If you’re like me (and I expect in this particular way, you are), you probably like to be well-informed — to be conversant with what’s going on in the world. Being well-informed enables us to conduct intelligent conversations with intelligent people, make better decisions, and also to prepare ourselves and our families for what might be coming at us.
“What might be coming at us” has taken on special urgency in the few last years — and months!
But how can we be well-informed when so many sources of information have either a) gone completely bonkers or b) chosen to manipulate the “news” solely for political ends or c) both?
Let’s face it. Reporting has always been biased, heavily mixed with ignorance and sloppiness, and representing somebody’s agenda other than our own. From Hearst starting his wars to “Father of Our Country” Walter Cronkite faithfully conveying only what a handful of power brokers decided we should know, and even to the relatively coherent Fox and CNN of a few years ago, there’s never been unbiased or even reliably accurate news.
But used to be you could create yourself a simulacrum of unbiased and accurate by checking multiple sources. Maybe start your day out with a bit of Fox, a bit of CNN, the New York Times, and then a few well-curated libertarian news aggregators. Or visit the RealClear suite of sites online which, by design, balance each “conservative” news or opinion link with a (formerly) liberal or “progressive” one.
RealClear is still one of the best bets if you’re looking for views on several sides of an issue. Problem is, the sides themselves have become increasingly meaningless, at least as far as their news value goes.
For instance, if you want to seek a counterbalance Fox’s “TOTAL CHAOS AT THE BORDER!!!! COVID-CARRYING UNACCOMPANIED BABIES!! MS-13 ON YOUR DOORSTEP!!” you go to CNN and instead of finding a different view of the border situation it’s more like “Border? What border? We’ve never heard of any border.” (Or at least so it’s been since the border became
Biden and President Harris’ problem, rather than Trump’s. Funny how, just a few months ago, according to CNN, the border was a hotbed of chaos, racism, and all manner of injustice. But apparently that’s all been solved now. 😉 )
Want to see what reasoned arguments “progressives” make in favor of the cancel culture that has the right, libertarians, and traditional liberals so alarmed? Good luck. Few outlets on the left report on the firings, speech suppressions, and ruined reputations at all (except occasionally to justify their own firings and suppressions). And the “progressives” themselves merely retort, “SHUT UP YOU CIS-GENDERED, TRANSPHOBIC, PRIVILEGED WHITE SUPREMACIST! THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS CANCEL CULTURE AND IF YOU QUESTION US WE’LL DOX YOU, RUIN YOUR REPUTATION, DRIVE YOU OFFLINE, AND HOUND YOU OUT OF YOUR JOB!”
Riots in the streets? There are none, absolutely none, according to the “left.” If we mention them at all, it’s because those are oppressed people peacefully and justifiably protesting. Except of course there was that one really, really horrible, deadly, racist, unpatriotic, Trump-inspired attempted coup and (did I say deadly) insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Which of course had no justification at all. Except … Nazis.
Riots in the streets? Every darned night our cities are on fire solely because of Democrat politicians and Marxist agitors, according to the “right.”
“Right-wing” news sources are generally sleazy, but do frequently report some sketchy version of what’s actually happening in the world. “Left-wing” news sources appear to be reporting from padded cells in Bedlam.
The big issues of the day? War, political corruption, the economy, the health and education of children, decaying cities … all those and more are either being ignored entirely by one side or another or covered in such absurdly twisted ways that it’s impossible to sort your way to something resembling an accurate viewpoint.
The world is filled with more political scandals than anyone can count. But look at a “right-wing” news site and you’ll get the impression that only politicians on the “left” are rotten. Look at a “left-wing” news site and you’ll see that “right-wing” politics is a swamp of child molesting, adultery, hypocrisy, and (gasp!) COVID restriction violations. But generally neither side will even mention its own side’s scandals, leaving us with little chance to find the facts.
(But I guess that’s actually okay, since both sides are so hopelessly bought, sold, depraved, arrogant, unconstitutional, and above the law that sensible people are best off just turning their backs on the whole putrescent lot of them.)
Increasingly the one thing smart, well-informed people agree on is that there’s no news in the news any more. It’s all, from all sides, fantasies, lies, egregious and deliberate distortions, accounts too sketchy to take any real meaning from, and bald-faced propaganda.
That’s not news, either. You already know that.
Believe nothing. Believe nobody. Trust “experts” and institutions least of all — the credo of an increasing number of smartfolk.
Back in the dark ages, the Soviet Union had two big newspapers: Pravda (“The Truth”) and Isvestia (“The News”). The much whispered joke went: “There’s no news in The Truth and no truth in The News.”
Welcome to the Dark Ages, friends.
Tomorrow or this weekend: “Part II, On the positive side …”
Meanwhile, please fill the comment section with your observations, pet media peeves, personal solutions, helpful suggestions, and collective wisdom.