On 30 June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to re-establish the National Space Council, which has been defunct since it was absorbed by the National Science and Technology Council in 1993. Standing by his side was astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 87, who was the second person to walk on the moon (after Neil Armstrong) as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Trump’s exchange with Aldrin quickly went viral:
“We know what this is, space. That’s all it has to say: space. There’s a lot of room out there, right?” Trump asked Aldrin as he prepared to sign the order.
Aldrin replied with a quote from the astronaut character Buzz Lightyear from the movie “Toy Story.”
“Infinity and beyond!” Aldrin said.
“This is infinity here,” Trump responded as Aldrin looked on, appearing increasingly confused by his comments. “It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something – but it could be infinity, right?”
The next day, a web site purporting to be the online arm of a publication called The Rochdale Herald published an article appearing to report that Aldrin said his biggest life achievement was restraining himself from punching President Trump:
Buzz Aldrin has suprised many today by saying that his greatest achievement is not punching Donald Trump. Mr Aldrin attended an event where the President gave a rambling word salad of a speech.
Mr Aldrin looked visibly pained as he explained to the Herald, “At first I thought it was a joke or alzheimers awareness thing. As he went on I realised it wasn’t Alec Baldwin but the actual President. How is that possible? I’ve met Nixon, Johnson and Obama and never experienced anything like that. Hell, even Bush used to be able to get words into the right order.”
Aldrin, who famously punched a moon landing conspiracy theorist went on to say, “How the hell do you inspire kids with that? Who can honestly say being President is something to aspire to?
The follow-up story is a work of fiction. The Rochdale Herald says on its page that it publishes satire “from the world’s worst local newspaper”, and the web site’s “About” page contains more information:
The Rochdale Herald is a satirical, spoof, parody commentary on current affairs, and stuff that annoys and amuses us. We make it up and it’s not intended, in any way whatsoever, to be considered factual.
If you read a story on The Rochdale Herald, please take a deep breath before going off the deep end as we probably made it up, apart from the horoscopes, they’re all completely legit (no they aren’t, we make those up too). We don’t spend much time checking facts or corroborating sources because, and we can’t stress this enough, we’re not actually journalists and are making most of it up. This is an entertainment site that may occasionally confuse some fact with fiction and vice-versa but ultimately we’re writing about the news to make you laugh. We also might talk about sex and swear a bit from time to time so if you’re under 18 please don’t read it.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental, seriously.
Although Aldrin never said that he had restrained himself from punching the President, the astronaut did display some curious facial expressions during the speech:
The story is not completely plucked from thin air. In 2002, Aldrin made headlines when he punched a conspiracy theorist who was following him on the street to claim that the moon landing had been faked all along: