The president and the press seem to be very much at odds, more so than I have ever seen.
Every day it seems I have to watch this pattern repeat itself: The press accuses the president of lying; the president accuses the press of lying; people argue about who is telling the truth; heated arguments break out; the term “Fake News” gets tossed around, and then we go to sleep.
It feels like a scene from “Groundhog Day.”
I have a system I like to use so as to avoid getting caught up in the minutia. This system generally allows me to sift through the nonsense without losing my mind.
And with all of the people losing their minds these days, I figured I would offer up my system to you as a recommendation with how to proceed in these crazy times.
1. Acknowledge nobody has a monopoly on truth. The president and his staff – just like all those in the past – are going to be untruthful at times when it suits their agenda. The same has been true of the media (as T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner has documented extremely well). Be sure to treat BOTH sides with skepticism at all times, especially when something seems to suit your own biases perfectly. As Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch Tweeted, “When a news article fulfills your most urgent political desires, and is based 100% on anonymous sources of unstated motivation, be skeptical.”
2. Play the waiting game. Since neither side has a monopoly on truth, it stands to reason that a lot of what you see and hear is going to end up being inaccurate. Social media exacerbates this problem, since an incorrect quote or story can spread all over the internet within minutes and the correction usually goes relatively unnoticed. Whenever anything comes out – from the president or a media report – wait a while for more details to emerge before jumping to conclusions.
3. Make sure to read people who challenge your views. I would say that I lean somewhat conservative, but I make sure to read liberal and libertarian sources so that I can get a full picture on every issue, rather than just having my existing views reinforced. If you are liberal and need some good conservatives to read, I recommend Charles CW Cooke of National Review, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist, and Ben Shapiro of the Dailywire. As far as liberals, three of my favorites are Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept, Michael Tracey of the Young Turks, and Nathan J Robinson of Current Affairs. For the libertarian perspective, Thomas E Woods of the Mises Institute, Radley Balko of the Washington Post, and Matt Welch of Reason Magazine are all worth checking out. All of these people may aggravate you by pushing opinions you don’t like, but that is the entire point. Get out of your comfort zone and avoid living in an “echo chamber” at all cost.
4. Use cable news and talk radio only for entertainment. There is nothing wrong with watching Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC all day – or listening to somebody like Rush Limbaugh or Thom Hartmann – just as long as you understand that they are basically “infotainment.” There may be some worthwhile stories covered and you may become exposed to interesting panelists, but you cannot learn about any issues in any kind of real depth from television or radio soundbites. So enjoy radio and television, but do not rely on them.
So that’s my system. Feel free to use it if you wish. I hope it helps!