Monday, November 28, 2016
Extra, Extra, read all about it.
I read the newspaper the other day.
I know that's hardly the most searing lead in I've ever written but it is depressingly newsworthy.
There was a time that every morning started with a cup of black Joe, a bowl of cereal and a thick meaty LA Times to eat up an hour's worth of my day.
Now, however, I find myself getting my news from the worst possible source, the same place populated by a million videos of skateboarders smashing their crotch on a handrail, the same place where I can watch two women doing unimaginable things with a cup, the same place where you come to hear some glib 44 year old copywriter rage at the world.
This is not good, people.
David Frum, a man I rarely agree with, said the biggest catastrophe of the latest election is not who will be crowned on January 20, 2017, but what we have buried 6 feet under -- the Facts. And with it the source of those facts, more specifically, the media.
And even more more specifically, the print press, newspapers.
I grew up in a newspaper-devouring household. My father would often come home from the train with three papers in his hand -- the NY Times, The Post and The Daily News. Plus, I delivered the local paper, the Rockland Journal news. If an errant cigarette tipped over, there was enough newsprint in my house to set Suffern, Spring Valley and some adjoining areas of Upper Saddle River ablaze.
I even remember in high school, they showed us How to Read a newspaper, including all the intricate folding moves one needed to manhandle the Old Grey Lady.
The point is, we were saturated in news and journalism and facts. Mostly facts. I'm sure there were biases back then but the astute reader learned to weigh the agenda of each source and find a healthy and confident position somewhere on that spectrum.
That's gone now.
Today, and sadly I'm as guilty as anyone, we get our news, our facts, our misunderstanding of the world around us, from Buzzfeed, the Blaze, the Beast, Gawker, that guy on Facebook and that crazy cousin in Flagstaff who is convinced the End Days are coming and it's time to stock up on kerosene and chicken broth.
Or worse, we eat up the "news" dished out by the TV networks, the same TV networks who live and breath on ratings and consequent advertising revenue. The same networks who looked at the wall separating the news division, the entertainment division and the how-do-we-flush-our-country-in-the-toilet division and said, "I know, let's go with open office plan."
To Frum's point, if we can't find a source of reliable, objective media to give us some semblance of the facts, what hope do we have of ever finding our footing? We have become supremely susceptible to propaganda and deception and flim-flammerty, from all sides.
To this day Alex Jones and his legion of false flagging fuckheads (Michael Flynn, our new NSA Director among them) believe the tragedy of Sandy Hook was a conspiracy arranged by the government to push the gun grabbing agenda. He continues to spew this ugly nonsense even after watching 20 young schoolchildren being lowered into the ground.
If this is what passes for news these days, I'm afraid they should start digging one more hole for our diseased, ill-informed culture.
Addendum: I am signing up for the daily delivery of the NY Times and Wall Street Journal at my doorstep.