In keeping with the theme of The Smoky Mountain News spoof awards in this week’s edition, I thought now might be a good time to talk to you about fake news.

News stories deliberately crafted to mislead people are nothing new; an 1835 New York Sun newspaper offered evidence of life on the moon, for example. While that story was aimed at boosting circulation, the recent U.S. presidential election revealed the ability of fake news to influence popular opinion, as popular opinion properly galvanized can start wars and swing elections. 

In 2016, untrue stories about both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — borne upon the cruel winds of social media — travelled farther and fostered disinformation more effectively than ever before. 

Whether published by foreign nations — as some members of the U.S. intelligence community believe — or disgruntled domestic partisans or people just looking to make a fast buck, these false stories became daily discussion fodder around America’s proverbial water coolers. 

Unfortunately for Western North Carolinians, we live in an overlooked, out-of-the-way place that, politically, is not in play — it’s what’s called “safe Republican,” meaning that no amount of electoral combat short of redistricting could probably displace our Republican legislators and congressmen. 

As a result, it went practically uncontested in 2016, so there were no fake news stories written about the year’s doings in our region; not that there weren’t doings. In fact, there were many doings, and I thought it would be fitting to conjure up a handful of Onion-esque fake news stories about local and state issues you’ve followed all year long.  

Keep in mind, these are fake. There’s not an ounce of truth to them. At all. 


Fake* News Stories (which are fake)

*These fake stories are fake.


WCU accepts another huge corporate donation 

To be renamed ‘Kanye Western Carolina University’

After Western Carolina University accepted a controversial $2 million donation from the Koch Foundation earlier this year, university administrators sent a strong message that such gifts wouldn’t influence the university’s academics or image. But after another substantial donation — this time from Kanye West’s DONDA Corporation — the university announced it would change its name to make the school seem more “fleek” and “yeezy” to today’s generation of applicants. 


N.C. teachers complain about education funding

“We’re overpaid, overfunded; have too many school supplies, too few students,” said all

Educators in North Carolina are up in arms over what they say are “excessive” resources being devoted to public education in the state. Teachers groups are outraged over how much money they earn, how much funding the state devotes to students, the “huge stacks” of school supplies clogging up storage closets and the small class sizes that allow for more individualized attention. State legislators vowed to address teachers concerns quickly. 


SMN adds special section

‘Living Well’ to be immediately followed by ‘Snacking Well’ 

Hoping to present a more balanced content model to its loyal readers, The Smoky Mountain News announced Wednesday that 2017’s “Living Well” special section — focusing on diet, exercise and general health — would be immediately followed by a new section called “Snacking Well.” Publisher Scott McLeod said the section would focus on Haywood County’s best “retail snacking environments,” but would also devote substantial coverage to taco salads and deviled eggs. 


North Carolina gay marriage now mandatory

“But I’m not gay,” say millions of liars

An overlooked provision in the 2014 General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper ruling has heterosexuals rushing to divorce courts across North Carolina. While it was originally thought that the ruling simply allowed same-sex couples to marry, state legislators last week realized that they were in fact in violation of state law by not being married to a member of the same sex.  


McCrory tearfully removes posters from governor’s mansion bedroom

RuPaul, John Waters suffer torn corners

After spending weeks awkwardly hanging around the governor’s mansion, Gov. Pat McCrory is finally getting around to moving out. Reports from Raleigh state that McCrory — who has spent the last several weeks in bed — has begun the emotional task of removing his personal effects from around the building. 

“I just hope I get my security deposit back,” he said, scraping a small strip of double-sided tape from the back of his bedroom door. 


137 Canton dogs found hoarding three humans

‘Inhumane conditions,’ says People for the Ethical Treatment of People

Shocking reports allege that almost 140 dogs have been keeping three adult humans in squalid conditions in a trailer on a property just outside Canton. The humans — all of varying ages and sexes — appeared to be in good health and showed no signs of malnourishment, but were brought to a makeshift shelter in a donated warehouse for delousing and observation. County health officials were hopeful that none would have to be euthanized. 


Special legislative session cancels 2017 eclipse 

‘It’s a tax,’ say House leaders

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Kings Mountain, praised legislative leaders last week after they passed a bill cancelling the 2017 solar eclipse that was to cut a swath of darkness through Western North Carolina this coming August. President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger, R-Eden, agreed with Moore, saying the eclipse “wasn’t good for working families” and was “an election year trick by Democrats designed to draw attention away from real issues, like which bathroom people use.” As usual, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is expected to weigh in on the issue.


Trump to build wall around Folkmoot

Will make Joe Sam Queen pay for it  

President-elect Donald Trump, in his strongest anti-immigration statements to date, vowed to build a wall around the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville. “They’re not sending their best and their brightest,” Trump said. “I’m going to build a wall, the best wall, I build the best walls, by the way. Very very good walls, I assure you.” Each year, the Folkmoot festival draws hundreds of visitors from around the world, sometimes even from (gasp!) Mexico. 


Billions of N.C. transsexuals still have nowhere to urinate

Been holding it since March

North Carolina’s largely transsexual population has been legally prohibited from urinating or defecating anywhere within the state since spring, and some are beginning to grow tired of the law and its rather unpleasant consequences. The Charlotte City Council’s recent repeal of an ordinance allowing the trans community to utilize certain bathrooms has only made the situation worse, but a repeal of HB2 doesn’t seem likely, given its global popularity and proven ability to attract jobs and investments to the state.


Haywood County gun possession now mandatory

New ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy to ensure compliance

Effective immediately, all residents of and visitors to Haywood County shall constantly be in possession of a firearm at least .22 in caliber or face stiff penalties from law enforcement officials. Persons found not to be in possession of a qualifying firearm will on first offense be issued a loaner pistol, but a second offense will result in scofflaws being remanded by deputies to the custody of one of several local firearms dealers. 


Junaluska Sanitary District now requires ritual sacrifice to Poseidon before water hookup

Arm, leg no longer acceptable forms of payment

After a rule demanding landlords co-sign for their tenants’ water service was deemed “too forgiving” by members of the Junaluska Sanitary District Board, a stricter, more classical provision was put in place demanding an offering be made to the ancient Greek deity Poseidon, whose domain includes all the world’s seas and all the fishes in them. Although the Olympian was unavailable for comment, the board says acceptable offerings include a four-horse chariot cast upon the waves or, alternatively, a Homeric hymn of at least 500,000 words. 


Waynesville embraces fast food-based economy 

Town changes town motto to “Eat Mor Chikin”

Shunning modern economic development principles that center around broadband access and sewer/water infrastructure, the Town of Waynesville announced this week that its concentration on retail fast food development was proceeding according to plan. The new Chick-fil-A in Russ Avenue is expected to create another 90 service industry jobs in the area for workers who won’t be able to afford to live anywhere near the restaurant. 


fr scoobyScooby Doo solves mystery at shuttered Ghost Town amusement park

Meddling kids remove mask of cornered villain

In an unlikely turn of events, several teenagers in a van — and one very large dog — have solved the mystery of the hauntings at Ghost Town. After a series of hijinks and a confusing foot chase through the creepy abandoned mountaintop amusement park, the spectral figure known to chase away thrill seekers and curious locals was revealed to be park owner Alaska Presley, who said she believed she would have succeeded in her nefarious plans were it not for the intrusive adolescents. 

Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley and Shaggy Rogers were booked into Maggie Valley jail on trespassing charges, with Rogers also earning additional charges for possession of 4.9 kilograms of marijuana. The dog, a male Great Dane, was sent to Haywood County Animal Services, where it had to be destroyed due what officials called “bizarre” behavior. 


Francis Farm community OKs proposed artillery range

‘Fits perfectly’ into community, say neighbors

Neighbors who once feared that a large indoor firing range would change the character of and draw undesirables to their quiet settlement were quick to approve the county’s first private artillery range last week. Starting Monday, citizens will be allowed to bring cannons, howitzers, mortars and rockets to the area and fire them wherever and whenever they like.  


Everything fine in Bethel

Yep. Everything’s just fine. 

Residents of the rural Bethel community were assured Thursday that everything was, in fact, just fine. It was widely reported that nothing new had transpired, and no changes had occurred to existing institutions at any time in the recent past. The existing social order had likewise not been altered in any way, shape or form, and no new residents or visitors — especially Muslims — had entered the community, nor had any alcohol. At all.  

Affordable Housing Task Force to crash at your place for a few days

A couch is fine, seriously. Just until, like, Monday or Tuesday.  

With rents outpacing wage growth across much of the region, the Haywood County’s Affordable Housing Task Force announced recently that it’s just going to chill at your crib for a few days if that’s cool. Sources said the task force — which has gone through a rough patch since the starter on its Ford Fiesta crapped out last month — just needs “a little time to get it together,” and that you’ll hardly notice they’re there. 


U.S. state settled for 450 years still doesn’t quite get whole ‘democracy’ thing 

U.N. to send election monitors to observe balloting in North Carolina

North Carolina officials were stunned when it was announced last week that the state no longer qualifies as a democracy. “I’m not sure how they could come to that conclusion,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “I mean, we’ve made some mistakes like any other state, but really we’ve only had two primary elections, an off-year state legislative election redo, gerrymandering from the legislature to Congress, a racist voter ID bill rejected, our early voting hours tweaked, regular Supreme Court intervention and Justice Department scrutiny, a last-minute elections board reorganization, two General Election recounts, and five special sessions this year. I mean, come on — loosen up!”

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