How I watch the news these days
The 2016 presidential election was undoubtedly one for the history books. We are still feeling its aftershocks today and are still trying to adapt to this earthquake’s changes. Since then, I’ve changed significantly from this unusual development in American politics. The most notable change in my lifestyle is how I watch the news these days.
Recently, I took a political science class at UNT and I’ve been able to gain a deeper insight into American media’s influence on politics. The class has changed my opinion on cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News; I’ve only become more opposed to watching any of them. In general, the class has taught me that cable news channels’ content is biased and shallow.
This has only been amplified by the recent presidential election. Gone are the days of reliable breaking news reports upon which we could rely. Today, I follow the Associated Press and Reuters News on Twitter and no longer check CNN as I did religiously many years ago. When I began reading CNN.com in 2011, the news stories didn’t have clickbait headlines. Instead, the content’s quality was high and obviously the headlines were professional and summarized well. Upon reflection, sure, the articles were usually shallow, but they weren’t as shallow as today. They certainly were not as biased as today. I did appreciate learning my international affairs from CNN, and if they weren’t covered well, I would read that week’s edition of The Economist to supplement. Overall, it was a very agreeable experience. But that experience is only a pipe dream today.
I’m no longer surprised, but I continue to be shocked by the interactions that happen between anchors and commentators. Today, I saw Don Lemon trending on Twitter. Mildly interested by what trouble he was causing today, I saw the clip of Don Lemon’s show where he cut off the outspoken conservative commentator. This made me cringe. Neither side had respect for the other, regardless of how valid each side’s points were. Apparently, none of the other side’s opinions were valid, and all of them were offensive and unbearable. While they may truly be offensive, it’s still not acceptable to be hearing any of this on TV. Where has the civility gone? That is what I truly expect for TV news, not ad hominem bickering. On a higher level, this is yet another example of how these cable news channels have become echo chambers these days. What happened to “if they go low, we go high!”?
Watching these heated conversations makes my blood boil. It always makes my blood boil. Perhaps these cable news channels know that their content makes their viewers unreasonably angry. In fact, their primary goal of being biased is to attract a dedicated viewership, so it makes sense that they have now resorted to appealing to our thymos. Philosophy defines logos to be our rational soul, thymos to be our spirited soul, and epithymos to be our appetitive soul. Cable news channels have devolved from logos-appealing (which I desire) to thymos-appealing. Now, instead of being enlightened by rational logic, we are bombarded by angering conversations. In effect, our ability to think rationally is stripped away from us. This is a problem. Perhaps that is why each side accuses each other of “brainwashing” with their bias. Yet, it only makes sense if a third-party neutral observer asserts such a claim.
In short, I have moved on from shallow, thymos-appealing cable news channels and now read neutral news sources that minimally exhibit bias in their content and nostalgically remind me of the renaissance of CNN.com’s content.