. I could have told Mom it would be impossible for Mrs. Bicker to distinguish my voice from the voices of my buddies. I could have pointed out we were hiding when those fateful words were spoken, so Mrs. Bicker couldn’t see who had spoken them, or I could have said Mrs. Bicker was mistaken, that what I really said was “look at that fat guinea pig in the cage. It’s fake news, Mom, I would never say such a thing.”

I said none of those things. I hung my head in shame as my dad, face growing redder with each second passing, informed me that his “one and only son would respect women, would never again in this lifetime call a woman a fat pig, and how would I like it if someone called my mother a fat pig?” And I spent the next few months volunteering at the Dime Store, doing chores for Mrs. Bicker.

Integrity was demanded by this man

Integrity was demanded by this man

So Many Other Times as Well

Broken windows, getting caught, broken rules, getting caught, tormenting the Catholic nuns, getting caught, lying to teachers, getting caught, not doing chores, getting caught, disappointing parents, getting caught, on and on and on, and little did I know, at the time, that all I had to say was “fake news” and all of the angst and punishment would be avoided. My God, I could extend it to my divorce and my alcoholic behavior, and an endless array of times when I had acted less than acceptable, gotten caught, and instead of simply skating by saying “fake news,” I admitted my wrongdoing and paid the price.

And I’m happy that I did!

TODAY

I sleep well at night in my seventy-first year. Regrets do not haunt me. I live a simple life, but it’s a life I built honestly and with integrity. I’ve made mistakes in the past, holy shit mistakes and little tiny mistakes, but they were my mistakes and I owned up to them, and I suspect that fact is the reason why I sleep so well.

And honestly, I can’t respect a person who does not own up to his or her mistakes.

I’m trying to imagine what my Mom and Dad would have said if I had been caught telling my buddies that it’s all right to grab women in their private parts if you’re a celebrity, or if they caught me talking like that and I told them it’s okay because it’s just “locker-room talk and all guys talk like that.” Could I have used the “fake news” excuse then? Or if I had mocked and ridiculed someone with a physical handicap, like I once saw a famous politician do during a campaign rally?

Probably not! In our household, if you did the crime you did the time, and no amount of screaming “fake news” would have saved me. Mock someone with a handicap? I’d still be restricted to my room. Talk with disrespect about a woman? “Your mother is a woman, Bill, do you disrespect her? Would you talk that way about her, Bill?” And then I’d be lucky if my ass wasn’t kicked.

I guess it’s all about good parenting and good old-fashioned respect for others.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 13, 2020:

Shannon, that's a great story with a powerful point. I would rather be punished than think I disappointed someone I respect. Seriously, no punishment is worse for me. I can chew on that guilt for a long, long time when I know I've let someone down.

Hooray for you and I, right? We learned something important while maturing.

Take care my friend!

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 12, 2020:

This was an interesting look into your childhood antics. That first one reminds me of a movie. I just can't think of which one off the top of my head. Even the second tale would make a good television comedy. One of those clean, family from your era. They don't make 'em like that anymore. In fact, they don't teach 'em like that anymore, do they?

We've all been there. Personally, the times I was caught and publicly addressed are the lessons that stuck the hardest even if I was justified in my excuse. In fact, one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned wasn't taught by a parent and I was never lectured about it, although I know she knew exactly who did "it" when she addressed the group of us. I participated in the work-study program in college and in my freshman year, first semester, I worked in the public relations office. The staff member in charge asked me to go through newspapers and gather clippings from any article that mentioned the school. I was rather bored, but doing the assigned task when a woman (who unbeknownst to me was my class dean) walked into the office. She glanced at me, looked me up and down, but I'd deduced she seemed friendly enough. She quipped, "Are you working hard or hardly working?" and I quipped back, "Hardly working." I don't remember what was said after that, but I erroneously thought it was just some friendly banter before informing her that the person she was there to see was in her office. You know, the kind you might make with a customer in a retail shop or a guest in a business you want to feel welcomed and comfortable there. As it turned out, though, the dean was anything but impressed with my good nature. In fact, she complained about there being a waste of resources with students getting paid to sit around. I guess the impression I left was one that said I was doing meaningless filler work. I ended up getting transferred to work in another department.

I was too embarrassed, at the time, to own up to the deed. Even though it was an innocent mistake, in that case. However, the lesson I gained was probably worth it. I wondered if things might've been different if I'd just spoken up. I mean, things worked out just fine. I was actually happier being a switchboard operator, doing work that didn't bore me and that allowed me to do my homework between calls, but I had that nagging sense of losing the respect of someone I respected a lot. (And a healthy dose of feelings of intimidation toward the dean. LOL) After that, I vowed that I would own up to whatever I did. Mistake or not. Embarrassed and humiliated or not. Now, twenty years later, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2020:

That's funny, Li-Jen! Thanks for the chuckle, my friend.

Li-Jen Hew on September 12, 2020:

Hi Bill. Thanks for sharing about your past mischiefs. They would make a good sitcom. If you did not admit to your mistakes, you wouldn't have advanced your skills in mowing the lawn and volunteering. Just kidding.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

55 days to go, Sha! Time to start praying. :) Have a great weekend!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 11, 2020:

Bill, I'm on your side, trust me. I just hope he doesn't weasel his way back in the way he weasels himself out of everything that should have led to him being booted out of office.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

Mary, I have no answers for you. It's a complete mystery to me how this could happen.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

It was pretty funny at the time, Audrey. lol It's still pretty funny! I wasn't laughing too much when I paid my penance, though.

Be safe, my friend, and love always

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

Linda, that particular episode would have killed the career of anyone else in politics, but somehow Trump thrived after it. It's a mystery to me, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

Liz, honesty takes as much effort as dishonesty. Might as well lean on the side of the righteous. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2020:

Sha, bite your tongue, please. He cannot win again! Cannot! I can't take another four years of his smug face laughing at us all, laughing at democracy, laughing at the fact that he is lining his pockets with money with no regards for the rest of us.

I love that story about Ernesto! Poor kid....NOT!

Be well, my friend! Vote early, remind others to do so. We are in the fight of our lives.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 11, 2020:

Even if we're not from the U.S., we can't help but follow the news and see how all these fake news played out. I'm still trying to understand how this could play out in a country with the best brains and the most resources. I hope it will end soon. The way we were raised, we could never use "fake news" as an excuse for bad behavior.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on September 10, 2020:

Poor Mrs. Biker! I almost "bit my lip" laughing at your escapades. Wouldn't it be fun if we all "fessed up" to some of our Fake News stories?

Brilliantly done!

Love you, Bill.

Audrey

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 10, 2020:

This is an interesting article that contains some good advice about honesty, Bill. Thank you for creating it. I have never understood why mocking a disabled person with video evidence of the event was not the end of the famous politician's career.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 10, 2020:

I admire your honesty in this article. It makes the 'fake news' mantra that some use too readily seem so much worse.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 10, 2020:

Hear, hear, Bill! I heard on the news today that our current POTUS admitted to downplaying the severity of COVID-19 because he didn't want to cause nationwide panic. WTF? He claims fake new constantly when he gets caught with his proverbial pants down. Does he not realize he's the bearer of fake news himself?

I agree with you. Admit to your mistakes then learn from them and do your damnedest to keep your nose clean.

I find it righteous that your dad made you help those you hurt as penance. When I was in 5th grade, the boy who sat behind me cut a big chunk out of my waist-length hair. His name was Ernesto Betancourt. My folks called his folks to report what he'd done. When asked why he said it was because he thought I had pretty hair and wanted a "souvenir". Guess what his dad did to make amends? He shaved Ernesto's head totally bald! Ernesto could have pleaded fake news, too, but in those days, you told the truth, especially when confronted.

As much as has gone on with the politician to whom you refer, I won't be a bit surprised if he's elected for a second term. I'm seeing too many bumper stickers supporting him. It makes me wonder why those people don't see the abuse and lies that are being thrown at us and the world.

Wake up, People!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Oh my God, Denise, you just reminded me of that old game. We played it too, thought it was quite funny, and then so regretted it when the parents found out. Honest to God, Denise, we once put a paper sack of dog poop on someone's porch, lit it with a match, and rang the doorbell, thought it was hilarious when the person came out and stomped the fire out, and paid for that with a month of punishment. So embarrassing to think about now.

Well, cousin, it turned out all right, didn't it?

Thanks my friend, and blessings always

bill

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 10, 2020:

I have long suspected we could have been family, maybe cousins as my parents weren't even married when you were born, but still... I was raised the same way. I remember trying to lie my way out of trouble but I, shall we say, have no poker face. I could never get away with "fake news." I remember playing ding-dong-ditch on a disabled lady neighbor once. My friends and I thought I was terribly funny hiding in the bushes as we watched her limp to the door. We giggled all the way home but my Mom was waiting. I was pretty ashamed of that and I paid for it too. Honesty is always the best policy even if it looks like some people are getting away with some "fake news" I am assured that it will come back and bite them on the butt. God is not mocked. You sew it, brother, you'll reap it in spades. Thanks for the walk down Family Lane.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, Umesh! Thank you sir!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lora! Hopefully this nightmare will come to an end in November. It should be interesting to watch after he loses, whether he is sued, or arrested. I usually don't wish bad things on people, but I might make an exception to that rule with Trump.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Lori, you had me laughing. I think I always got caught too. My track record was something like 0-200! LOL Seriously, I think my parents had some hidden lie detector. They saw right through my b.s.

As for new agencies yes, I agree, they all have their biases.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

No, he isn't, MG, but he's one of the few I've seen in seventy years who shows no contrition when caught lying. He simply doesn't care that he lies.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Times have changed, Rajan, and I actually find that sad. I do think we were raised well back then. Nothing wrong with a little punishment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

They would just deny it, Flourish!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

I agree completely, Dora! I do sleep well these days. I wonder how a chronic liar sleeps so well in a big old white house.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Exactly, John! It was the lie that always got me in hot water, not the actual event which led to the lie. All politicians lie, but most show contrition when caught.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

You and me both, Bill! We have to make sure we encourage people to vote. A big voter turnout usually means a Democratic win.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

I would never run for re-election, Heidi, but it would be fun if I was appointed for the last three months of 2020.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

Linda, every generation has its share of sociopaths.

Did I say that?

Yep!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

I'm with you on that, Pamela. I watch a half hour of news daily, just to make sure our president hasn't gotten us in a war somewhere. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2020:

I think that's an interesting statement you made, Devika....if you have a conscience. Indeed, my friend!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 10, 2020:

Very interesting account of childhood mischiefs and relating and categorising them under the bigger span of fake news even at national level. Good writing. I enjoyed it.

Lora Hollings on September 10, 2020:

I love your article Bill on fake news. I think we have someone in the White House who has perfected this claim. He is also very good at always pointing the blame on someone else. Obviously, he got away with it for a great many years and this is why he lacks integrity and a good character. And because you didn't try to cop out of your mistakes, and you didn't take the easy way out by lying, you now have integrity and a good character. Accountability is something which DT always seemed to be able to dodge. But I have a feeling that one day, it will come to an end and perhaps then, those that still say they support him, will finally wake up and see how deceived they were! It is all about good old-fashioned respect for others and accountability. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

Lori Colbo from United States on September 09, 2020:

Had you lied that would have been fake news too, LOL. Was the dime store on proctor st? I went to a dime store there.

I always got caught. I had good parents like yours who made me do penance. One time my high school girlfriends who lived on our street, decided to TP our friend next door's house. Some of the girls spray painted stuff on their driveway. In all the fun I thought I'd add my two sense and spray paint something cute on their white gate. I had to whitewash the gate, which means someone ratted on me as the culprit. I had to buy the paint from my allowance savings too. My dad handled that well.

Another time this group of girlfriends came over to my house and said "We're telling our moms that your mom is driving us to the beach, and you tell your mom that one of our moms is driving and we'll hitchhike to the beach. I thought it was stupid. Why stand out in the hot sun waiting for who knows how long to get a ride when one of the mothers would surely do it. But I had to be cool and agreed. Long story short, we were picked up by the police and taken to jail because there had been a rapist out picking up stupid teenage girls hitchhiking in their bikinis. My friends' parents came immediately and they didn't get in any trouble. My parents let me wait three hours, alone in that cell. I also got grounded for a few weeks. I can remember the shame I felt not so much by the hitchhiking, but the lie I said to my parents. I am grateful for their discipline. The other girls who always got away with stuff, didn't have parents who cared as much as mine.

As to fake news, it's on CNN, FOX, and all the others. It's disgusting. They create this crap and actually come to believe it. If it flits through their mind it must be true. I think the word journalist is a fake title. BS-ist is more like it.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 09, 2020:

Fake news is nothing new. In WWII the infamous Dr. Goeblles perfected this art. Its a nice article highlighting something that is universal. Incidentally, Trump is not the only one.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 09, 2020:

Times have changed and so have values for the parents and their children. Your articles made me go back to my childhood when we owned up to what we did. The ensuing punishment ensured we never repeated mistakes and became more considerate and respectful which is sadly very much missing today.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 09, 2020:

I wish every Trump supporter could read this.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 09, 2020:

Bill, your final statement is spot on, and looking back, it was also about self-respect. Who could live with an image of himself as a wilful liar, lying day in and day out without remorse? Don't think of an answer. Taking responsibility for your misdeeds has done you well. You're happy and you sleep well at nights! Good mental health comes with that.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 09, 2020:

I can relate totally. We were taught to always own up and tell the truth, respect women, and your elders etc. We were always punished more for lying than for anything we actually did. It seems some of our leaders are not setting a very good example. Great lessons here, Bill.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 09, 2020:

Anyone who mocks a disabled person or talks/treats women with utter contempt will never, ever earn my respect. I can’t stand bullies and people who think they are never wrong. It’s amazing to me that over the last almost 4 years we have had a leader who has never once admitted any wrong doing.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will be heading in a new direction in a few months.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 09, 2020:

Can you run for president? That is all.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 09, 2020:

Bill, you've got me spinning in circles on this one. My first impulse was to write "You and I were brought up in the generation that learned to accept responsibility." But then, I thought about the bad apple you are referring to in your last paragraphs. He is the same age as you and me.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 09, 2020:

I think you had very good parents. You weren's beaten, and the punishment fit the crime. I was a pretty good kid but when I was a teen I would get in trouble and get grounded. No beatings for me either.

I think fake news and dirty politics have been around forever. i remember when I was a kid and my parents watched Walter Cronkite. Looking back it seems he actually just gave the news with editorializing it. I don't think there is any news that isn't full of editorializing any more. I try not to watch much news for that reason.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

I won't make a prediction, Ann. My prediction in 2016 was woefully incorrect. Just cross your fingers that sanity is restored.

bill

Ann Carr from SW England on September 09, 2020:

I hope so too, bill, because it affects us here so much, more than you'd expect, sadly! Fingers crossed!

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

Bobbi, it seems to me I might have been a bit less than perfect growing up. lol And that's really being generous.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 09, 2020:

Lies makes you feel guilty if you have a conscious. Other than that be true to yourself and respect those who raised you. Good hub.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on September 09, 2020:

My mother had such control over my Baptist upbringing--I told her first when I did something she would not approve of to avoid being on restriction.

My grandmother called me her Angel. I tried to be--but never reached that level because my cousins and I were always in trouble. I might had needed the term fake news at some points in my life.

When I realized that not one single person is perfect on this earth and that we do not judge other--I began to grow in the right direction I hope.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

We can do this, Peggy! I believe that. I have to believe it. I'm not sure I can stay sane through four more years of this insanity.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

That's the trick now, isn't it, Ann? Spotting the lies and not believing them. I sure hope some of my countrymen start seeing the truth soon, like by November 3rd. :)

Have a spectacular Wednesday, my friend.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

That's the kind of buddy, Eric, we could do without, you know? Of course you do!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2020:

It was better in our household, Rosina. I sure see a lot of politicians who don't practice telling the truth. :) Happy Wednesday, my friend.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 09, 2020:

Like you, my parents brought us up to admit our mistakes and pay the price for any misdeeds. We would never have mocked a disabled person. We were taught to show respect to our elders.

We honored those who wore the uniform of our country, like my grandfathers, father, and both of my brothers. We were taught to tell the truth.

Somehow those old-fashioned values appear to be missing in some people. Let's hope that the majority of people still adhere to them and choose to live in peace and harmony with one another. We should choose those who reflect those values when it comes to voting them into office. We can do this!

Ann Carr from SW England on September 09, 2020:

Amen to that, bill. I wasn't too naughty but I made mistakes too, of course I did. When I did I got told off and was ashamed because I loved my parents and didn't want to disappoint them. And you're right, if you own up, you pay the price and it's done and dusted - penance paid and a good night's sleep, which is well worth it in my book.

This is a timely reminder to all, including our wonderful politicians, that lying doesn't pay- and I hope we can see through them all!

Enjoy your Wednesday, bill!

Ann

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 09, 2020:

Wait just a moment Bill I am with you all the way but I find it hard to believe you were never accused falsely, especially when a "buddy" lied and said it was you that scratched Mr. Bonner's car with your bike. Just saying.

Rosina S Khan on September 09, 2020:

Well, Bill, saying fake news for all your wrong doings and petty crimes wouldn't have saved you as you show that with good parenting, your parents would have caught you red-handed and you would pay the price anyway. It's best to confess and admit our faults and loyally pay the price. Isn't it? Happy Wednesday!