|By Bob Weaver August 2022|
About three years ago I quit watching TV media news of all ilks and ignore socal media. I still read newspapers and books. My life got a little bit better.
TV news and social media have helped create a divided county, placing a wobbly legged, bulbous democracy on alert, signaling its collapse.
The extreme pitch and facial pandering of talking head "newscasters" in the 21st Century, reminds us of times past, the drama-free,even-keeled voices of Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. Now, TV news personalities who can smirk and smile and report "chaos" within ten seconds, get the multi-million dollar jobs.
Historians and socialogists might say within human history, principalities, kingdoms, civilizations and nations come and go, and with the Great American Experiment, the red flags are fluttering with a divided USA.
It seems that politically, "winners" come for those who create the most fuss, chaos and confusion, now filtering down to state and local politics, and much of the trend has been driven by money grubbing mogels seeking a bigger audience and more bucks.
Social media philandering picked up on the egregious trend, every person having their own self-say, their own editor and publisher, often
with conspiracy theories a driver.
It is not likely divided voters will consider a need to prop up the old ship and keep it going.
Many TV viewers keep their TV set on their favorite news channel, addicted to their one news channel which they like.
Research has shown that watching too much news coverage of traumatic events, those most featured by news channels, can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and stress.
People who constantly follow the news tend to be less engaged in real life with their neighbors.
The former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, a Wheeling WV native, has written a book about TV news -"Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back."
Stirewalt reveals how news organizations have succumbed to the temptation of revenue through slanted coverage that drives political division and rewards outrageous conduct.
Rage revenue-addicted news companies are plagued by shoddy reporting, sensationalism, groupthink, and brain-dead partisan tribalism. Newsrooms rely on emotion-driven blabber to entrance conflict-addled super users.
In "Broken News", Stirewalt, celebrated as one of America's sharpest political analysts in print and on television, employs his trademark wit to explain these companies reward bad journalism because they like it. It is easy and profitable.
As a top editor and election forecaster on Fox News decision desk during the 2020 election, he knows firsthand what happens when viewers (including the president of the United States) become more accustomed to flattery and less willing to hear news that punctures their bubbles.
More than 2 in 5 Americans say a U.S. civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next decade, highlighting the deepening political divisions.
A recent 2022 poll by YouGov and The Economist found that 43% believe a civil war was somewhat likely.
Polarization right now is at the highest level in decades, if not going all the way back to the Civil War, Thomas Gift, director of the University College London's Center on U.S. Politics said in an interview.
He noted this type of conflict doesn't typically break out in wealthy, democratic countries and it's unclear what respondents imagine when they think of a Civil War after January 6, with US Senator Lindsey Graham (R) warning if former President Donald Trump is indicted, there will be a Civil War.
The US is driven by entertaining themselves to death along with conspicuous consumption, the "Me Generation."
Populist politicians seeking more totalitarian control have or are taking down the world's democracies.
40-year Emmy winning NBC and CBS journalist Ed Rabel, a native of Charleston WV, said "Selfishness is killing us."
"Once, after traveling over all the world, I thought I lived in the greatest country on earth. I was wrong. I realize now that I live in a country that is dying from the very same diseases I thought we were well on the way to conquering racism, bigotry, hatred, and fear. My hope was we were prevailing in our struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."
Rabel speaks of four money-driven corporations controlling the nation's mass media.
About 35 years ago the major news networks shifted from independent news departments, placing them under their entertainment divisions. Most reported news now replaced by "talking heads."
"I think as big corporations like Disney started owning networks, coupled with the audience being fragmented by cable TV news, the Internet and social networks, this all has led to a diminution or reduction in the kind of news that is presented, and I think the audience is shortchanged as a result of that," Rabel said.
Further, to take life away from real human beings is the coming of Artificial Intelligence. While politicians keep saying it needs to be controlled. It will not happen.
I was introduced to the concept in 1968 by watching Kubrick's "2001-A Space Odyssey" at the Robey Theatre in Spencer, where AI "Hal" takes over.
It is not likely the current destructive course can change, unless a monumental event occurs, like an alien visit from another galaxy.
Rabel's "selfishness," further exaberated in the 21st Century, will likely keep the planet on a self-destructive course.
I hope to be wrong.