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News of the Day by Oliver DeMille

News of the Day by Oliver DeMille

October 10th, 2019 // 6:30 am @

It’s Getting Extreme Out There!

October 2019:

The news is tumultuous these days. Growing threats of impeachment, allegations that the leading presidential candidate broke the law in the Ukraine and China for family gain, the current president accused of numerous mistakes, partisans pointing angry fingers at each other, gaggles of “experts” assuring us that one side or the other is all wrong, wars and rumors of wars. It never seems to let up. Each newscast, day after day, brings the “Breaking News”, which amounts to the latet and worsening allegations, “gotcha” politics, and promises of more to come.

But we shouldn’t be worried about this. Seriously. The news media today isn’t nearly as extreme as it was in the 1830s with its battles between Andrew Jackson and the National Bank. That was a time of major division, anger, and a lot of violence. The 1850s news media was even worse. And the media climate in the Boss Tweed period (1870s), the height of the Muckraker era (1905-1925), and the counter-culture wars of the 1960s were far more divided than anything we now experience. Today’s media extremes aren’t even as tumultuous or noisy as the Jefferson vs. Hamilton conflicts, which were immediately followed by the Jefferson vs. Adams battles. Yes, today’s news is intense, partisan, and adversarial—but nothing as bad as these other times in American history.

We do tend to feel more upset by media extremism today than in the past, partly because television and other audio-visual media are more emotionally engaging than reading things in hard print, but mainly because during the relatively peaceful era between 1970 and 2014 most Americans came to believe in, and trust, the stated ideals of “modern objective journalism”. We bought into media and government as credible sources of true information. In 1973, for example, 42% of Americans had high confidence in Congress (today it’s 11%), and 46% had high confidence in television news (today it’s only 18%). But the era of objective journalism is now largely past, replaced by a return to the kind of turbulent, extremist, and intemperate news media that has been the norm in most free nations through history.

Scientist Carl Sagan described this when he wrote: “The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites [now down to 10 seconds or less]…but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”Jim Morrison warned: “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.”

But it turns out that Morrison was wrong on this point. The reality is that in most eras of media peace and quiet politics, freedom quickly declines. When the people are actively battling for their freedoms, politics is full of turmoil and political parties threaten each other with allegations, exaggerations, lies, and name-calling. In a free society, the masses want their government to be peaceful, quietly handling business, and their media professional, trusted, and smilingly civil. But in such times, freedom tends to be attacked and reduced behind the scenes.

In response, the people take notice, and (hopefully) push back—when they do, the politics and media heat up. Historical truth: If there isn’t commotion in politics, the people are losing ground. To get back their freedoms, and their control over the well-funded plans and agendas of elites, turbulence and uproar are needed. Madison told us that the American system was purposely designed so that such uproars would focus on elections, not violent revolutions. Good news: it’s working.

Part of this is easy to keep track of. When the media is polished, quiet, seemingly objective, and widely trusted, the people usually let politicians increase power (and decrease freedoms). In turbulent times like ours, the people see the media for what it is—mostly a propaganda arm of elite power. When the people don’t trust the media, freedom is in better shape than when the people just believe the news. Freedom thrives when the people don’t trust media, or politicians. When they keep a close eye on everything done by government, corporations, media, and elites. Such times are naturally more noisy, chaotic, and confusing. Which is precisely the reason the people pay attention. We are living right now in just such a time. Consider the approval rating* of the following major American institutions right now:

Very High

None

High

The Military 73%

Small Business 68%

Medium

Police 53%

The Presidency 38%

Supreme Court: 38%

The Medical System 36%

Organized Religion/Church 36%

Low

Banks 30%

Public Schools 29%

Very Low

Big Business 23%

Newspapers 23%

Television News 18%

Congress 11%

The fact that the nightly news and Congress suffer such low confidence from the American people tells us that we’re in a better place than most people think. Specifically: The people are watching, and they aren’t buying what Congress and the media are promoting. They just don’t trust these institutions. Only 18% and 11% confidence? Seriously? Of course, guess who tells us the opposite? The media. They’re trying to justify their jobs, and they’re not winning this debate. In fact, it’s getting worse for them the louder and more extreme they become. American confidence in the news media was 24% in 2016, 20% in 2017, and now down to 18%. If they keep this up, they could soon be as unpopular as Congress.

In short, if the nightly news is full of partisan conflict, it means a lot of people are fighting for our freedoms. That’s good news. So smile at the noisy media, and study a little deeper. That’s what good citizens do in times of turmoil. Of course, this doesn’t mean that current events in Washington aren’t important. They are. In fact, they are so important that wise Americans shouldn’t let themselves get distracted by media exaggerations or political in-fighting. Real challenges to our freedom are occurring, but much of what happens is different than the news reports. We all need to stay vigilant—keeping an eye on what’s really going on. When the media is loud and extreme, it’s usually hiding something, so pay attention and dig deeper than the news. And remember: if the media ever turns peaceful, quiet, not much commotion—that’s the time to be even more concerned.

*Source: Gallup


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3 Comments → “News of the Day by Oliver DeMille”


  1. Annette McCullough

    1 week ago

    Thank You Oliver,
    This is extremely well said and I, for one, had lost sight of the points you mentioned and was wrapped up int the visible corruption. I’ll keep listening but now with a broader view.


  2. Kami Wanous

    1 week ago

    Yes, thank you Oliver!
    This is a great perspective for all freedom lovers to remember, especially those caught in the emotions of the battles. This is good news. I live in CA and keep telling people, that though freedom here is losing drastically every year, it is also becoming so ridiculous that it is causing people to begin questioning and awakening. I’ve been watching people wake up and begin to pay attention, but it is slow, and I hope that the momentum will escalate quickly enough to head-off real disaster for freedom.


  3. Brad Bolon

    6 days ago

    Brilliant (as always), and a positive message of considerable value given the natural tendency to view chaos as calamity..


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