Fake, But Accurate

Over at Rob Port’s excellent blog, Say Anything, he has a contributor by the name of “Pilgrim.” (Why bloggers can’t just use their real names, I’ll never know.) He’s a damned fine essayist, solid thinker, and seems like a decent sort. But he got fed a story that was apparently “too good to check” — or, at least, check thoroughly — and it bit him on the ass.

it’s a hell of a story, too — the city of San Francisco, in order to help meet its citizens’ needs for medical marijuana, was taking a farm by eminent domain. I was reading it and composing my own tirade about it when I ran across one quote:

“This project is absolutely needed to keep San Francisco on the cutting edge of societal evolution.” This was supposedly said by San Francisco City Councilman Ted Brenner. That grabbed my attention, as “cutting edge of societal evolution” is, I believe, a phrase used most often (and quite possibly coined by) Rush Limbaugh. The idea of a San Francisco city official using that particular phrase to justify a city-owned pot farm seemed a bit too much.

So I started digging into the story. First, I discovered that San Francisco doesn’t have a City Councilman named “Ted Brenner.” In fact, it doesn’t have any City Council — it uses a Board of Supervisors. Also, only two outlets (beyond Say Anything) were picking up on this story — the site Pilgrim linked to, and a radio or TV station. (Now, it seems, a lot more people have “bit.”)

Well, I went to the horse’s mouth — the original article — and clicked on the “about” link. That’s where I found this quote:

About Us E-mail

Official News Agency is satire – social commentary through humor and sarcasm. No story we write should be taken seriously.

Even though you may find elements in our stories that are inspired by actual events, you should never make any conclusions based upon our articles, columns, or silly bits. Best to go read a real news story… although we can’t honestly tell you where to find one.

But let’s take a page from Dan Rather’s notebook on this one. Yes, the story is false. But does that make the underlying idea bogus.

Why did so many believe the story? Well, it’s not like San Francisco’s reputation is so pristine, so strait-laced, so responsible, that such a thing is utterly inconceivable. Well, judging by events of the last week, the notion that San Fran might want to own its own pot farm — and would trample all over the individual property rights to obtain it — is really not much of a stretch. And with the Kelo decision still fresh in people’s minds (the case where the Supreme Court ruled that communities can take private land and give it to another private entity “for the common good”), it all made a sort of twisted sense.

Hell, if it wasn’t for the Rush Limbaugh catchphrase, I was ready to bite.

Those guys at Official News Agency might give The Onion a run for their money. Their story on child donors to Democratic presidential candidates is also great (note the quote from “Cindy Lu Hu”), I can almost buy this story about Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, and this story has a nice double-zinger — hitting both Iran and China.

I think I’m gonna keep these folks’ site bookmarked. They have some talent. And conservative humorists are few and far between.

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