The golf course, a red cap, making America great again and the problem with cable TV news on New Year’s Eve
I was on my next-to-last hole of a painfully slow round of golf on Sunday, waiting to hit my tee shot, when the twosome playing behind me finished and got to the tee, as well.
I invited them to join me for the last two holes, which they did.
It was, of course, a mistake, or I wouldn’t be writing this on New Year’s Eve.
I was wearing a bright red golf cap — For the record, it had a P on the front and the logo of Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort on the left side — when one of the men I’d asked to play with me said, “When I saw you from a distance, I thought that was a MAGA hat.”
His name was Chas, and he was wearing a hat that had some military mention on it.
I chuckled and said, “No,” and thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.
Chas was worked up. He started to pace and said in a loud and angry tone, “I’m probably the only one here who has been alone in a room with Hillary. And let me tell you, she is a fucking [expletive].”
He was referring, of course, to former First Lady, former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I’d done nothing to elicit this response other than to say no when he said he thought I was wearing a MAGA hat.
Chas began to get animated as he paced back and forth on the tee box as we waited to hit our drives. He was cursing Hillary repeatedly, I assume as a way to get back at me. He was dropping f-bombs at a record clip, and used the c-word repeatedly.
Chas didn’t know whether I was Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative and had no idea who I had supported at any time in any election. Saying no to a MAGA cap had set him off.
I could just chalk up his angry reaction to one uncouth person with little common sense, but I think it’s more than that.
We are polarized by our political affiliations like never before in the U.S., and our enemies, especially the Russians, are loving it. It started 30 years ago, but the partisan split that has pitted our citizens against each other is more intense with each election. It’s heartbreaking.
President Trump has done nothing to try to be the leader of all Americans. He is the president of those who agree with him, and it further polarizes this country.
This is attributable to the dominance of cable news in modern media. In an attempt to differentiate themselves, the cable news channels play to a core audience. Fox, of course, has chosen the conservatives, and so virtually every position President Trump takes is the only one that will save the country from eternal damnation.
MSNBC has chosen the liberals, and devotes an overwhelming amount of its coverage to Trump’s failures and what it believes is Trump’s impending downfall.
There is wonderful print and online reporting being done, but the cable news channels are beyond awful and make the problem worse. They cover the horserace and they play to their bases and there is precious little analysis of the issues.
I’d love to see Fox, MSNBC and CNN cover the news like NPR does on radio, or like public television does. They should do analysis and deep dives into critical issues. Forget the endless talking heads. Instead, examine policy and its failure and weaknesses.
Try to explain to the public what is really required for effective immigration reform, or health care reform, or environmental improvement.
I’d love to see them take a critical look at cybersecurity.
We know, however, that’s not going to happen because Fox, CNN and MSNBC aren’t necessarily trying to educate and inform the public, they’re trying to make a profit. That is the key distinction.
As citizens, we have an obligation to be better informed, so that we elect more qualified representatives. If you vote based solely on the political party of a candidate, you are doing your country a significant disservice.
If I could grant one wish for the New Year, it would be for us to become a more informed and engaged electorate. If that were the case, perhaps the next person I met on the golf course wouldn’t be cursing Hillary Clinton but would be discussing the merits of health care reform with me.
We are as Americans, theoretically, on the same side. But we sure don’t act like it.
Let’s hope our leaders recognize the seriousness of this issue and work to mend the fractures they’ve built. Let’s hope the cable news channels up their games and cover the news aggressively, fairly and from a neutral point of view.
And let’s all have a safe, prosperous and Happy 2019.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a friend.