You might have seen a surprising revelation in the news in the last few days: William Shatner, the actor best known as Captain James T. Kirk from the Star Trek franchise, turned down an opportunity to fly on Virgin Galactic because… he’s afraid of flying? It generated headlines around the globe, primarily in tabloids and celebrity gossip publications. But, you shouldn’t be surprised, since the news, well, isn’t news.
This “news” apparently had its origins in a talk Sir Richard Branson gave last week, and picked up by the UK tabloid The Sun. However, since The Sun’s article is behind a paywall, most people saw references to it elsewhere, such as the Daily Mail and The Star. The gist of those reports: Shatner turned down an offer to be among the first Virgin Galactic passengers because he’s afraid of flying.
While those and other publications treated that as a new revelation, it’s something Shatner himself has been saying for years. “I don’t like to vomit,” Shatner said in 2007, referring to a zero-g airplane flight but also expressing his lack of interest in spaceflight. “I’m interested in man’s march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me,” he said back in 2006. His views clearly haven’t changed, but few, if any articles, reached any farther back than similar comments Shatner made in 2011.
Remember, just because it’s in the news doesn’t mean that it is news.