(Photo Credit: Statue of Liberty June 2014)
I’ve pretty much given up watching the “news” on the cable networks. I have struggled with what I consider to be an unhealthy addiction to these newsertainment shows for many years. I would start by surfing between Chris Matthews, Greta Van Susteren, and Erin Burnett, then move on to Chris Hayes, Bill O’Reilly, and Anderson Cooper. Later I’d jump between Rachel Maddow and Megan Kelly and if I was still up for a little more torture, I’d catch a little Sean Hannity.
I knew it was bad for me, but I couldn’t stop.
A few months ago though, I noticed I was only watching three stories over and over again: the Malaysian Jet channel, the Benghazi channel, and the Chris Christie channel.
Long before it got to this point I should have realized this activity was just raising my blood pressure and making me dumber. Not to mention sucking up a bunch of time that could more productively be spent playing the piano. Heck even cleaning the toilets would be more productive.
I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. So I finally decided to limit my news intake to print only. I figured reading actual articles would be a big step up. And it is. But I read these papers on-line and I sometimes can’t help myself from reading the comments after the articles. Again I’m back to newsertainment--long on opinion and short on facts.
I may have to move to the kind of print journalism that turns my fingers black. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll succumb to reading Peggy Noonan’s weekly, The Bad News and Why It’s All Obama’s Fault column. One step forward, two steps back.
By switching off the TV, I’m not avoiding news--I’m just avoiding being told what I’m supposed to think about the news. I know what’s going on in Israel and in the Ukraine. I know about the Hobby Lobby decision and that John Boehner intends to sue the president for delaying the employer mandate of the ACA. I know that the unemployment rate is down to 6.1% and that GDP shrunk by 2.9 percent in the first quarter. I know what’s going on along our border with Mexico and that Sarah Palin is calling to impeach the president over it. It’s not hard to keep up without CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
But even in non-opinion print journalism, it still seems like we’re not allowed to be happy yet. All good news is tempered with a statement about why you shouldn’t be happy about the good news.
The stock market is at record levels (but whatch out for disappointing profits). Unemployment is at the lowest level it’s been since the collapse of Lehman Brothers (but they are the wrong kind of jobs). Corporate profits are higher than they’ve been in 85 years (but that isn’t helping wages). Americans’ wealth has hit a record high (but it won’t help the economy). The real estate market is growing again (but watch out when rates rise), and retirement accounts are at all-time highs (but we’re still headed for a retirement crisis).
I would just like to get my news without being told how I’m expected to feel about it. I don’t have to be happy about everything, but can I please be happy about some things? If we have to wait for everything to be perfect to be happy, we’ll be waiting a very long time. Am I going to have to resort to getting my news exclusively through the comedy channel?
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