By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — As I attempt to age as gracefully as possible for an otherwise graceless person, I have increasingly become a creature of habit.
One of those habits to turn on the TV every morning – sometime after the weekday alarms screeches at 6:30 — to watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I don’t even really like the show, or the hosts and regulars (other than brilliant Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson), but I watch anyway.
Much to my disgust, Joe and the crew tend to belabor two issues ad nauseam: The Democratic race for the nomination and the ongoing ineptitude of your president (not mine).
The psychobabble seems like a colossal waste of breath, considering the primary season is in its infancy and your president (not mine) is never ever going to be impeached.
If I hear the words “Mayor Pete,” followed by a long and drawn out discussion by a panel of “experts” about his electability – all while they skirt the obvious issue, unfair or not – I may hurl the remote at Joe Scarborough’s smug mug.
Why, then, do they spend so much time cherry-picking a poll that shows Bernie Sanders up a point and Elizabeth Warren down two – all while doing a poor job of suppressing a clear pro-Joe Biden agenda – or giving too much attention to some late-night Twitter post that would make a middle school grammar teacher wince in pain?
Easy answer. It’s easy. It’s right there, with low hurdles to scale.
Better than anything else on, all things considered, but far from good enough.
The thing is, I’m a news junkie. It’s why I majored in journalism (along with not having to take many math or science classes).
I’m naturally curious, and some would say I’m really just a total gossip. I plead partially guilty, but with an explanation. I’m really just in search of information – even if I’ll do little to nothing with it, like a fisherman tossing his catch back into the water, once I reel it in.
Which brings us back to the facts, or lack thereof.
These days, the whole earth can shake itself out of existence while I’m sleeping. Excuse me if I like to know what happened overnight.
CNN? No better than MSNBC (especially at night). It tries to get both sides of the story so perfunctorily that neither side is satisfied. I know I don’t want to hear another discussion on climate change as if it is open for debate, especially as it ignites forest fires in Australia and California with the verve of a serial arsonist.
The few remaining friends I have on the right don’t want any human interest story, like the border camps, told with any bit of sensitivity.
And don’t even mention Fox News. I’m OK with trying to stomach a little bit of the opposing viewpoint before wanting to vomit, but independent fact checkers have issued reports on the network’s accuracy that make the ones I used to bring home look like those of a Rhodes Scholar.
The sad truth is that I can find out more about what it is really going on with the local news from 6-6:30, followed by the national news from 6:30-7, than all day on any supposedly superior all-news network.
Newspapers have morphed into digital entities, but a second mortgage is needed to get around the pay walls needed to get what you need.
That leaves fly-by-night sights that may or not follow the ye olde rules of actually putting people on the record, as opposed to being anonymous, and having at least two sources.
All the conjecture leaves us, in this advanced day and age, prone to be less informed than we’ve been in the industrial age.
The only option is television, and the flaws are obvious.
Yes, the wall-to-wall coverage of our recent near flirtation with igniting World War III was relatively well-done, but so much more has been going on – locally, nationally and internationally – that much of it falls through the cracks.
And it happens at our own peril.
The more the masses are numbed up with dumbed-down messaging, the easier it is to go on electing sociopaths with the hellish belief they are heaven sent.
While we were looking at polls that really don’t matter until a week or two before voters in Iowa leave the wheat fields and reading too much into unreadable tweets, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning for a frightening tomorrow.
Example: Did you know that, since late December, more than 500 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico. That’s the same Puerto Rico still waiting on $18 billion in aid from hurricane damage incurred two years ago?
Did you know that, just on New Year’s Day, there were 45 non-suicide gun violence deaths across America? Including suicides by gun, there were 177 deaths.
Speaking of suicides, did you know that there were 228 suicides by police officers in 2019 in what has become a silent epidemic?
Veterans? Try a suicide rate of 17 per day.
Did you know that Philadelphia had 356 homicides last year, just nine short of one per day? You can say you are safe here in the suburbs, but this is the city you border and crime knows no boundaries.
Did you know that hate crimes have increased dramatically since a certain someone who calls himself your president began campaigning in 2015 with divisive rhetoric?
I shouldn’t just dwell on the negative, as there are positive stories every day – from simple acts of human kindness to medical advances to big bad athletes going out of their way for a sick child — that get buried under the if-it-bleeds-it-leads approach that goes a notch underneath the analysis of paralysis of politics and of an orange nitwit that the lack of real journalism left us with.
This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 12, 2020