Fake News and Real News – Scenes from Life Under the Pandemic

by on August 12, 2020 · 18 comments

in San Diego

By John Michael Williams

Fake News

Though it is a Donald Trump, thing, I must admit there is an element of truth in it. Given that the guy might be able to out-lie Goebbels, it is odd, in a way, that he would call attention to it. After all, what point is there in undercutting the credibility of the media you use to publish your message? A sheer display of madness? Yet, he has been unmatched in gathering publicity.

To be specific, though, about personally encountered ‘fake news’ I offer this report.

When a business advertises itself as a source of factual information to the point of slogans like, “News You Can Trust” and so forth, then I expect that business to provide facts. Should it be  discovered that is not so, then confidence in the product drops because it isn’t actually news.

Not too long ago a local guy got the idea to have a parade of boats in San Diego Bay in support of Donald Trump, which was not designed ‘to divide the nation.’ When the supportive citizen publicly announced the event he claimed there would be ‘hundreds of boats and thousands of people.’

Reports on a local TV news that evening gushed about the event and repeated what the organizer had said: ‘not designed to divide the nation’ and ‘hundreds of boats and thousands of spectators’.

Having a fair amount of experience on San Diego Bay, and thereby a fair idea of its size, the promise of hundreds – meaning no less than 200, yeah – of boats parading on the bay was a sight I wanted to see. I had no interest in the “thousands” of onlookers.

About 12:15 on the afternoon of the parade I parked my car on the east facing side of Pt. Loma on Ullman Street with the sun behind me and a perfectly unimpeded view in front of me overlooking the parade’s starting point, and then waited for it to begin.

I was going to count water craft of any kind that passed the start mark. From paddle boards to motor yachts, from the beginning at 12:30 when the lead boat moved past the starting point to the end – around 1:30. After 15 minutes of no more boats – a grand total of 80 water craft passed the starting point. What a disappointment. Even so, it did make a good-sized and mutually cooperative crowd.

Having muddled through public education I was able to calculate that if 80=200 (# of boats in ‘hundreds’), then 400=2000 (# of spectators in 1000s). To be fair, cars are a lot more common than boats so the equations don’t balance in that regard. Much higher estimates or actual counts of spectators could be correct.

Anyway, reports on local TV news that evening continued the fluff about the event and said, ‘there were hundreds of boats and thousands of spectators.’

‘News you can trust to have pretty smiles.’

Later reports from the same local TV news suggested that lots and lots of Tik-Tok users had registered for the boat parade without any intention of attending, for what it’s worth.

Real News

As I sat in my room the other morning around 10, I began to hear shouting from the street behind our house. This has happened before and it didn’t alarm me. Quite often on summer evenings, the parents and children from one of the houses spend a good deal of time playing something in the street which is accompanied by shouts of glee and demand and laughter. It all sounds quite active and fun. I hear these events clearly, their sounds travel only about 60 feet.

But the shouts this morning were less pleasant. ‘Fuck you!’ I heard very loud. ‘Fuck you!’

‘I’ve got my son right here!’ from another voice.

‘I don’t give a fuck- get outta here.’ from the same voice.

Now, I think I’m hearing a domestic dispute involving child custody. The language and the tenor of the voices was angry and threatening and I’m led to think violence might be possible.

I hopped into my car drove around the corner and up three or four houses to see what was going on. There, I encountered a small blue sedan crosswise in the street. The driver was a young – 25 something – woman with her side toward me and her window down. She was trying to turn around. Our eyes met and I shouted, “What’s going on here?”

She said nothing and returned to maneuvering the car. She shouted ‘Back up!’ without looking at me. Before I’d processed and initiated a response, she’d finished getting ready to go and was heading purposefully up the street.

In the meantime, I saw in the street two not particularly tall but nonetheless still somewhat imposing White guys confronting a single, taller, thin Black guy wearing a red knitted cap, dark T-shirt, jeans and tennies. He had  a red-painted 2×4 about 6 foot long in his left hand.

The White guys were look-a-likes; the taller and heavier was about 5’7 and 170 lbs; he was thick chested and big armed. His head and cheeks were shaved bald but a well-trimmed full brown beard flowed from his mustache, around the mouth and down to his midchest. He wore a light colored T-shirt with some image on it and tan shorts. His cohort was 2 or 3 inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter. He wore a dark blue T-shirt and gray shorts: same build, bald head and full beard.

They were herding the Black guy backward up the street while a cigarette-smoking, older woman with her left arm folded across her stomach watched from the sidewalk on one side of the street and a group of two women and one man watched on the other.

The Black guy seemed to be carrying the piece of wood as though it were material at a construction site. His hand was in the center so the board hung parallel to the ground.

‘You don’t belong here! Get the fuck outta here!’ Big guy shouted. ‘Whataya doin’ here? Why are you here?’ he continued.

‘Don’t put me in a situation where I’m gonna have to hurt you.’ the Black guy said.

And then in an underhanded toss, he threw the 2×4 onto the grass parkway.

‘Oh. You’re gonna hurt me?’ The big guy’s voice managed to sound as though he, big guy, was making an invitation.

I moved forward slowly as the action evolved in front of me. The Black guy was retreating and also in need of a ride. So, our eyes meeting, I pointed to him and then to the rider seat.

By this time though, the young woman had moved past the White guys toward the retreating Black guy and had swung the rider side door open. Into the car he quickly jumped and off they sped. It was not at escape speed, just 35 or so up the narrow residential street. The Black guy stuck his entire torso out of the window to look back, shake his fists, and shout barely heard threats, epithets and taunts.

The taller bald guy finished his discourse with ‘Fuck you, N—–!’ and turned home thinking what a good day’s work he’d done, I suppose. The onlookers turned to talk about the event.

I drove home. Clearly, though I heard something that sounded like “son,” but that was not the word said. The word said surely would have been “gun”.

Had the big guy not used the N word, his performance might have been attributable to an over-zealous, over-protective homeowner insuring the security of himself, the others in his household, and his property. He might have thought, “Here’s an unknown black man carrying 6’ of 2×4 in front of my house. What’s he doing here? What might his intentions be? I’ll go see.”

That decision could be classified as rational. But, that word, n—–, and the other one, gun, are the matches that light hate and fear so I don’t think he made that decision.

The next evening, my mate said to me, “What you saw yesterday isn’t what was going on. The police were called and they made a report about what happened.”

“What was reported?” I asked.

She told me two men were reported for bothering a woman.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie August 12, 2020 at 12:28 pm

John Mike has been around so long he wrote a few articles for the original OB Rag back in the mid-70s.


jmw August 12, 2020 at 8:03 pm

What’s this? An introduction?


Frank Gormlie August 13, 2020 at 9:03 am

What? You’re now feeling your oats with your post as the 2nd top popular article? (BTW, where did that expression come from -“feeling your oats”?)


Peter from South O August 13, 2020 at 3:53 pm

Oats are a “hot” equine feed (as opposed to alfalfa, which is a “cool” feed; oats are higher in nutritional content (and natural sugars) so feeding horses oats is like chugging an energy drink.
Yep. Horse feed. 1800s terminology.
I’ll show myself out.


Frank Gormlie August 13, 2020 at 7:10 pm

I had a feeling that’s where it came from; nah, stick around por favor.


Katie August 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Not dividing the nation?

Uh… yeah. That kind of antic is exactly what has happened to America.

As for the racists.. just because the President is one, doesn’t mean that the racists need to come out of the closet.

San Diego’s racist past has never left.


jmw August 12, 2020 at 8:02 pm

Katie, hi. I thought that was a pretty funny line, but my real point was intended to be that TV news is a whole lot more business than service. Don does seem to bring out the worst in some folks.Thank you for reading and commenting.


Geoff Page August 13, 2020 at 8:49 am

Nice piece, I enjoyed it. Not the subject of course. I have to agree that the news media today is nothing but a business with buxom women and Ken dolls and no time or interest in actually digging into a story. When I heard the estimates of the boat parade, I did not believe it without even going down there. Thank you for confirming that with your personal account.


jmw August 13, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Geoff. hi, Thank you for your kind comment. 200 boats seemed possible to me, but were that so I’d have expected collisions and people overboard because of the crowd. As it was, rails rubbed, but I did not see any problems, other than the point of the parade.


Geoff Page August 14, 2020 at 10:07 am

jmw, I believed your account because you explained exactly what you did. Providing the method used, so someone can decide if it is valid or not, and thus whether or not to have faith in the result, is an important part of the story. This is not anything normally explained by the news media. Certainly FOX would go with the highest number they heard anywhere, and conversely, those too far to the left would go with the lowest number. Both tendencies simply reflect politics. I personally would have been happy to believe that only two or three boats showed up considering my own political tendencies. Your effort did confirm what I hoped, but it put it into perspective.


jmw August 14, 2020 at 11:09 am

Geoff, hey! The decline of news credibility is a bit depressing, but possibly, something new will replace it. Many people still want to know as much as possible about what is going on. Thanks for reading.


Geoff Page August 25, 2020 at 4:08 pm

The idiots at KUSI just posted a news item saying 2,000 boats are expected at the next t-rump boat parade and that there were 1,000 at the first one. The news item also said there was no registration for the event so how the hell does anyone know there will be 2,000 boats?! KUSI has shown it is not a reliable news station. The piece doesn’t even say when it will be held. And, there is no way to comment on their article that I can see. This is not a news station any more than FOX is a source of real news.


Peter from South O August 25, 2020 at 4:22 pm

Heck, they lost ME way back when John Coleman was denying climate change every night.


Frank Gormlie August 25, 2020 at 5:29 pm

Right? There’s a post somewhere here about how KUSI is San Diego’s FoxNews.


Peter from South O August 26, 2020 at 8:02 am

Out of curiosity (and a desire for self-flagellation, it seems) I looked up the ‘story’ on the KUSI website.
It’s a five minute infomercial, repetitious as all get out, and can not be construed as news.
Thank goodness we do not have a Sinclair Broadcasting affiliate in SD . . . they are like this all the time.


sealintheSelkirks August 14, 2020 at 4:32 pm

Good for you! Protect others who cannot defend themselves from violence. That should be in everyone’s rulebook for living civilized.

Unfortunately we do NOT live in a civilized country. It’s going to get MUCH worse as we spiral down I’m afraid. Be prepared to continue your response to need. I will, also.



jmw August 14, 2020 at 8:33 pm

sealintheSelkirks, Hi and thanks for reading. The days ahead seem almost certain to be cloudy all right. Take care and stay well.


jmw August 25, 2020 at 9:16 pm

Yeah, I saw this too. At least they’re consistently non-journalistic. That’s something we can rely on.


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