Wading into the political
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.
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I so agree, I’m afraid (and I mean afraid) that the term Fake News and the constant use of it is to under mind this countries faith, understanding and believe in our information that we receive in a number of ways and we call news. I believe it’s used to cover up for non information and the false facts coming out.
I have always loved your books and thought I would probably like you in real life. This confirms it. I completely agree.
I agree with you. I am from the other side of the border….Canada and I rely on our public broadcaster for my news. Basically, I need to know what is happening in my world as well as the rest of the world. I like opinion pieces because they make me think of another side of the story so to speak. And in the words of my mother, “There are two sides to every story.” What I don’t like is when the news starts with a celebrity story. Irritates me because I want the nitty gritty pieces like starvation and drought and what is being done and earthquakes and wars and sorrow. Then when I have had enough tell me how someone did something good in this world, to give me hope.
Actually, there are numerous fake news reports. The President does not initiate the calling out of the media outlets for making up scenarios to make him look bad.
These “news” outlets are intent on inflaming the public in opposition to the President. It isn’t just another view they’re presenting. It’s actual lies. You research information for your books so, I assume you know how to find the truth. You should research this topic to be better informed. There is a list of fake news outlets circulating on Facebook and there are posts showing the difference between a legitimate source of a story and the fake news report. We are all entitled to our own opinions of the President, however, he has been unfairly accused of causing issues that he is far too busy to bother with. He’s actually following through on his campaign promises. If you watched his address to Congress this week, you know that he is not some crazy, scary monster who’s going to ruin life as we know it. No president has been perfect. Look at JFK, Nixon, Clinton, to name but a few who have disgraced the office by their indiscretions or criminal activity. And HRC is still being investigated for her own crimes. And let’s not forget George Soros whose sole lot in life seems to be to use his trillions to sway political favour.
In my estimation and, in the estimation of at least half the American citizens, Trump has the skills this country needs right now. Our country is not in a sad state of affairs right now because of him but because of past presidents’ inability to lead in an effective way and their ultimate greed. It’s unfortunate that some of the people have assumed President Trump will fail and that he’ll ruin our country without any basis for that belief. He hasn’t been in office for 100 days yet and people are already terrified of the assumed ruination of our very lives. It’s because the fake news media has enflamed stories and outright lied to make headlines. They’re likely laughing at those who take their stories as fact. Research this and you may change your opinion. And every new president deserves a fair chance to see what he can do. I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but I feel a liberal President is not what we need right now.
I have to agree with Marcia, and see that it totally depends on who you are backing whether you can see the fake news or not. I have listened to enough of it, and it is not so much what is said, but how it is presented. Such as the meeting was a success, BUT the chairman was not paying attention and was picking his nose when he was not, but there goes the good feelings about the chairman.
I love you books and probably have everyone of them as I am a bookaholic and have to have them in my hands to enjoy them. Keep writing, and also try to look both ways. I have.
I agree with you. I’m not a political person, but this has captivated me. I have seen how some of the news outlets twist the story to make a positive look otherwise. Many years ago, I wrote copy for Wanamaker’s budget store, for three separate newspapers, every day. There wasn’t a breath of twisting information of items. It was illegal. So how some of these reporters can deliberately twist truth is beyond me. So instead, I started listening to the words of the President. And his actions. He is keeping his promises every day, and working for all of us. Can’t say that for the other side of the aisle.
Marcia — more than half the voters did NOT vote for the current inhabitant of the WH. He does, in fact, call out news stories as FAKE that are truthful, but make him look bad. I do the research, I check multiple sources, I don’t rely on left or right news outlets. Wake up, woman! Do your research!
There have been so many lies told about President Trump that it’s almost laughable…if it weren’t so disrespectful, rude and false. I find democrats at this time, plain hateful. Ashamed to call you Americans, patriot you are not!!
I have enjoyed your books since I discovered them years ago. Now I find that we are on the same page in terms of politics and “Fake News”. Your thoughtful blog has the finesse that I lack when talking with my husband about our current president’s latest or continuing sayings/doings. I get livid and he shuts down. I will try to emulate your tone when our discussions inevitably turn to current events . Thank you for your thoughtful approach to our difficult political atmosphere.
Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth. I identified with your comment. Why do you think I’ve turned to blogging about this? “I get livid and he shuts down.” That’s exactly what happens here, too. So I’m going to try to emulate you emulating me.
Wholeheartedly agree with you, Barbara, from north of the border. It is obvious that not everyone is interpreting your blog the same way..
Thanks for your support, Anneke. Truth is in the eye of the beholder, I fear.
Goodbye Barbara, I am obviously not among “my tribe” on your site! You should have stuck with Not talking politics as you are losing fans!
Thank you Barbara for stepping up in this politically charged atmosphere and taking a stand. I am sure that you have researched all avenues to bring you to your conclusions. A free press, not one demeaned and disparaged by the occupant of the White House, provides information substantiated by facts. To expect that all information would be flattering or totally supportive of an administration’s agenda is both unobtainable and undesirable. An honest discourse is what is needed and the American people should expect. To have the White House and/or the public to expect otherwise is unamerican.
Mistakes may occasionally be made by regular media, but are usually retracted as quickly as more accurate information is available. This is not the case with the others as far as I can tell. I agree that name calling is often prompted by an attempt to discredit opposing parties or in Washington, D.C., by inherently dishonest politicians or their aids. Sensational views or stories grab the most attention, so it is hardly surprising they get coverage since media is sponsored by advertisers and investors. Our job as citizens is to fact check them all and inform ourselves on issues as best we can. Past records of all parties must be included. I am satisfied that I know the motivation of most. So far, I am not impressed by the progress and agenda of the current administration. It seems of little benefit to my part of America.
I completely agree with you, Barbara. A free press is one of the key ingredients of democracy. All past and current dictators have attacked the press as a first step towards total power, so it is frightening to see the current President heading in that direction. People need to take a stand, become informed and guard against losing a free press. Thanks for speaking out about this.
I agree 100% with you, Liz – and I think I am agreeing with Barbara too – the direction things are heading now are really, really scary – and yes, we definitely need a free press.
I agree. I think it’s important for every citizen to listen to the facts and form their own opinion. The problem lies in who interprets what and people thinking someone’s interpretation is fact, when it is only opinion. I have never been interested in politics and have not kept myself well informed, but that has changed since Mr. Trump was elected. I am trying to be better informed, which means listening to him and his press briefings and also watching reputable news sources and forming my own opinion about what I hear and read! Thanks for your blog post, I think you made a lot of sense, and if you lose fans over it, so be it. At least you are being honest in your thoughts and feelings.
I have read and loved your books for more than 30 years. I didn’t think I could think more highly of you. But I do. I am so thankful for this thoughtful blog regarding ‘Fake News’. We are living in challenging times.
I love reading your books. I find your blog very interesting. I Hate News. Period. I grew up listening to death tolls of the Vietnam war for supper every night. I thot our country was going to Hell in Handbasket then but we survived all that. It seems like our country is going backwards in so many areas. But we are still here! We will survive this President as we did the last 44 of them. I’ll just sit back and see what happens. This doesn’t mean I’m sitting on the fence, it means in the big scheme of things, I’ll vote my conscience and keep on living my life.
Thank you, Barbara, for this thoughtful insight. I know I will enjoy following your blog from here on in.
I totally agree with you. I would go further and say that it is immoral for the President or his White House staff to deliberately speak untruths. THAT is fake news. As I grew up, like you, there were three main networks, all carrying their own coverage of the same verified stories. We were all given the same information to digest. Now, we are hit from all angles, some who have little regard for truth telling or sticking to facts. Sadly, those things are often repeated as fact with no basis. We must all remain diligent in only repeating what known sources tell us is truth and we must demand truth from our leaders.
A free press is vital to our country. There are fake news sites. I saw many Facebook posts of fake news about Hillary Clinton. Now there are fake news about him. I am not seeing as many posts though. I am seeing more satire pieces which sound so real and what we would expect a person to say or do that sometimes we get caught. The main media may slant their coverage but that doesn’t make it fake. I find it very hypocritical for him to say the press is the enemy of the people when it’s the press who help us find the truth, such as there was no Bowling Green massacre and no terrorist attack in Sweden. Instead of being rightfully embarrassed by the gaffes, our current President attacked the media. Nothing fake about that.
I have seen and heard him say and do things and then say it didn’t happen.
I gave him a chance. His actions have led me further into resistance. No President is perfect. This one, so far, isn’t even close.
I agree that the Fake News should be avoided. I get breaking news updates all day also, from different types of sources–the AP, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Dan Rather’s News and Guts Facebook page, and some others. Some are middle-of-the road, some liberal, some conservative. I would prefer to be presented the FACTS and make my own determination. The banning of certain media from White House press events is basically a deflection, so we don’t really see what is actually going on ‘behind the curtain’. Steve Bannon holds the puppeteer’s strings in this administration. I am an Independent and not registered with any political party, and even I can see that.
Barbara, this is a well thought out blog post with intelligent views on what is happening right now. It is certainly a scary time for a lot of us. I applaud your honesty and insights!
It is a nightmare out there and I am with you; I don’t listen any longer and take the brief nws reports on my ipad/iphone to keep abreast of the mess and, I sorry to say, for a laugh once in a while (It is really not funny.) I am encouraged to see an increase in indivudul involvement in the concerns of our country.
I agree with you. As a history buff I can state that every president and his people have disliked news that has been reported about them or their administrations. Several presidents have tried to silence the reporting of their picadillios. None were totally successful. Silencing news by labeling them as “fake” could eventually become a plague where no one believes anyone. Anarchy ensues.
Thank you, Barbara, for such a candid and unbiased view of current events. I agree with you completely. By the way, I love your books. I just finished Sweet Salt Air last night. It blew me away. I wanted Charlotte and Leo to get together, but I didn’t want the story to end. My next one to read is Blueprints. Can’t wait to get started on it. Thanks for such wonderful books.
I completely agree with you,Barbara.I cannot even stand to see Trump on the news so I fall asleep to the Golden Girls!I think it is a real travesty that he was even elected.Was so happy with the March the next day!Reminds me of marching against Vietnam.Peace,Karen P.S.I absolutely love your books!
No matter what, I will always love you the author and can’t wait for your next book! Now I see I would totally like you as a person as well! Very glad I read this and completely agree with you 100%. One of the replies was that news outlets are intent on inflaming public opposition to the POTUS which is so incorrect! He does that all on his own!!
Well, I came looking for any information on a new story and look what I found. My fault I fear, for not subscribing to your blog. Thank you for confirming my long held opinion that you were a woman of common sense! How you could be otherwise with the stories you write I’m not sure, but I suppose it was a possibility. Of course there will be the few naysayers, oh well, that’s what makes a debate. I was one of those naïve people who kept thinking, oh there is no way they will nominate him…then, there is no way he will be elected only to discover that it was more of a horse race than I thought. Anyone who believes everything they read online (so many “news” sources now, not just TV or newspapers, needs to put SNOPES.com and Factcheck.org in their favorites. I would not have made it through the past two years without them!~ I am an independent, have voted for people of both major parties in every single category. Sorry, I don’t vote for the fringe parties because there is no realistic path to election for them and I feel it would be a waste of my vote. I agree with both parties about some things and disagree on others as I’m sure most people do. That said, I didn’t like or watch Trumps tv show, so it wasn’t hard to form an opinion of him as a potential president of our country. I’m sorry for people that actually think he’s going to help. Seriously, no need for news on tv, online, or newpapers or anything else. Just listened to what he said with no editing out of his own mouth.
Here is what the 1st Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We are so lucky in this country to be able to have a free press.If anyone thinks otherwise, they need to open their minds some more. Nobody should have to toe the line, sign a loyalty pledge or shut up in the pursuit of truth. We should delight in an adversarial press! Take the blinders off!
Thank you, Eileen. The 1st Amendment is real. IT is what makes America great.
The main thing that bothers me about the news is trying to be first to report something for the sake of being first. That causes mistakes because they don’t take time to check the “facts”. To me it would be better to be second and correct than first and have to correct or retract. Being correct would give me more faith in your next report. Maybe that’s just me.