Politics and religion are the two things I avoid in my writing. Oh yes, my regular readers can guess my leanings. But I don’t discuss them outright in my books. My readers come from all walks – right and left, north, south, and central. They expect a good story, not a diatribe. And I respect their right to that.
Yet here I sit, struggling to come up with something meaningful to blog about, while the most important topic right now is political. And what I’m thinking is that my blog is different from my books. You’re not paying to read my blog, like you do to read my books. You can opt out at no cost whatsoever by simply closing the link.
So here’s your chance. Don’t want political? Close this link now.
Still with me? I’m so glad! Here goes.
Given last November’s election, the time for sitting silently on the sidelines has to be over. Without the voice of people like me who aren’t political activists but do represent the views of many, America is at risk of losing much of what makes us great. So, from time to time, I will be writing about things that matter to me as a generous taxpayer, a social liberal, and a patriotic American.
Take FAKE NEWS.
I despise this term. It grows from a need to discredit the media, which too often prints things that our current president doesn’t like. Combine the repeated use of this term with the recent banning of some press outlets from presidential briefings, and you have the kind of repression we see in dictatorships.
But what is FAKE about the NEWS we get? Generally, at least in mainstream outlets, the news consists of reports that are fact-based.
That said, the term FAKE NEWS makes me think. I grew up in an era where the evening news was 30 minutes, start to finish. There were ten minutes for local news, ten minutes for national news, and ten minutes split between weather and sports. Then that expanded. I’m not quite sure why, likely advertising money. But now, we have 24/7 news stations and news programs that run 3 hours at breakfast time, 1-2 hours at lunch time, and 3 hours at dinner time.
But, hell, how much news is there to report?
So we get lesser news, like the drunk driver who veers onto the sidewalk, terrifying people but causing no harm. We get human interest stories. And we get opinion pieces.
Opinion pieces are problematic. By definition, being someone’s opinion, they have a slant. An opinion piece on Fox News is going to be different from one on MSNBC. But we all know that. Doesn’t our president? Isn’t what makes America great the fact of diversity of opinion?
That said, I hate opinion pieces in this polarized political climate. I don’t care which side writes them, they’ve grown too ugly. In an effort to avoid them, I’ve stopped watching news shows and rely, instead, on breaking-news updates that appear on my phone through the day. They tell me what’s happening, without giving an opinion on it.
I don’t need someone else’s opinion. I have plenty of my own, thank you.
And yes, there are times when the press makes a mistake, but apologies and corrections usually follow. This is what responsible entities do.
I’m sure there is FAKE NEWS out there – as in, the reporting of incendiary conspiracy theories that lack facts or the deliberate reporting of a story known to be false. But is that done by credible media outlets? Certainly less often than our president would have us believe.
What we do get is different kinds of news offered with honest intent. There’s news NEWS, as in reports of what happened that day. There’s interpretive NEWS, as in discussions back and forth about the meaning of news NEWS. Some of what we get is even news that is rushed out in an attempt at an exclusive, breaking report, and naturally mistakes occasionally happen. But there is no ill intent in these.
There is ill intent in using the term FAKE NEWS. That’s what bothers me.