Mazzuca: ‘Tis the season
Recently I had an experience that truly saddened me. It occurred at my local pharmacy when a woman who I didn’t immediately recognize said hello to me. Trying to gloss over the fact that I couldn’t quite recall her name I said, “Oh, hi, I didn’t recognize you with the stocking cap on.”
The woman immediately launched into what I would call a mini-rant about the president: “We gotta get rid of Trump, he’s crazy, he’s terrible for the country, I’m a Republican but I’m going to vote Democrat, etc., etc.” This went on for a minute or two and I was genuinely taken back by her vitriolic tone and didn’t understand why her outrage was directed at me. After all, I hadn’t mentioned the president in commentary since mid-August and even then I didn’t defend him; rather I documented the most vicious lie the media has ever perpetrated about him.
Nonetheless, I was completely nonplussed. Hoping to defuse the situation I said something to the effect of, “Well at least our 401ks are doing great.” Boy did I get that wrong! The woman responded, “Is that the extent of your morality?” Whoa, Nellie! This was becoming contentious when the owner who must have overhead the incipient brouhaha bolted out of his office and immediately engaged me in a discussion about skiing. The womn picked up her prescription and left without further incident.
Afterward, I thought to myself, this is the Christmas season, so where is this coming from? Then an opinion I expressed in a June 10 commentary occurred to me, when I wrote, “For the most part I don’t think our underlying political differences are as great as they appear; rather I suspect they’re more a consequence of where we get our information.”
And I believe the truth of that statement more than ever and will illustrate with one recent example. Those who watched the inspector general’s testimony last week know Fox News began its coverage by broadcasting Republican chairman Lindsey Graham’s 40-minute opening statement — the statement that framed the hearing. But for some unknown reason, MSNBC chose to begin its broadcast only after Sen. Graham finished but did manage to air Dianne Feinstein’s opening statement.
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Meanwhile, CNN put Graham’s opening statement on a small split screen while their hosts spoke over the senator’s comments — a distinction without a difference because CNN viewers never got to hear Graham’s opening statement either.
What were these news organizations trying to accomplish? Why wouldn’t they allow their viewers to see and hear both sides of the argument? I can only speculate, but as Bill O’Reilly opined, “That’s the end of NBC being a news organization in America. If you choose to watch them or ‘The Today Show’ or any of their ‘news’ shows, know you’re not watching news that is designed to inform.”
This is truly a sad situation and I believe the media is doing irreparable harm to this nation. Long gone and never to return are the likes of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and even Tim Russert. It also makes me wonder what the media is going to report on after Donald Trump leaves office whether in one or five years.
Debate and disagreement are a part of political discourse and arguments are both expected and necessary; after all, even reasonable juries differ. But it seems that facts have never mattered less and truth has been so contorted that it’s become whatever that particular media source can convince people to believe.
My daughter lives in Hollywood and, as one might expect, is very liberal, but I will not allow ideology to affect our relationship. Two of my oldest friends, one a highly decorated Green Beret and a fraternity brother, the other my former flight school roommate and fellow Naval Aviator, are both so far left sometimes I wonder what planet they live on. Nonetheless, they remain two of my dearest friends and this would not have changed regardless of the outcome of the last election.
Now I’m not going to get schmaltzy about the season being one of peace on Earth to men of goodwill, but c’mon, was the outburst I received really necessary, especially during this time of year? The woman who cuts my hair tells me she won’t reveal her political leanings in the age of Trump for fear of the reaction she’ll receive. And while this is anecdotal, I’ve experienced the same, as have numerous other friends.
I’m not proposing we sing “Kumbaya” together, but I will make a suggestion: that we insert a modicum of civility into our political discussions by embracing a notion that’s quite popular in liberal precincts these days —diversity. But by diversity I mean diversity of thought and opinion, which may even include (heaven forbid!) gathering our information from a true cross-section of media outlets, not just the ones that agree with our personal ideologies.
Quote of the day: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” — Thomas Jefferson
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.