Meanwhile, While Rome Burns…

Meanwhile, While Rome Burns…

Good ol’ boys down at the bar
Peanuts and politics
They think they know it all
They don’t know much of nothing
Even if one of them was to read the newspaper
That ain’t what’s going on
Journalism’s dead and gone

The Eagles, Frail Grasp of the Big Picture


Last night, I went over to some friends’ house to watch the news. We chatted and watched the (mainly) Generals on CNN break down the crisis with North Korea. They did a pretty good job, though they could have traded a heck of a lot of repetition of talking points for more depth. They represented the longstanding accepted wisdom of American foreign policy though, and its associated assumptions (more on this in another piece).


Sure, it would have been useful and appropriate to have something other than various shades of the same hegemonic self-identity represented, given that we are in a situation in which millions of people could die. But clearly my expectations are out of sync with much of this country.


I also could have done without Anderson Cooper’s snarky repetition of the point that Trump tends to have a verbal tick about something being “the biggest the world has ever seen”. If Trump cannot control such verbal ticks when millions of lives are on the line, he is utterly unqualified for the office he holds. End of story.


Aside from that, it seemed like as decent coverage as you can expect from any of the “journalistic offerings” on cable news. Nevertheless, it is always good to see how the story is being covered by other sources. So one of my friends said, “Hey. Do you mind if we switch over to Fox and see what they are saying?”


I said, “Yeah. Definitely!”


He flipped over and my other friend said, “Oh my God! You have got to be kidding me!”


I looked up and yep, Fox News had decided that in the midst of an active nuclear crisis, it should spend its time providing viewers with more conspiracy theory development about Bill Clinton’s meeting with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac. We watched for a few minutes as the hosts engaged in their standard approach to “news” that is reminiscent of listening to a petulant teenager whose confidence in what he is saying far exceeds the level of cognitive development and informedness that has led to it.


Disgusted, my friend said, “Okay. How about MSNBC?”


I said, “Yeah, okay. But I swear! If we switch over and they are talking about Trump, Russia, and the election, I am going to puke!”


He switched over and my head just dropped into my hands. There is Rachel Maddow in her most self congratulatory tone, condescendingly explaining to the viewers how THIS piece of the puzzle is REALLY a BIG DEAL! THIS piece of the puzzle is a REALLY BIG STORY, by ME! Honestly, I do not even remember what THIS piece of the puzzle was. It was not a big one, and certainly not as significant as the crisis that the U.S. and the entirety of Northeast Asia are in the midst of.


We are in a dangerous place, friends. That is true in immanent terms, given the nature of the crisis that is unfolding. And that is true in general terms as well, as illustrated by the prioritization by Fox News and MSNBC of sticking it to their domestic opposition instead of covering said immanent danger. Democracy cannot function effectively in this environment. Nor can international stability be maintained.


I shudder to think where all of this is headed.

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