After the Fact: Believe it or not

In that I will believe anything that agrees with what I already believe, I am no different than the next dozen people you’ll meet. If someone posts one of those cute little “signs” on Facebook or e-mail or even in an advertisement that says, “Today is a good day to stay in your pajamas,” they’ve got my number. So to speak. We all know better than to take gossip at face value, and we probably won’t become vegans just because our best friend raves about how much better she feels and how much weight she’s lost with the new changes in her diet. But we will look at a picture of the latest in Big Mac fare and totally think the burger is going to be THAT big. Or, as the lady said, “Where’s the beef?” And if it has lettuce and a tomato slice, it’s health food.

Why should anything be “too good to be true” except the media has made it so. If Town and Country had an advertisement in today’s newspaper that said, “Come in and get the key to your NEW car,” how long would it take you to get through their front door? Would it be “false advertising”? Not necessarily. The ad didn’t say it was “free.” Happily, most of the businesses around here have learned that the best business practice is having customers who’ll come back and that isn’t going to happen if you’re not honest.

You’d think, after the last election, that we’d all be a whole lot more savvy about “media hype” and polls and what Whoopi Goldberg said but we persist. The excuse of my generation is that we grew up with radio newscasters like Edward Murrow, Gabriel Heatter, Eric Sevareid and Pathe News at the movie theater before the main feature.  We lived during “the Golden Age of Radio” between 1920-1950 when the family gathered around the radio to hear about Pearl Harbor, about VJ day celebrations in the streets of New York City (that’s “Victory Over Japan” day to you kids who barely remember last Monday let alone anything from a textbook) and the D-Day invasion (think I’m going to give you all the answers for your next history test? Look it up on Google.) There was NO question that we were hearing absolutely and exactly what was happening wherever it was happening.

The advantage of living in a small town (or a small valley) is having small (relatively speaking) newspapers. Reporters may make a mistake but it’s more likely a “typo” or an error in the information they were given in the first place. If Sylvia Lobato reported that 3,000 pigs stampeded through the courthouse in Capulin, you would know somebody, somewhere made a mistake. There might not even be 3,000 pigs in all of the San Luis Valley. And Sylvia isn’t likely to make up the facts just for fun and giggles.

The reporters for the newspapers around here are pretty honest, forthright folks who still believe you’d rather hear the truth than read a fictionalized account of whatever it is that’s happening in Hooper. They’d give you the truth about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. except all of that news comes from sources they can’t control and don’t even believe themselves on occasion. As to anything I might say, there’s a carefully worded “disclaimer” that says the newspaper may not believe a darned thing I write and it’s not responsible for any of it, anytime. But take my word for it: today really IS a good day to stay in your pajamas. Unless you are putting out fires or giving out pills or writing up speeding tickets. Sometimes, Saturday is a good day to get dressed and get to work. 

Oh, and if you HAPPEN to give me a speeding ticket, not even the judge is going to believe it but you’ll be in good company with a whole bunch of folks who report the news we all watch daily and know we’re being dished out a bunch of cow pie. A la mode.