I have put myself on a “news diet.”
A “news diet” is where you severely limit your intake of news reports, news shows, news feeds, and general punditry.
As the election cycle shifts into top gear, we get bombarded by more and more input. Unfortunately, this input provides less and less content as the positions of the various sides divide and solidify, and rhetoric coefficients grind upward toward what will undoubtedly be an hysterical fever-pitch by November.
Case in point: For years, I was a faithful Sunday news show watcher, but that habit collapsed with the sudden death of our beloved Tim Russert. My interest was revived for a while, when Christiane Amanpour took over the helm at “This Week,” but when her stint ended, so did my renewed interest.
I still check in on the shows, now and again, and last Sunday I rose a bit early and sat down with my coffee to give “This Week” a look-see. What I saw, infuriated me. When boiled down to its essential components, the first 25 minutes looked like this:
George asks Question A.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B.
George asks Question A again.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B again.
George shrugs, and moves on to Question C.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B, yet again.
Switch to Faction-Y-Representative.
This is repeated on every Sunday news show, and it is without a doubt the most ludicrous excuse for news I have seen. These shows do not provide any news and they are not even providing useful content. They have become nothing more than a soap-box from which each faction can deliver their spin and rhetoric for 15-20 minutes, free of charge. It is then followed up with another 25 minutes of “analysis,” in which the pundits merely restate the rhetoric of their favored faction (Mary Matalin looked positively foolish, trying to dodge and twist questions to fit her prepared talking-points answers.)
But this is only the most egregious example. Already, this dilution and corruption of the news extends to every media outlet. Every story of a political nature is nothing more than a tit-for-tat exchange of platform language. Soon, any story that can be tied to policy will have its portion of spin, and eventually, even current events reportage will reach us colored by various political spectra.
So, my “news diet” is as follows:
- Sunday news shows and pundits: cold turkey stop (Sorry, Rachel; love ya, but it’s for my own good).
- National news outlets: only the first 10 minutes of the main broadcast, and only a couple nights a week.
- Local news outlets: check headlines and weather online, no opinion or op-ed pieces.
It’s the only way I’m going to stay sane until November.
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