The mariner is wearing thin. We have at hand one of the most interesting campaigns for President in the last three quarters of a century. At stake are deep running cultural conflicts that have been emerging since Papa Bush; the presence of an oligarchy under siege; Federal and State governments are as dysfunctional as four flat tires; the definition of work is at a troublesome crossroad; international corporations are free from nationalist control; shifting economic power and a change in economics itself opens a different future for international monetary policy; the reasons to move forward with a Supreme Court appointee are deep and philosophical; the very planet is under siege. Sigh.
As usual, mariner will succumb to the Prophet Amos to speak about the news media. At the moment, all mariner’s alter egos are speechless and dumbfounded by the generic incompetence of the press. Only disjointed utterances like: ignorant plebeian, ass, stupid brainless muppet, moron, brain dead piece of shit, useless egotistic lump, and…well, you get the drift. Even PBS is insipid. However, Amos will step forth with smoother homiletic form.
Mariner reviews numerous websites and TV channels to glean meaning from the news. Note he said “glean meaning” – the content itself is too often little more than dross. From television, he gives most of his viewing of news to the four broadcast companies (ABC,CBS,NBC,PBS), CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg News and Aljazeera; some time is given as appropriate to FOX, Free Speech (FSTV), CSPAN, PBS specials and the weather channel.
There are four areas of complaint: detracting personality, lack of insight, irrelevant fill – as Jon Stewart used to say, “oxygen,” and the fourth is misinformed, to be gracious.
Personality. Amos mentions three types of “news anchors” to set the pattern. Only names are necessary to the knowledgeable viewer: Chris Matthews, who never hears the end of a guest’s sentence because he starts talking at the same time – meaning that viewers can’t understand what’s said by either of them; Chuck Todd and Erin Burnett, who are more interested in trapping and hog-tying their guests than raising the bar on quality insight (mariner actually enjoys guests who don’t yield and put the anchor in a dead spot); and Wolf Blitzer – unless he already has been replaced by a robot. Ending on a high note, many correspondents, especially on MSNBC, are coherent and understand the nuance of what they are reporting.
Lack of Insight. The mariner recently wrote a post, Poor Mitch, that took notice of the need to keep the Supreme Court as far from populism and special interests as possible. The best any news outlet can do is incessantly ploughing the same shallow arguments given by Mitch McConnell that the public must have a say in the next Supreme Court appointee. His position is in direct conflict with the spirit of the Constitutional process. The tendency is universal to report on human behavior and intentionally ignore reasoning and broader circumstances which may explain or contradict the human behavior. The mariner has begun to switch channels during coverage of ‘advice and consent’ after borrowing a few expletives from the list.
Irrelevant Fill. Amos is hard pressed to select just a few. Virtually all newscasters are nominalist, that is, events are simply things in motion; thematic content and paradigm causation are not ‘happening’ things. Evidence is in the following quote from a CNN correspondent on the scene in Boston feigning urgency while waiting for news on the Boston Bomber: “We see a dog, it is barking. It could be a K9 unit. We don’t know. It is a dog.” – Naturally, this is more important than taking broadcasting time to investigate in-depth analysis of the entire situation, or even cutting off the on-site broadcast to report on other serious news that has been pushed aside to report on the dog.
The truth is, staying on the scene identifying dogs and counting anonymous cars driving by was suffered in case real news, AKA an opportunity to retain viewer share, occurred. CNN is famous for having the best ratings during a pumped up news event that is milked nonstop for days. Between the pumped up events, CNN becomes noticeably vapid and preoccupied with broadcast format rather than content. Between events, viewership drops accordingly. This may be the curse of filling a 24-hour news cycle.
Misinformed. Again, a few names are all that is required to understand the fourth complaint: Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh…. On the liberal side, most of the guests on progressive outlets err when trying to link unfocused ideas to current reality, for example, Mika Brzezinski, Bob Beckel and guests like Thomas G. West and Ricardo Lagos. To be honest, the thoughtful viewer/reader should approach FOX and conservative radio as if they were a Broadway play. Enjoy its idiosyncrasies, marvel at the script, enjoy its characters – just remember it is not reality.
All this taken in hand, it is a long time to the November election and the inauguration. Mariner suggests taking a break every ten days; avoid news outlets; pursue vacations and other distractions; focus on personal relationships and personal health. Then return to the fray and the stupid brainless muppets. You have a moral obligation to be an educated citizen.
The reference section is offered as a routine to follow, previous complaints withstanding.
- Mariner thanks readers who helped Congress overturn the removal of genetically modified organism (GMO) notification on modified product labels. The Monsanto-backed bill was defeated by one vote: 49-48. The bill also would have provided Monsanto with protection from lawsuits for any reason. The bill had a nickname: the Monsanto gift bill.
- Nate Silver is mariner’s preferred statistician. Nate has a wide ranging website, www.fivethirtyeight.com . Nate and his staff cover everything including comprehensive analysis of sports, politics, economics, data phenomena and polls of every kind, census statistics, and more. The website is very entertaining, light reading, and full of prognostications. Most important, Nate is accurate! Today, mariner recommends visiting the website to read an article about how computerized databases know more about what you will do than you do. A subtitle says, “The world that you see is being configured to a probable reality that you haven’t yet chosen.” See: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/doug-rushkoff-says-companies-should-stop-growing/ .While on the site, look around….
- If the reader hasn’t found CNET already, give it a try. It’s an off-the-wall, gadget laden news site (along with endless gadgetry for sale). For example, there is a news video about self-lacing shoes on the market, what Adam Savage (Mythbusters) is doing now, buying gas with Apple Pay, robot delivery of pizza, and Jesse Jackson backs Apple regarding the FBI warrant – just to scratch the surface. http://www.cnet.com/
- A weekly tour guide that keeps the reader up to date should include at least the following websites:
http://www.theatlantic.com/ An excellent magazine; top caliber! Has several featured articles that provide insightful analysis of important issues.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world Least constricted coverage of world news; much less slanted than US international news.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ An unobtrusive website that provides clean news reporting and provides many branches to explore including PBS television.
http://www.politico.com/ All things political.
http://www.bloomberg.com/ Business and economic news with top headline coverage.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/ Nate Silver’s website; see review above.
http://www.livescience.com/ Latest in news from the science and environment sectors written for the unsophisticated viewer.
http://www.nytimes.com/section/books A place for all bibliophiles with new publications, many reviews, special interests and commentary.
http://espn.go.com/ Probably the most thorough coverage of all things sports. Search specific sports for in depth coverage of a single sport.
Finally, for information on an endless array of knowledge and personal interests – a liberal arts playground – see: https://www.wikipedia.org/ .