Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Look At The Popcorn

I can't decide what's going on. In general, my first thought when getting on Twitter these days is, "Fuck me, what's he gone and done now?" I usually scroll three times, figure out what the President has said that has caused the Elitist Leftist Upper Crust/Progressives/Normal, Sane and Sensible People that long for a moderate, sensible President to lose their collective shit. Then, I do my level best to avoid the internet for the rest of the day.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: neither the media nor the opposition/Resistance or whatever the hell you want to call it, should swing at every pitch. (Come to think of it, neither should the President, but that's a different story.) Yet all the media is doing these days is swinging away at every single pitch and I think it's starting to do the more harm than good. I think, anyway. (Because I can't decide what's going on.) But consider this: while everyone is losing their shit over The President's latest Tweetstorm, what's he actually done?

An early budget report has the administration slashing funding for Great Lakes protection by 97%. 97%! It's getting huge coverage on the regional level, but nationally, people should be losing their goddamn minds about it. And in general, it gets mentioned, but what the President tweeted last night is infinitely more important.

I've decided that it's The Popcorn Effect. The President says something and the media loses it's shit and hey, presto- there's popcorn! And the media thinks that they're making the President look like a lunatic and to a large cohort of people who agree with the media and disagree with the President, that's what they want to agree with, but there's always a kernel of truth to everything that he says. Consider the Sweden thing. This is what the President said:
"You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden, They took in large numbers [of refugees from Muslim-majority countries]. They're having problems like they never thought possible."
Did he say there was a terrorist attack in Sweden the night before? Do the words 'terrorist attack' appear anywhere in the sentence? A reasonable person might infer that the President was referring to an attack or an incident of some kind- but the media actually reported it as fact. Hey, presto- there was popcorn! But what happened a few days later? Riots in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the suburbs of Stockholm. And oh by the way, Sweden is bringing back the draft. Ostensibly because of Russia, but...  maybe for other reasons too. Now, what those two facts mean in the wake of the President's comments is an open question depending on who you talk too and for sure, it would be great if there were reporters in America that would actually you know, go to Sweden and write long, thoughtful pieces about the actual reality of the situation. Maybe it's all overblown right wing garbage. Maybe Sweden isn't assimilating immigrants as well as it should be. I don't know. But I would love to see an outfit somewhere go beyond the popcorn and start looking at the kernel because when all the popcorn is gone, the masses are left the impression that the President said something "true" and the media lied about it and they're not entirely wrong. But they're not entirely right either.*

It's the same thing with this wiretapping mess. We know that a FISA Request was made in June 2016 and was rejected. In October another request was made and this time approved. What it was supposed to cover, what it said or what exactly was done, we don't know. But that's the kernel. We find out what the request covered or didn't cover then we get to the bottom of this mess. Happily though, I checked The Intercept and found this.** Talk about cutting through the bullshit and getting right to the kernel of the matter.

I can't decide what's going on. Either the mainstream media/The Left/whomever is right and President Trump is crazy and possibly in bed with the Russians or more terrifyingly, President Trump knows exactly what he's doing and the media is just going to keep swinging like crazy at every pitch and looking increasingly frail, forlorn and idiotic as they do so and thoroughly undermining themselves as they do so.

But we can't control that- but what we can control is what and how we consume media. Don't just go to your usual haunts to get your news. Go everywhere, read everything-  be informed. (For instance, on the Sweden thing, this article seems to be more credible to me than this article about the Wiretapping Mess. Both are from center-right to right leaning sources, but The Weekly Standard seems more interested in the getting to the truth of the matter than the article from Front Page Mag on the Wiretaps does.) Point being: get to the kernel and draw your own conclusions. Just don't look at the popcorn.

*OK, I have to acknowledge: this reporting might be out there. I just might not have dug hard enough to find it- but for stuff like this, you shouldn't have to dig. That reporting- whether it exists or not, should be the story. Not the fluff and popcorn. 

**The Intercept should be on everyone's rolodex. Especially for stuff like this- they impressed the hell out of me during the initial round of Russian election tampering allegations by pointing out that anonymous sources were no substitute for actual evidence- and they're doing it again with this wiretapping business. The President can end all this whenever he wants. 

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