I had the news on the other night, and Brian Williams asked one of the panelists a question about something related to the Mueller investigation.
Before she had a chance to answer, I knew what she was going to say. I’d heard this argument laid out before, many times, on other news shows and podcasts. I often have MSNBC on in the afternoons when I’m making dinner. And, oh yeah, I’ve been known to eat breakfast with Morning Joe.
(He and Mika are my OTP.)
Just like how I used to know the names of every actor on every TV show and in every movie, I now know all the major players littering the current political landscape. I’m on top of the breaking news. I sense when something big is about to drop. While trying to stay informed, I’ve also inadvertently allowed current affairs to become my new “entertainment” obsession.
That’s a shameful thing I just admitted, but it’s true.
The news cycle has become what we talk about around the proverbial water cooler. There are too many TV shows to keep track of these days, what with streaming and cable and the DVR. No one is watching the same stuff at the same time. If I go to a party and bring up Better Call Saul, people will give me the dead-eyed stare. But if I bring up Michael Avenatti? Oh, now we’ve got a stew going.
Because we’re all watching the news. (Or most of us are, anyway. And even if we’re not, we know enough to get by.)
But we’re not all watching the same show, are we?
It’s like back when everyone was watching Seinfeld, and we could all quote the show and name the characters and guest stars. But then there’d be, like, that one guy you knew who bragged about never watching the show and claiming that McKenna, a show that apparently aired opposite Seinfeld during ’94-’95 and starred Jennifer Love Hewitt, was WAAAY better than Seinfeld. He knew the truth, and we sheeple watching Seinfeld were delusional.
And now we’re kind of in the same boat. I know my show’s major storylines and players. But the guy at the gym who only watches FOX knows what he knows and believes what he believes. I’m right, he’s wrong. He’s right, I’m wrong.
But we’re not dealing with fictional characters. We’re watching reality play out through different filters. So, this shouldn’t come down to opinion. There should be a cache of basic facts we all can agree on. And yet.
I’m sitting here writing this all smug that I’m following the OTS (the One True Storyline). The journalists I follow hunt for the truth. The partisans I watch and listen to don’t blindly praise whatever the Democrats are doing. They search, question, think. They do not trust every word that comes from an administration that started lying to us from the jump (crowd size, anyone?), nor to they gobble up every word from Chuck Schumer. (Now Kamala Harris, on the other hand…)
But. What about the people who’ve been conditioned for decades to believe the media, the Democrats, and Hollywood have been selling them a hill of beans, the people who trust that only the “Fair and Balanced” network is giving them the real story, the people who see conspiracies around every corner because how is it even possible that the people on the left might be telling the truth? They firmly believe that they’re getting the real scoop from the people they trust and listen to.
All I’m saying is, I liked it better when we were just fighting over whether or not Seinfeld was good.