The Power of Fake News

There is so much to talk about in Volpi’s novel that now I won’t quit discussing it for a while.

One fascinating aspect is that this entire 500-page novel was written to erase the effects of a single video that was aired on Mexican TV back in 2005. The police staged a rescue of kidnapping victims and an arrest of kidnappers. “Staged” means it was all completely fake. It never happened. The police wanted to set up these completely innocent bystanders for kidnapping and the best way to do that in the absence of any evidence was to create a powerful image for the public to believe. Both the victims and the accused were raped and tortured by the police to ensure they performed well in the video.

Thirteen years later, all of the falsely accused innocent bystanders but one are still in jail, and the public opinion is still mostly not on their side. Nothing that has been said or proven since then has been stronger than that one poorly made video.

People hate to have to change their minds, especially about something they have seen. Whoever tells the story first, especially if it’s accompanied with a strong image, owns the situation.

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