As I peruse the news this morning I note that it does not take long after the Congressional baseball game for the headlines to return to the new normal of constant administration intrigue and unnamed sources mongering. I felt a bit of bile start to rise and then I thought to myself, “Nah, they are just doing what they are supposed to do.”
There job is to tell stories. Sure they are supposed to be reported, not made up, but stories involve conflict and if you want people to read your story you have to play up the conflict. In my adult lifetime the news media have discovered that argument sells. Whether its “Firing Line,” “McLaughlin,” “Point Counterpoint,” “Crossfire,” or now every panel on every show on cable news, the idea is to spark up a fight. (Notice that’s a bit of an historical progression and as you go through time the rhetoric heats up.) Let’s be honest, we like “Game of Thrones,” so if they want viewers/readers for their advertisers they are going to tell us what is going on in a Game of Thrones fashion. They are just doing their job.
My point is that the problem is, at a minimum, as much about us as it is about them. We drink up this conflict-laden nonsense like thirsty desert travelers at an oasis. What is it about us that desires conflict and intrigue? Why do we enjoy that which tears down rather than that which builds up? Like I said yesterday, we have a cultural problem, not a political problem and not really a press problem either
The solution is also very much the same one I offered yesterday. As the Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church in Phillipi he urges them:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Take that out of “biblese” and read it in everyday language – it says simply, “Stop filling yourself with ugly things are start filling yourself with good stuff.” In other words, turn off the cable news.
What if we consumed news like we consume movies? “Wonder Woman,” a movie about genuine heroism, goodness and overcoming adversity, is beating the pants off “The Mummy,” which everybody tells me is dark and dreary and about ugly things. If we chose our news like we choose our movies I am fairly certain what we see in the news would change pretty rapidly.
We can solve this problem, but by changing our habits, not demanding they change theirs.