Monday, September 10, 2012

Where's Canada's Fognews/The Onion?

Good Day Readers:
No, no no not you just joking! Have to smile wondering how many Americans are taken in by the country's foremost fake news source. Regardless, you have to admit some of the postings are hilarious.

The image purports to show Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan disguised as caterers at the Democratic National Convention; the video Joe Biden on his way to North Carolina telling his rides, "He's always on the look out for travel partners he can share some weed, whites and whiskey" with.

Well, not to be outdone .....
The Fog of News
By Masha Green
Monday, August 27, 2012

MOSCOW — The best news in Russia these days comes from It’s a news agency — sort of — whose home page warns readers that the news is “new things we have made up.” It does so in Latin (nоvае rеs а nоbis соnfiсtае), though, so most people probably don’t notice.

There’s also much more to notice on that page.

Like the August 17 headline announcing that the nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flailing clown who has headed a faction in Parliament for 20 years, had decided to quit politics. “Journalists and reporters were struck by how different the politician’s manners and speech were from his usual ways,” the story went, describing Zhirinovsky as he made his announcement in almost-impeccable news prose. “Zhirinovsky was reserved and polite, and he did not wave his hands around or make other abrupt motions.”

If the fake-news outlet The Onion is a parody of American life, Fognews is the romantic ideal of Russian life.

Just three days earlier Fognews announced that Russia now had its first multidenominational church. How timely! Just when the government is driving a wedge between the church and the rest of us.

And on July 13 the site ran a story about the resignation of Alexander Tkachev, governor of the Krasnodar region, another notorious nationalist, who has denied any responsibility in the deaths of hundreds who died in the Krymsk flood earlier that month. Speaking soon after the catastrophe, he snapped at a reporter: “Do you think, my dears, that we could have warned each of you?” as though the very thought repulsed him.

(This, The Guardian reported.) Such a gaffe on the tail of such a failure would seem reason enough for a governor to resign. Fognews’ story that Tkachev quit circulated on the Internet for a couple of days — often accompanied by comments such as “Let’s see if this is true.” It was not.

The site’s crowning achievement was August 5, when it reported that the famously pro-regime conductor Valery Gergiev had spoken out in support of the jailed punk group Pussy Riot. The story claimed that Gergiev had interrupted a performance of “Carmen” in London’s Covent Garden to address the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the conductor supposedly said. “I am compelled to suspend today’s performance. I am very sorry to deprive you of the pleasure of hearing Bizet’s immortal opera, but I hope that you will forgive me. The thing is, yesterday Moscow saw another day of hearings in the fabricated case of Pussy Riot. …”
Valery Gergiev, a Russian conductor, denied the report by Fognews that he had interrupted his performance to voice support for Pussy Riot.
Valery Gergiev, a Russian conductor, denied the report by Fognews that he had interrupted his performance to voice support for Pussy Riot. (Ari Mintz for The New York Times)

“I apologize for such a vulgar comparison, but the Russian state is acting like a dominant male in a group of monkeys, compelled to show off his sex organs to make the others fear him. And he does not care whether anyone wants to look at this or not. So, respected Russian state: We are not monkeys. You cannot do with us as you see fit. We represent our country’s culture beyond its borders, and we do not want o be made to feel ashamed of you. I am a musician. I have conducted virtually all of the world’s orchestras. I know that those girls’ performance has nothing to do with music. Nor does it have anything to do with art. It has to do with freedom, without which culture, art, and music are impossible.”

Masha Gessen

Previous Posts

And on the famous conductor went, according to Fognews. Within a couple of days, the brilliant text of his ostensible speech went viral. Gergiev tweeted that the story was not true, but his denial got little attention.

Other countries have popular fake-news media outlets. In the United States, there’s The Onion, which stretches American reality to the point of absurdity; in Britain, there’s Private Eye. But Fognews does something altogether different: It presents reality as it should be. If The Onion is a parody of American life, Fognews is the romantic ideal of Russian life.

This makes sense, because Russians already get absurd news from their regular papers. Take Sunday’s top story, for example: Russian broadcasters were instructed that, effective September 1, they could no longer utter on the air the words “excrement,” “hemorrhoids” or “gay.”

Masha Gessen is a journalist in Moscow. She is the author of “The Man Without a Face,” a biography of Vladimir Putin.


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