Giving Up, Checking Out, Moving On

It’s amazing this didn’t happen sooner. There were millions of reasons to do it earlier, but I ignored the warning signs and kept hoping.  This day, I am done.

The reinvention of the political conversation seems to have been shelved, and I don’t like it.

I am repulsed by virtually all things political. I am sickened by discussions of politics. I’m tired of politicians, talking heads, policy advisors and pundits. I’m fed up with fact checking. I’m horrified at the thought of watching hosts screaming at guests, guests talking over each other. I’m bored with bombast, ideology and lies.

Comments on political blogs are (to partially steal from a recent Deadspin article) raw sewage, a vile, creepy, racist cesspool from which zero information or perspective can be gained. If I was stupid enough to suggest on a blog health care reform is crucial to our country’s future, I would be carpet bombed with threats and accusations of my communist tendencies.

Republicans are pasty white. They exist solely for the protection of white wealth and Anglo culture. They are paternalistic Talibanesque overlords of our personal lives, sexual orientation and reproductive systems.

Democrats are a rainbow of hypocritical spokesholes for government as client for all of our problems. There is no special interest that shouldn’t be funded. They don’t care who we sleep with, as long as we’re paying taxes, surcharges, special assessments and revenue enhancements.



Fox News channel is a cabal of angry elderly white people (viewer’s average age is 65).

MSNBC is a limp collection of whiny, patronizing socialist schlock (viewer’s average age 59).

Nobody watches CNN, the network who consistently flails at attempts of eschewing opinion for “news”.

Reporters for major (and minor) media companies take politicians at their word, repeating their dribble, their outrageous lies and their verbal sludge.

Example from a controversial New York Times blog:

“…then perhaps the next time Mr. Romney says the president has a habit of apologizing for his country, the reporter should insert a paragraph saying, more or less:

“The president has never used the word ‘apologize’ in a speech about U.S. policy or history. Any assertion that he has apologized for U.S. actions rests on a misleading interpretation of the president’s words.”

They don’t call out the liars. They seek to retain cozy relationships with their sources, and do not create a wall between subject and ultimate, undeniable fact.

No one can be believed. Nothing spoken can be taken at face value. Ernest passion is a front for political contributions and the people who make them.

Sites that desperately attempt “non-partisan” analysis of news and politics are flooded by a tsunami of extreme right and far left propaganda.

One simple utterance of any political position is usually met with a rant of contrary thought, cloaked in vicious vitriol.

We are so busy yelling at each other, we have stopped listening.

When you wake up with Glenn Beck, spend lunch with Rush Limbaugh (average listener age 65) then have dinner with Sean Hannity, you have sealed yourself in a bubble  of one stream of thought, one world view, one singular point of view.

When you wake up with Mother Jones, have lunch with Pacifica public radio (no one under 40 listening) then have dinner with Rachel Maddow, you have eliminated any critical thinking from your universe.

I have met Rachel several times. She’s whip smart, snarky, and incredibly articulate. She enjoys a good beer.  Likeable and approachable she is,  but her shoes are cemented in partisanship. I know a guy who is good friends with Hannity. He’s known to be funny, kind and generous, a good pal and neighbor. His TV act prohibits him from even 1% pragmatic conversation.

Political media is polemic. It is occupied by agitators, liars, heretics, haters, opportunists, incendiary provocateurs, propagandists and revisionists. We are in a post-truth society (Paul Krugman said that, and I agree). We have stopped listening, except to capture politician’s gaffes on hard drives and broadcast them to anyone who will take a bite of our poison apples.

We had a moment where young people cared about politics. They elected their guy. Hope and optimism has been replaced with cynicism and apathy once again.

This is a cry for help. I loathe the current media climate, but I yearn for substantive conversation.

David Brooks is a smart conservative – a talented writer and author. He’s not a Republican, he’s a conservative. Big difference. Brooks has no agenda other than to consider and discuss politics. He has a point of view, one that I often disagree with, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have over for dinner. He would challenge my  notions, and allow me to shine some light on issues and subjects. He could change my mind, and I’d do it in front of him. I’d say, “Good point. You’re right, sir.”

There’s another David I would welcome at my fantasy dinner table – David Gergen. He’s a Harvard professor and a CNN commentator. Gergen has served four U.S. Presidents; three Republicans and a Democrat. He worked for Bain Capital. He says he’s an independent and I believe him. He would join the conversation with tales of real-life political battles, and would be respectful of all the people at the table.

Let’s toss in liberal Doris Kearns-Goodwin, presidential historian, author and Red Sox fan. An invite would also be sent to Jon Stewart, who would crack wise and keep it real.

A man can dream.

I admit to being boring when it comes to politics. You can try to goad me into a fight, but I will never, ever bite. You will never see me proclaim much of anything political in a public forum or at a cocktail party. I won’t take the partisan bait. It’s a conversation that can have no possible conclusion, therefore I’m out. I will walk away rather than engage.

I am choosing to never again watch political television or consume any type of political content online, unless and until you, Dear Reader, can give me some resources for political content on TV and iPad that is not hyper partisan. Sometimes the Right is right. Sometimes the Left is correct. I want analysis of issues mostly untainted by agenda, fueled only by the desire to be accurate and fair. I want to read truths, then decide in private whether they are mine. I will still vote in every election. I will have my say, but I’m not discussing my votes.

Unless you would like to just…talk. We can do that.

Real, accurate, mostly “fair” political news? Where is it? Tell me below. I dare you to post something boring and educational.

John Scott is the carer services manager, the national online learning coordinator and a media history instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention. His debut book Broken Glass and Barbed Wire will be released soon. Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.

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