(A Very Long Personal PSA)
Nothing good has happened with this administration in four years. Nothing. No lives improved; no promised policies enacted; no acts of compassion shown. Everything out of the White House is pure evil from a monster that has not a shred of empathy, a villain with an itch for world war, which is why nothing good has happened in America in four years.
If you believe what I just wrote, oh baby, you might believe anything. And that’s a real danger.
I say that as one who used to believe it. All of it. I believed the 2016 news right up until the election. I read the headlines; I downloaded and saved the horrible news stories; I gobbled it up. And I wrote my articles and I made my jokes and I swallowed it all-hook, line and sinker. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but admit it, I will.
And then, something happened. As time went by, I noticed the astounding lack of good news regarding this administration. It simply wasn’t there. None. And if something positive was written or reported from a mainstream news source, it was quickly countered within the same story with something negative.
To be honest, I thought the problem was me and my perception. I reasoned I was making something out of nothing. So I headed over to NPR and found a Pew study from Donald Trump’s first 60 days in office. Researchers from the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project studied news stories from the early months of Trump’s presidency; if a story had at least twice as many negative as positive comments, the story was deemed negative. And vice versa. The findings concluded only 5% of the stories about Donald Trump’s first couple months in office were positive. It was as though there was an unwritten rule throughout the Halls of Mainstream Journalism and boardrooms of the Social Media Giants to cast this administration in the worst possible light at all times.
“FOLLOW THE AGENDA.”
So I widened my news sources even more. I wanted to find that 5%. I really dug into it. And when I did, I would find stories of hope and empathy and compassion, first hand accounts of kindness, but they would be buried on some obscure site. And if appearing on a mainstream news source, they would appear as only a blip on the news radar. Stories that, if happened under the previous administration, would lead the news that day.
And possibly be followed with a parade. And fireworks.
But good news stories like Criminal Justice Reform? Record unemployment? Middle East Peace Deal? Right to Try Legislation? $6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic? All brushed aside by the people who put the news in front of our faces. What’s more, the same news outlets who beat their chests proudly as they stood on their soapbox of journalistic integrity were running with all manner of stories; unverified stories; op/ed stories disguised as fact; stories from “anonymous sources”presented as truth so loud and so often that many in the general population believed them.
But not all believed them. And that’s when I started noticing something else.
I became aware of the viciousness with which a segment of the population treated those who weren’t buying into the negative news. I’m pretty sure going through a wood chipper would be less painful than what those people endured. Good, honest, hard working folks were mocked and called horrible things by people consumed with rage. I mean, not just angry but triggered way more than even Roy Roger’s horse. (Yes, that’s a cultural joke that most people won’t get because I’m old and use old cultural references but I like it, so it’s staying.)
And I looked around at all this and thought several things:
“What is happening?”
“How is this allowed to happen?”
“This isn’t right.”
“OMG. Is there enough vodka in the world for all of this?”
This clarity of thought reminded me of a moment long ago in my life. It was the moment I put on prescription glasses for the first time. I had never known I was near-sighted. I had lived all my life with poor vision and hadn’t known it until I stood in the optometrist’s office at the age of 22, looking through my brand new glasses, staring with amazement at things far off in the distance.I never knew anyone could see that clearly.
These last four years have been another amazing “prescription lens” moment for me. They have clarified the hazy and focused the blur. They have brought into sharp relief the hypocrisy of what passes for unbiased news and how readily many accept censorship if it fits their political narrative.
So, to wrap this all up, let me be clear: I’m not telling you what to think. That’s not up to me. If you feel differently, I will love and value you just the same. Seriously, it’s all good.
But as for me, I’m looking at the world around me in a new way. And now that I know what my vision SHOULD look like, I feel bad for all those years wasted, not seeing clearly.