Short Story/Serial Monday – Fake News


Here is a quickie for this week. I thought I would have some fun with the recent trend toward calling stories fake news based on political leanings. I was careful not to use the current president or even mention him by name as I set this story in the future.

I hope you enjoy this little tale. You can check out the rest of my short stories and serials by clicking the links.


Rolled newspaper with the headline Fake News

Marian Grumberg waited in the lobby of the Federal News Bureau or the FNB. She had written a story about the President’s trip to Asia and was waiting for approval. Ever since this branch of government had been established, every news story that was filed for national media outlets had to go through the scrutiny of government ‘Public Relations Specialists’. Her stories usually got through because she conformed to the rules. The rules were extensive, but the newspaper for which she worked, the D.C. Gazette had special software to ‘scrub’ stories before they were submitted. The app mirrored the rules and protocols that the FNB had established. It had to be constantly updated as the rules changed constantly.

During this particular trip, the president had a closed door meeting with China’s leader, They emerged smiling and shaking hands, With only an interpreter in the room, the sanctioned news media was not privileged to the conversation that was held. The topic of the conversation was referred to by the President as ‘trade stuff’. When pressed further he said, “When the American people need to know, I’ll tell them.”

This was the attitude of elected officials for the last three presidents. It started in the second and third decades of the 21st century. More and more restrictions had been placed on the media until, in 2023, the First Amendment was modified with a few choice words. The original text read:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A subtle change was made via executive order. The modification in the second line read:

 

…or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the ability of the press to report the truth; or the right…

 

Because the president’s party controlled both house of Congress and the majority of justices on the Supreme Court, his ability to do this was affirmed despite massive public protest and strong opposition by the minority party.

On the heels of the change, the FNB was established and news agencies were forced to submit stories to the agency prior to the going public or they were faced with crippling fines and potential criminal charges. CNN was the first network to be dissolved when it resisted the new regulations along with The Washington Post. Other news organizations saw resistance as a losing battle and did their best to represent the truth in what they reported.

In the beginning, stories were edited vigorously and rejected by the FNB. This was when many journalists discovered the difference between reporting the truth and reporting what was to be accepted as the truth. Shades of the book 1984 by George Orwell began to be talked about. Unfortunately, stories noting the similarities were not allowed.

Now, ten years after the amendment had been ‘amended’, Marian had dutifully turned in her stories for the past five years. It had been nearly two years since a single word had been changed in her stories. She had a reputation as a reporter that followed the rules and had been cited by the President himself as one of the ‘good ones’.

Today was no different. Only ten minutes after turning in her story on the Asia trip, she received a text telling her that her story was approved for publication.. As she glanced at her phone she smiled to herself. Another story successfully filed. Another victory for the JFT.

********

The web site, bensluckynumbers.com was heavily trafficked. The site was very simple. It posted groups of 12 numbers that corresponded with the government’s new federal lottery program. Lucky winners could win up to a billion dollars by matching all twelve numbers. There had been two winners in the ten years that the program had been in place and one of them, just one year ago, had used numbers found on the web site.

The site gathered little attention except for the fact that it had over a million visitors each day. This was chalked up to the quest to win the life-changing lottery and the fact that a winner had visited the site.

********

President Visits Asia

By Marian Grumberg

 

The President’s trip to Asia was a complete success. He met with President Ji of  China for over an hour. The two emerged with what is being called an idiot-proof trade plan that will benefit the two countries with shared benefits for all men and women in both countries. The President’s strategy of meeting only with the interpreter and the Chinese Leader indicates that he is confident and working to prevent harm to the American people. It is believed that he pave the way for the selling of goods to all of Asia that will result  benefits for all of us and will raise us up as a river of money will soon be flowing into our pockets.

 

Marian shuddered as she read the story, but she knew that the story within the story would promote the message of the JTF.

********

Otto Brockmeyer logged on to bensluckynumbers.com. The innocuous landing page had its usual message and disclaimer.

 

Welcome to Ben’s Lucky Numbers.

Please keep in mind that this site is only for entertainment purposes.

 

TODAY’S LUCKY NUMBERS ARE:

1,13,26,29,30,37,38,44,46,50,58,62,64,77,86,100,105,107,108

 

As Brockmeyer applied the lucky numbers to Marian’s story, the story within the story emerged:

 

The President’s trip to Asia was a complete success. He met with President Ji of  China for over an hour. The two emerged with what is being called an idiot-proof trade plan that will benefit the two countries with shared benefits for all men and women in both countries. The President’s strategy of meeting only with the interpreter and the Chinese Leader indicates that he is confident and working to prevent harm to the American people. It is believed that he pave the way for the selling of goods to all of Asia that will result  benefits for all of us and will raise us up as a river of money will soon be flowing into our pockets.

 

Brockmeyer chuckled to himself as he reread Marian’s story with the numbers applied to it. He quickly texted her to congratulate her, as the editor of the D.C. Gazette, for her wonderful story.

 

Brockmeyer was the founder of the JTF or Journalists for Truth. The D.C. Gazette and other ‘trusted’ news organizations around the country had been using this simple code to create a groundswell that would soon turn the tide of the government. It the past five years, a movement of over 70 million Americans had quietly organized and were set to take the country back by storm in the next election.

 

24 thoughts on “Short Story/Serial Monday – Fake News

  1. Pingback: Short Story/Serial Monday – Fake News — Author Don Massenzio – Matthews' Blog

  2. Awesome story! I have two degrees in journalism, and it pains me to see how the media are harpooned on a daily basis. It also causes me pain to see how people and organizations in the media (that support both parties) deserve so much of the criticism. The vetting and reporting of truth and news is definitely a complicated issue, and I wish more people would take the time to understand it. Thank you for an amazing piece. Reblogging it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Writers showcase, August 27, 2018 – The Write Edge Writing Workshop by Ekta R. Garg

  4. Pingback: Short Story/Serial Monday – Fake News – wolfpug

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