Publisher’s Perspective

Fake News: The life and times of Billy and Andy Berger


Do you remember the column I wrote a few months ago about mistakes sometimes made in the newspaper business? Well consider this column faux pas, part deux.

This is the story of Billy and Andy, the newly found apparitions purportedly related to the Berger brothers.

Billy, it appears, closely resembles one Mr. Ricky Berger. This nefarious character named Billy manifested himself over a month ago when he appeared as the newest member of the William and Ruby Berger clan. The family was truly surprised at this bit of astonishing news, as no one had ever heard of a Brother Billy, except when it was remembered that the Carter family of the 1970s had a Brother Billy. This Billy Carter character was a beer-guzzling good ‘ol boy from Plaines, Georgia. Heck, they even named a beer after that boy.

But I digress. The manifestation of Billy Berger first appeared in an article about Judge William Berger, a story that touted the judge’s life and experience as a B-17 tail-gunner in World War II. In a photo that yours truly (yes, moi) snapped, in attempting to identify Ricky in the picture, the name Billy suddenly appeared. Everyone knows Ricky is not Billy, but if it appears in the paper it must be true, right?

Well after publication, the story of the new-found Berger brother spun out of control. Immediately, the Berger clan was besieged with phone calls. ‘’Who is this brother Billy?” “We didn’t know you had another brother—who is he?”

Even the brothers were stupefied. They began to ask questions of their father. “Dad, when you were over in England during the war is there something you forgot to tell us?” was the line of interrogation.

Alas, none of it was true. The name Billy was inserted on deadline, and proofreading was not at its best on this day. Thus, the birth of Billy Berger. Now sadly, with this column, it is my duty to inform everyone of Billy’s untimely demise. R.I.P. Billy. We hardly knew ye.

Not to be outdone, then came last week’s whopper. In a story about trying to raise funds to help send William and his son Bobby to Washington D.C. to see the World War II and Vietnam Memorials, another apparition appeared. This time the Bergers were stunned to learn that they had yet another brother, this time named Andy. To quote the Rolling Stones, they “were so surprised to learn of this honor that they all ran 40 red lights in his honor. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus.”

So now there were five Berger boys: Bobby, Ricky and Randy (real) and Billy and Andy (apparitions). Bobby, who Andy is supposed to take after, was taken aback and only had one question for his Dad:

“Dad, when you were over in England during the war is there something you forgot to tell us?”

Poor William and Ruby. Through no fault of their own, they suddenly found that this newspaper had added two more fake children to the family tree.

And it’s all our fault. Yes folks, Trump is right on this one: the story of Andy Berger being alive and well is just as much fake news as is the life and times of one Billy Berger.

Where Andy Berger came from “is your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine.” Poor typing, poor editing, and not paying enough attention to detail. That is how the two fake brothers were suddenly born. Now, just as suddenly, they are gone.

But somewhere in this universe, for some unexplained reason, this publisher knows that Andy and Billy will never die, nor will they be forgotten. Yes, I have a divine providence that is whispering to me that Andy and Billy will be reborn over and over throughout the ages of the Berger brothers.

And why am I so certain of this? Because every time this publisher sees one of the Berger boys I am absolutely, positively 100 percent certain that they will look at me, have a wry little smile on their face, and ask: “Who is our brother this week Terry?”

Oh, the humanity.