I woke up Wednesday morning and naturally looked around the room. It was a bit messy, but otherwise quite normal. Actually, a bit messy IS quite normal. I enter the bathroom for the usual morning routine. Again, everything was quite normal. There was no blood or gooey ooze flowing my faucet as the horror movie producers portray – always a good sign.
I put on my gym clothes to show resolve to head out for some exercise. I find that putting them on first thing in the morning gives me at least a 50/50 chance of really going out and doing some exercise.
I went outside to check the weather and breath in some fresh air. The sun was just appearing on the horizon and the air was cool and refreshingly crisp. Refreshingly crisp is about as cold as it gets here in South Florida. My Black neighbor was heading to work. We smiled, waved and nodded as we always do.
I made a small breakfast. I took a pass on the bacon — and the eggs were not green no matter what Dr. Seuss wrote. Life was going on as normal even during these days of pandemics and political transitions.
I then turned on the television to catch the morning news. I suddenly believed that somehow I was living in a cocoon of calm and civility surrounded by a nation in chaos, danger and ruin.
At first, I thought I had inadvertently tuned into the Turner Classic Movie channel – and they were showing one of those apocalyptic productions. I went to the door to see if that sound on the roof the sky was falling. It was just one of those five-minute rain showers that come and go in Florida. I scanned the sky and did not see any giant comet hurling down on my domain.
I went back to the television only to discover that I had not been watching some disaster film. It was not even a re-run of “Network” – although it had that appearance. It was three movies in one – a horror flick of a pandemic raging across the nation, a heartbreaker film of a nation on the cusp of another Great Depression and a political thriller about a coup being implemented by a rogue President. The only things missing in the lineup were a plague of giant killer insects and alien aircraft toppling America’s most notable landmarks.
From the borderline hysterical reports, Movie One portrayed America as becoming Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” movie, in which John Cleese travels the streets summoning people to bring out their dead. Reporting on the worst health crisis in the world since the 1918 pandemic is important, but intimating – as news – that Covid-19 is on the scale of the Black Plague that killed one-third to one-half of the European population seemed hyperbolic.
So far, Covid-19 has infected about 3.5 percent of the American public – killed up to seven one-hundredths of a percent of the population. That is a lot of sadness and personal tragedy to be sure, but not on the level implied in news sensationalized news coverage, methinks. Relatively few people will contract the disease. Perhaps that is why so many go about their daily lives without obsessing over it.
Movie Two deals with the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown. The news media’s suggestion that this is akin to the Great Depression is not merely my interpretation. Using old language, they report “bread lines” and anecdotal evictions, and pandemic depression among the working class. They even illustrate their exaggerated reports with those somber images of the Great Depression.
Even with that massive shutdown, unemployment has not come close to Great Depression levels – and there are now all kinds of economic safety nets that did not exist in the 1930s. Not only has the stock market not crashed, it is soaring to record levels.
There is an unfortunate irresolvable dichotomy between the media scripts in movies One and Two. If you focus only on mitigating the pandemic, you WILL thrust the nation into another Great Depression. Conversely, if you fully unleash the economy, you will exacerbate the spread of the disease and the number of deaths. It is an unfortunate balancing act in which there is no win-win position.
Movie three was is a political thriller. According to the media, we have a malignantly deranged President in the midst of mental breakdown – besieged in his bedroom (yes, that is what they describe) issuing orders to some mythical force to seize control of the nation in order to remain in office in perpetuity – even as a newly elected President is waiting in the wings. Of course, that is just another fantastical script slipped into the pile of news copy.
The emphasis is on the absence of a “smooth transition” – with nutty suggestions that a transition may not take place or that the lack of smoothness for a couple months will doom the nation. They see the lack of a concession speech by President Trump is evidence of his malignant intent – failing to note that at this time in 2000, Democrat candidate Al Gore had not yet conceded and was fighting the results in the courts.
Flipping over to “Morning Joe,” I was struck by the viciousness of the ad hominin attacks on Trump and anyone associated with him – especially the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels could not have surpassed the ugliness of the MSNBC team in his infamous attack on Jews. The news as they spun it was a cesspool of mockery –and totally false – accusations.
They ironically complimented President-elect Joe Biden for his calm and patience – preferring to ease the anxieties of the public – even as they heatedly and fanatically stirred the cauldron of discontent and division.
After cursing the news channels – finding the usual divergence of what is news and newsworthy — I pondered whether those providing the so-called news really believe their internally concocted narratives, or whether they are, indeed, malicious manipulators of fact and reality for their own partisan political purposes.
Maybe — just maybe – that as I seem to live in a day-to-day world of calm and civility — where people go about their daily lives without the angst, antagonism and acridity reflected in the reports of the Fourth Estate — they exist in an even smaller cocoon encapsulating an arrogant New York media culture of multi-millionaires that magnifies their biased political agenda and their toxic image of a deplorable populace residing in an American netherworld.
Whether their reporting is based on malice aforethought – or a hopeless incapacity to forethink – makes little difference. The corrupt thinking and malignant use of the communicational powers of the east coast media is — I believe – a far greater threat to the democratic process than the temporary machinations of any political characters in some one-and-a-half hour American melodrama.
As in all “tempests in a teapot,” the inflated and hyperventilated Draconian predictions of today’s media will slip away quietly as the marker of history moves forward – leaving only meaningless memories of the B-level “movies” we were forced to endure in real time.
So, there ’tis.