Mark Twain once observed, "A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on." I often wonder what observations Mr. Twain would make about us in this blindingly fast age of social media and the Internet.

Mark Twain. // Canva

Knock, Knock—Internet Calling.

My phone dinged with an alert.

I took a moment to focus on the headline. I had to read it twice. It was just too strange to believe.

Created with Canva
Created with Canva

Wait, what? Was it true?

A major news network was reporting that the governor of Arizona had stepped down.
Social media feeds were rife with speculation and commentary. Opinions from every side were being hurled back and forth. Even the casual reader could sense the tension this was causing.

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The implications of what it could mean for Arizona were coming in thick and they were coming in fast. I had the what, I thought. How about the why?

But wait. What I was having trouble finding was why Governor Hobbs had stepped down.

BREAKING: Katie Hobbs RESIGNS as Governor of Arizona

Katie Hobbs became the governor of Arizona in January of 2023. The contentious race sent ripples all over the state. The heated battle between Hobbs and her rival Kari Lake continued to simmer long after most gubernatorial elections had been wrapped up.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. // Christian Peterson / Getty Images
Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. Christian Peterson // Getty Images

Cries of voter fraud echoed far beyond the Arizona borders. People throughout the nation wondered just what, exactly, was going on in the Grand Canyon State.

Kari Lake // Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Kari Lake. Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

Kimberly Yee, Acting Governor of Arizona

As I dug deeper into this breaking news story, I found a lot of rumors and innuendo. Essentially, the internet version of "my sister's best friend's mom knows a guy who told me" kind of information. I was beginning to suspect the sources were just a little sketchy.

Kimberly Yee. Photo by Brandon Bell // Getty Images
Kimberly Yee. Photo by Brandon Bell // Getty Images

Then I struck gold. This was the kind of firsthand, trustworthy source I was looking for.

Straight from the Social Media Platform Formerly Known as Twitter (Now X) was this post from an Arizona Government Official we could trust: Kimberly Yee.

I have been notified that I will be serving as Acting Governor beginning later this evening until mid-morning tomorrow. Read my full statement below.
— Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee (@AZTreasurerYee) September 27, 2023

Um. This still didn't clear a lot of things up. Kimberly Yee is the Arizona State Treasurer. She's the fourth in line to the state governorship. Was she the governor or not? And why was she implying she had the power to appoint directors to 13 agencies?

What was going on?

Did the Internet Expose a Lie or Retcon the Truth?

Newsweek and other sources were trying to unravel this mystery. After a lot of spiraling down strange rabbit holes, I finally found a post that made sense. Kind of.

It seems Governor Hobbs had taken a planned trip to Washington DC, but nothing I could find seemed to definitively explain why.

Not that it's necessary. Politicians take trips all the time, both for official and for personal reasons. Do they usually step down in order to travel? If so, this was news to me, and apparently, everyone else attempting to figure this out. dove into the fact-checking, with the headline:

"FACT CHECK: Katie Hobbs took a day trip to DC, she didn't resign as Arizona governor"


The Truth Puts Its Boots On

So why did this speculative story get picked and flung around the 'verse so fast?

  • Was it the short news cycle?
  • The urge to be the first to report breaking news?
  • Wishful thinking?
  • Intentional skewing of facts?
  • Misunderstanding?

I still can't answer that question. Whatever the reason, I can only imagine a curmudgeonly Mark Twain shaking his head at us and wondering why we still believe everything we read.

The incomparable Samuel Clemens, still waiting on the truth. // Canva

A cynical Samuel Clemens twirling his cigar and observing that even in the Age of Information, we haven't changed. We're still waiting for the truth to put its boots on.

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