Fakenewsis is a word I’ve coined to describe a condition in which you see fake news where there is none.
A case in point of Fakenewsis is what is being said by some about a picture I have seen online of Malawi’s President with his wife standing between two flags with US President Trump and his wife. Because I live in somewhat of a political bubble in which the president is unpopular, it is especially hard to remember that there are other parts of the country where attitudes towards the President are more positive. So here in my bubble, it has been alleged that the photo of Malawi’s President is a fake, that it is the fabricated work of photoshop created by his cronies to prop him up as a leader of note among world leaders. In short, that it is fake news.
In an effort to resist the part of me that is tempted to believe every bad thing that is reported about my President, I decided to take a closer look and though I am no photography expert, I concluded that the photo is authentic. Skeptics have pointed out that if it was authentic there would be a flag of Malawi on one side and a flag of the US on the other, but even a cursory search online will show that this protocol depends on the occasion, so it does not always happen thus. Other skeptics have pointed out that if this was indeed taken on the sidelines of the most recent United Nations General Assembly, then it would be found on the websites of the UN and the US Government, but this skepticism is based on the flawed assumption that those websites archive every photo at the UN.
So to guard against my own bias against President Arthur Peter Mutharika, I dug a little more and found that there is indeed no “there” there. It turns out that when there is a United Nations General Assembly, the US President and his wife host a reception for all the Heads of Delegation and their wives, which in most cases are the various Heads of State of the UN member states. Trump hosted the reception to welcome the visiting Presidents, since he himself is the host in whose country the Assembly is held. As per tradition, during the reception, he and his wife gave the guests an opportunity to take a photo with him and his wife Melania. Since it is not a bilateral event, as the guests come from many countries, the only flags used in the photo are the US national flag and US presidential flag. I am therefore satisfied that the photo is not fake and that the maligning of the President because of it is unjust and a case of fakenewsis. Staying on the side of truth is no easy task in political matters, especially since our sinful nature would rather have power than truth, but we must do our best.
Meanwhile, the real news is that Melania Trump (who is decidedly out-dressed by our own First Lady in this photo) arrives in Malawi today, the first sitting US First Lady to do so. The other real news, and good in nature I might add, is that during his US visit, President Peter Mutharika gave a moving speech at Washington University when he went to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the school where he had been a law professor for several decades. I had already given his earlier speech before the UN General Assembly a thumbs up, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see him top that. So I commend it to your reading. The lucidity and sharpness of the man’s intellect even at the twilight age of 79 is quite remarkable.