After yesterday’s kerfuffle over a prank phone call made to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by someone posing as businessman David Koch, I’m become very hesitant to accept the stated identity of anyone I can’t see. How can I possibly know that the people I’m talking to aren’t scheming, lying bloggers trying to embarrass me?
And don’t tell me bloggers who do this sort of thing are today’s equivalent of the pioneering broadcast journalists. Go to the CBS archives. Where are Edward R. Murrow’s prank calls? You won’t find them! And I can say that with certainty, not because I’ve been in the CBS archives, but because I’m a blogger and I can make stuff up.
In the Walker call, the prankster, a fellow identified as Ian Murphy (again, who really knows?), sounds just the way a scared guy would sound if he were trying to imitate the chummy, towel snapping way billionaire puppet masters are supposed to yuk it up with their boys in the back room. He is completely unconvincing when he attempts to encourage Walker with “Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?” There’s no fire in his voice when he exhorts the Wisconsin Governor with “Beautiful, beautiful. Gotta crush that union!”
There are plenty of movies where the villain is a fabulously wealthy lout who wants to control the world. Can’t we practice our maniacal cackle a little bit before trying it out for an audience?
The prank call achieved the remarkable feat of making me feel a tiny bit of sympathy for Wisconsin’s Governor. I’ll try not to get carried away, though it has changed my outlook in some key areas. That’s why I’ve taken to recording all my phone calls and producing a daily transcript, just in case someone tries to hoodwink me.
Here’s one from yesterday:
?: Reference Desk.
Me: I’m looking for a book about prank calls. How to make them, how to record them, that sort of thing.
?: A whole book about prank calls? Phone calls?
Me: Yeah. Some of the social ramifications of it. Legal too.
?: I’ll check the catalog. I don’t think anyone’s written a whole book about it. There might be some magazine articles and … how about a movie?
Me: They made a movie about prank calls?
?: When A Stranger Calls. 2006.
Me: That sounds like a joke answer to my question, and I was looking for real information.
?: There’s also a book by Walter Mosley called “The Wave”. It says here one of the plot points has to do with a character getting phone calls from someone claiming to be his dead father.
Me: I think you’re pulling my leg. Are you a real reference librarian or is this some kind of cheap put-on for your juvenile GOTCHA website?
?: You called ME.
Me: That’s exactly what a prank caller would say!
?: All I did was pick up the phone.
Me: You mean you prank answered!
We went around and around for a while, but I didn’t fall for any of her cheap gags. Some people are just too smart to be fooled!
How can you prove you are you?