It seems that there is little that we can trust now. Anyone who has not been living under a bridge for the past couple of years is familiar with the concept of fake news. This morning I read that Russia is interfering with GPS systems to confuse shipping. Julian Assange has been kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain and authorities are beginning to have the discussion about what should be done with him.
Assange claims that Wikileaks is a journalistic enterprise rather than a means of broadcasting information obtained by spying. Due to the claims, and the fact that Western nations don’t want to interfere with freedom of the press, or even the appearance of interference, the U.S. wants Assange extradited so that he can stand trial on charges of illegally entering a computer belonging to the U.S. military. Britain is being cautious because Sweden may have priority for charges of rape.
NPR’s podcast, “Hidden Brain”, has a recent discussion of “Fake News”. It seems that it’s a real thing; according to the program the British government shut down a newspaper in what is now the U.S. for publishing false news, and a crime in New York was reported by two newspapers with such wildly differing accounts that it was hard to realize that they were reporting the same murder.
Journalists have varying degrees of allegiance to truth. In London there are many newspapers, and one needs to know whether or not they can be relied on for accurate, or even truthful, news. In the U.S. we have those “yellow rags” that are adjacent to the checkout stand at the supermarket. The kind that report that a two headed child gave birth to an alien. Lately, there have been charges that one of these attempted to extort money from the head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.
Television media which at one time were the stations associated with one of the three networks, now are unaffiliated and, apparently, primarily dedicated to the production of income from their owners. These 24/7 “news” stations claim to be unbiased, but conservatives and liberals definitely think otherwise. There does seem to be a difference in the listening/watching habits of liberals and conservatives. Those who have their television tuned to Fox News would not watch CNN, let alone MSNBC. At times I have taken something for indigestion and watched Fox News. I don’t trust anything I hear on Faux News.
This discrepancy feeds the Fake News narrative. The problem is not that the news is not news, it is that there is a completely different interpretation of events; and then there is a separate problem related to what news the stations choose to report. Fox reports stories that support their biases, and I suppose the same is true for CNN and MSNBC. I don’t know because they are my biases, too.
So, what is different today? Why does it seem like everything is wrong? It may be the message coming from the White House; a message that anything that doesn’t support Trump’s conspiracy theories and biases is Fake News. ‘The sea ice is melting because liberal talk shows put out too much hot air.” Really? We thought it was due to too much fossil fuel being burnt and cow flatus. “No, it’s liberal loudmouths.” That conversation never happened ( to m y knowledge) but it is the type of non-conversation one might have with the orange man.
“Storms sweep across the South, killing 6 and injuring dozens”
This afternoon I had one eye on the storm tracker, since we are in Georgia and there have been storm and tornado watches today. The other eye had been watching sports. Tiger Woods won the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. This is his first Masters win since 2005, and his 15th Major overall. There is a great deal of excitement among Tiger fans and assertions that he is back. Maybe.
The other thing I was watching was a figure skating competition in which two Russians and a young woman from one of the “stans” were competing for silver, gold, and world champion medals. All of the performances were stellar, but the young lady Elizabet (really long last name) who got the silver medal was breath taking in her performance. She did a quad something that had everyone gasping for breath. She was so confident that she smiled after one really hard and really well-done maneuver. I’ve never been on ice skates, but I can imagine that just going around the rink without falling would be a major feat for the average person.
Sometimes it’s good to get away from politics and remind ourselves that people are still people doing incredible things. It’s hard with the steady splatter of news about Trump, his taxes, his desire to send asylum seekers to “sanctuary cities”, and the constant jabs between house Democrats and senate Republicans over everything.
With the run-up to the Democratic campaign I get daily messages from candidates wanting to get enough money pledged to be invited to the candidate’s debate. I have messages from Andrew Yang (I’m a member of the Yang Gang) Julian Castro, and others. I would like to see them all in a debate. Yang proposes a minimum basic income of perhaps $1,000.00/month/person. He has other radical ideas, and he might be ignored if he had less knowledge about economics. He is an attorney who has never practiced, and has a degree in economics. He was an entrepreneur who helped start-up businesses become successful until he realized that the start-ups were just pushing existing companies out of business and putting thousands of Americans out of work. I like his ideas. I’m not sure that his ideas will sell, that we can really afford them, and I’m not sure that the U.S. is ready for an Asian American president. However, we weren’t sure before Barack Obama that they were ready for an African American president.
Often, I try to find a common unifying theme in seemingly different stories, and it is hard to find one here except that things are often not what they seem. News may be false or misinterpreted. Political candidates may be very different than they portray themselves, and successful athletes of professional or Olympic or professional caliber may be socially stunted. Tiger Woods and the Russian figure skaters may have spent so much of their adolescence practicing and competing that they have no idea how to relate to others. I will say that Tiger looked on top of his game this weekend. I just hope he has gotten his private life sorted out.