Cerabino: Sorting out fake news in porn star shark attacks, guv’s race


You’ve got to be careful about fake news.

It’s easy to manipulate photos and post things online that take on a life of their own.

So I’m glad The Palm Beach Post’s Kimberly Miller debunked that viral YouTube video that purportedly showed porn star Molly Cavalli being bitten by a shark in waters off Palm Beach County.

As Miller reported, it turns out that Cavalli and her video crew had been shopping around for a dive boat, expressly saying that they were looking to stage a fake shark attack to make a video. She even had the so-called “bite” on her ankle already photographed before she went out on the boat.

Note to self: This is the last time I’m going to believe everything a porn star moans.

The edited shark video, which showed Cavalli screaming and what appeared to be blood in the water, has received more than 14 million views.

But it’s a hoax. And a bad idea. Sharks pose less of a threat to people than dogs, and sharks have enough survival issues without being accused of terrorizing a porn star by biting her on her bony ankle.

Seriously, the ankle? Any shark looking to make a meal of Cavalli would have certainly been drawn to her far more meaty areas.

I was mulling over the fake shark-attack story when another image that seemed to be fake appeared on my Twitter feed.

It was about Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announcing his run for governor next year. That part isn’t fake. Putnam has been planning this run for a long time.

The part that I thought was obviously fake was a campaign image that showed Putnam’s name with the slogan “Florida First.”

Florida First? No, that must be somebody’s idea of a joke, a bad parody on the crowded-lifeboat mentality that has infected xenophobic nationalist campaigns in Western democracies, and now is being extended comically to state politics.

Somebody must be punking Putnam, I thought. Photoshopping a fake campaign image to make him look like a foolish lightweight.

But then I read what he said during his campaign kickoff speech.

“It has been an honor to serve my community, my friends, my neighbors, my state, and my country. But for me, it’s always been Florida first,” Putnam said. “We’ve got to put Florida first to make sure that it isn’t only the place where people come after a life well-lived somewhere else; it’s where they come to launch their own American dream.”

Oh, no! Florida First isn’t a hoax like the porn star shark attack. It’s real.

We actually have a front-running candidate for governor who imagines invisible people putting Florida second, or third, or … heavens help us, anywhere after Mississippi.

Finally, we may have a governor who will be interested in his own state! Above, say, Georgia, or maybe even, Delaware.

Where does this dumbed-down “putting (insert jurisdiction here) first” rallying cry end?

Do Palm Beach County commissioners need to persuade constituents that they’ll be putting the county first over Martin and Broward counties? Do aspiring Town Council members in Jupiter have to assure their constituents that, if elected, they won’t be tools for Tequesta or Juno Beach?

Who exactly is the bogeyman in the “Florida First” mentality? Is this an overture to withdraw from the so-called “United” States? Maybe it’s an attack on federalism, just like “America First” is an attack on globalism.

Do we keep going — like Russian nesting dolls — until our shrinking levels of selfishness cause each Floridian to righteously espouse their very own “Me First!” political philosophy?

I think the expiration date on this all-elbows mentality is at hand. And it’s certainly a poor fit for Florida.

Consider this:

Florida lawmakers just passed a piece of legislation that creates a discharge reservoir to hold 78 billion gallons of dirty water from Lake Okeechobee, so it won’t have to be pumped through coastal communities, causing toxic algae blooms.

The reservoir will cost Floridians $800 million, but that’s just about half the cost. The law anticipates that the federal government will foot the bill for the other half.

So if you’re keeping score at home, Putnam’s farming friends and other Floridians expect that taxpayers in the other 49 states will be chipping in to help solve the waterway pollution problems we’ve inflicted on ourselves.

I surely hope all those other states don’t have a (Insert State Name Here) First policy when it comes to cleaning up our mess. Same thing goes the next time we have a bad hurricane, a Zika outbreak, or an oil rig explosion in the Gulf.

It’s nice living in the United States when bad things happen.

And they often do in Florida — but not to ocean-swimming porn stars, who have nothing to fear from our coastal sharks.



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