Don Rogers: A case against cable; how we return to sanity
February 16, 2017
I guess I was tired and putting off a chore or report or some other piece of homework. So I turned on cable news, telling myself I might find some perspective there.
CNN to FOX, FOX to CNN. Back and forth, avoiding the commercials, of course. That evening, the panels and the guests and the broadcasters were all in with the 9th Circuit's rejection of the Trump travel ban.
But I found myself no better informed than from flipping through local and regional papers, scanning others' websites, scrolling my Apple aggregator and AP app, skimming e-newsletters.
No, I discovered what I always discover when I get lazy and make this mistake. It happened the night before the election, too, when I toggled between cable channels.
I got angry.
Well, it was more low-level irritation that rose and rose. An inflammation, a boil. Cable news gets under my skin, infecting my mood, offering little for my mind.
I must be more liberal than not, too. Here's proof: I found FOX incredibly stupid, far more so than even CNN in all its smugness. It wasn't their ideological leanings. I get that and like knowing. Helps with triangulating reports from the various sources.
Maybe it was the program or my bad timing. The FOX anchor was hectoring his guest with the notion that the rejection of the ban meant Iraqis who had been bombed could now sue the United States. Yeah, that's it! Now the world has the rights of American citizens and standing to sue us! What do you say to that!?!
CNN at least gave its conservative analysts and guests a chance to finish their sentences, and asked questions rooted somewhat closer to reality. Just write a new order, a lawyer suggested in one interview. Made sense to me.
I see CNN as liberals trying to understand these strange creatures, conservatives. Curiosities, really. Nod politely when they talk. At least pretend to take them seriously. Who knows, maybe they'll surprise.
FOX has a big chip on its shoulder: See how stupid those libtards are? Think they're so smart. … See? Here, I'll help you with a quick scoff or poorly disguised eye roll as some pointy-head prattles on.
Friends — the ones in real life — complain about the same kind of low-level irritation as they dive in for their daily overdoses of Facebook. Too much political junk, they invariably sigh. Friends and "friends" post crazy views we never imagined they held. Replies come as rebukes and insults, with fire fully returned.
It's all as pointless and angry as cable.
What to do? Stop using Facebook? Unfriend folks who have gone way out there?
For me, cable is easy to avoid. Actually TV altogether, other than the occasional ballgame.
Facebook, though. I do like to stray there occasionally. See what's going on with my family, high school classmates, friends back in Vail, professionally.
Somehow I've learned to skip over the political statements that friends complain about and find themselves unable to resist posting themselves.
I note these contributions without getting caught up in them. Oh, Jeff's a Trump fan, Mary's getting fired up like she hasn't before. Got it, good to know, I suppose, on some level. Moving on. Oh look, Sam's posted a video of a dozen golden retrievers paddling around in a swimming pool. Weird.
I have my own outlet through this column, so I can't get too high and mighty here. I share the same instinct to express myself. Facebook postings scratch the same itch. I get that.
Cable and social media generate more heat than light. I think this is what bothers me. I'm looking for light. Where to find light?
Conversation works pretty well. We're as prone to error and our more partisan friends still go all polemical too easily. Still, people are more polite in person, and we listen better.
I'm bookish by nature, so of course I'll put in a good word for reading. Yes, plenty of crap out there, but I find lots of gold, too. Gold as in insights to think about, other views to consider, a depth I don't find in sound bites or postings.
Reading makes me reflective instead of reactive, informed rather than inflamed, a slightly better human being, maybe.
Cable just pisses me off. I think it does the same to you.
So — hah! — turn off the TV and read the paper.
Or even better, books.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-4299.