Op-EdColumnistsAskia MuhammadOpinion

MUHAMMAD: The Real ‘Fake News’

I’ll tell you about your real “Fake News” if you’ll bother to listen.

The real Fake News is all this celebrity gossip of which we can’t seem to get enough.

It all started with so-called grocery store tabloid newspapers (gossip sheets really). Then something happened on television. It was the O.J. Simpson trial, and every lawyer, the judge, news analyst, and wayward companion of Simpson became a well known celebrity/personality. One family — the Kardashians — is still trading off of O.J. fame.

Then, an outfit called TMZ started reporting celebrity gossip in the tube, only with actual footage of the stars to back up the reports. The show “went viral,” and is often the source of footage shown on the major broadcast network “news” shows.

So now, Hollywood and Broadway celebrities and champion athletes are the source of attention by most news media outlets just like elected officials. In fact, I wonder who would draw a larger crowd in Los Angeles, Rep. Maxine Waters or Taraji P. Henson.

Popular entertainers, celebrities, and athletes are not opinion leaders. They are not at all democratically chosen, and most are accountable only to their owners, the bigwigs who monopolize and manipulate all forms of the entertainment industries.

Too many of our young would rather be a no. 1 draft pick (in any sport) or an “American Idol” contestant than be a member of a town or city council, or serve on a school board.

We as a public are so celebrity-obsessed, and celebrities are so money-hungry that some trademark their own children’s names so they can market clothing and toy products in the child’s name. And all of this is dutifully reported to us via major, corporate-owned, online news outlets.

A life well-lived must be about more than simply luxury and comfort — admiration for those who have them in abundance, scorn for those who don’t.

So, here comes a president of the United States — arguably the most powerful man on earth, the leader of the free world — whose only claim to fame is his celebrity, his conspicuous display of luxury and comfort. But morally, he’s more like a slut, a person of very, very low character, but his core supporters still love and support him.

Too many members of the general public, in my opinion, view the ongoing wretched behavior of this president, the members of his Cabinet, and of course the icons of the hedonistic entertainment culture as being fit role models. That’s sad.

Now we see folks seriously talking about the possibility of Oprah Winfrey as a serious presidential candidate in 2020. While Oprah says “no way, Jose,” folks want to encourage her to run. Meanwhile, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), and Corey Booker (N.J.) are deluding themselves into thinking they might soon be viable presidential candidates, while GOP Sen. Tim Scott has no such fantasies in his party.

The idea seems to be, “put me in charge because I’m wealthy, good-looking, and very successful, so don’t you want to be like me?”

Meanwhile, the schools responsible for producing the next generation leaders are deteriorating from within — pretty remodeled buildings with no desire to learn inside. Administrators and teachers wind up excusing poor performance by schoolchildren, just so they can be promoted on to the next grade — a better outcome some folks reason, than pushing the delinquent students out of the schools, and into the streets as truancy cases. What to do? What to do? Charters, vouchers, money to line the pockets of the allies of the political victors.

All of the solutions proposed by politicians simply benefit a small cadre of political hacks and loyalists who swarm around the candidates, and who get the lucrative jobs, government credit cards and police-escorted motorcades.

But stories about such “whistleblowers,” as some are called, are often not believed, and suppressed. Those who come forward retaliated against with hardly any recourse.
The United States is crashing all around us. Fake news.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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