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The Onion founder says 'that's your fault' for believing invented news

WBFO's Mike Desmond

It is not difficult to be satirical in today's political environment, but it's not exactly easy, according to the founder of the on-line humor publication, The Onion.

"It's not hard because they're sensitive. It's hard because the real news has gotten so absurd."

Scott Dikkers spoke Thursday at Daemen College to mark the school's 70th anniversary, and its inaugural Founders Celebration. He told a crowd his publication gave up on trying to follow the news, instead getting ahead of a story by inventing it.

Given the news in the media, he said it is not always easy to invent stories. Asked about fake news in a publication that invents stories, Dikkers said the term "fake news" is an attack on reporting.

"When Trump attacks fake news, he's just attacking news that he doesn't agree with and it's probably true," Dikkers said. "But when they use that term fake news, they are talking about these devious people who are trying to fool people with news stories that seem real that, like, put forth an agenda, some sort of propaganda that they are trying to get out there. And that's not what The Onion does at all. We're doing satire. We're doing entertainment. And if you think it's real, then that's your fault."

Asked about the most ridiculous story he has heard, Dikkers pointed to advice on a morning show about how to handle disasters.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

"They were talking about, bring your favorite pillow so that you have something that comforts you," he said. "They had all these worthless tips. People are literally drowning outside their house and they are offering this pablum that creates this illusion that the city of Houston didn't just experience an apocalypse."

Dikkers said one problem area remains:

"Yeah, stupidity," he said. "I know, because a lot of times when you confront those people with facts, they dig their heels in even further and they can't be convinced. So that's a tough one."

That was his response to a question about the current web postings about how President Barack Obama played golf during Hurricane Katrina. The posters had no response when it was pointed out that George W. Bush was President when Katrina hit.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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