Is there a connection between misogyny and fascism?
A freelance journalist ponders this and other questions as he struggles to make sense of the murky alt-right world in Alberta where he is chasing down those responsible for two rapes and an assault, putting a brave young woman into a coma.
Does he share some of the responsibility for the assault because of refusing to help the victim when asked? Is he endangering his young intern by allowing her to accompany him on his investigation? Does his special worry about the safety of a young woman reveal his own sexism? Are the young men who gather on an incel website message board simply pathetic or potentially dangerous?
In Misogyny, the third book of the FAKE NEWS Mystery series, Waylon Choy must make another road trip to solve a crime for which he feels personally responsible. Everything about the trip to Calgary makes him guilty, leaving his children, spending time with his children rather than assisting a young woman who came to him for help, even his means of transportation, a restored 1965 AMC convertible, which as his daughter so forcefully, and correctly, points out, spews significant carbon into the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming.
Then, when he arrives in Canada’s oil industry capital Choy cannot find a collaborator other than the young journalism student who he mistakenly agreed to take on as an intern. Rather than being helpful she becomes one more thing to feel guilty about — he is risking her life as well as his own by chasing after people that the police, not journalists, should be investigating.
“Journalists risk their lives every day to uncover the truth,” said FAKE NEWS series author Gary Engler. “Often they are the only ones investigating corruption because in many places the police and other authorities are the ones being bribed.”
“Some countries are more dangerous than others, but pretty much everywhere in the world journalists have been seriously injured or killed to stop them from doing their job.”
Reporting about what governments, corporations, police, the military and other organizations or individuals are doing is critical to any sort of meaningful democracy, he said. But when powerful people, some of whom may even own media outlets, do not want certain matters exposed, the jobs, and even lives, of journalists are put at risk.
The incredible thing, said Engler, who worked as a journalist for two decades, is that reporters take those risks to uncover the truth despite knowing how difficult it is to “prove” what happened. Sometimes, he said, when you’re chasing the truth, answers come easily and are obvious, but other times certainty is elusive or even impossible and an informed guess about what happened is the most that is achievable. Often reporters are being used by corporations or governments or individuals to promote a particular message regardless of the truth. Every journalist has faced this uncertainty; but while it may get easier with experience to acknowledge the limitations of an investigation when perpetrators lie, manipulate and cover-up, a lack of success in conclusively proving what happened always feels like a personal failure.
“Of course some reporters simply give up and let themselves be manipulated because that’s the easiest route to take,” said Engler. “It often pays better and you’re more likely to be promoted.”
Cynicism is an inevitable result of a world with competing narratives, where one side insists truth is personal rather than based on objective facts. Ethical journalists will make enemies and if those pissed off are rich and powerful — the president of the United States for example — then it’s easier to close your eyes, go with the flow, taking the path of least resistance and greatest likelihood of getting ahead.
“It really is amazing that there are any ethical journalists, given the world we live in,” said Engler. “They should be celebrated, but too often they are harassed, attacked, jailed or killed.”