Chris Wallace rides off into the sunset

Chris Wallace’s leaving Fox News is telling and should raise more than a few eyebrows. Yet, we should not forget last month Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hays left Fox because of the Tucker Carlson supported false flag documentary of the January 6 insurrection.

And, we should not forget the former president having Shepard Smith fired by Fox as he had the temerity to be critical of the then president. William Barr met with Fox executives and Smith was gone the next day. Smith, like Wallace, were actual news people. And, Goldberg and Hays had a lot of crediblility. Carlson, Hannity et al are just opinion hosts who look to sensationalize not report. 

In an article called “Fox news host confronts Lindsey Graham over backing tax cuts that add $2T to deficit,” by Jason Lemon of Newsweek, why Wallace will be missed is in evidence as he put Senator Lindsey Graham on the spot.

“Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, on Sunday over supporting former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts—which are projected to add some $2 trillion to the national debt—while criticizing Democrats for pushing forward legislation that is not entirely paid for.

Graham, along with other Republican lawmakers, has strongly criticized President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better Act, raising alarms that it will add hundreds of billions to the deficit if passed into law. Last month, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the social spending package ‘would result in a net increase in the deficit of $367 billion over the 2022-2031 period, not counting additional revenue that may be generated by additional funding for tax enforcement.’

Wallace pointed out to Graham during an interview on Fox News Sunday that he supported Trump’s signature tax cuts in 2017, despite CBO estimating they’d add some $2 trillion to the deficit. When those tax cuts were passed, Republicans claimed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves, despite the CBO scoring.”

A link to the full article is below. The above is just one example of what Wallace does. He was an outlier at Fox News, but now he is not even that. This is telling.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/fox-news-host-confronts-lindsey-graham-over-backing-tax-cuts-that-add-2t-to-deficit/ar-AARK0U6?ocid=msedgntp

To defeat bullies, punch them in the nose with facts

With the proliferation of social media, it has never been easier to lie, misinform and disinform. To autocrats like Vladimir Putin, who was trained as a KGB agent on disinformation, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. People might say Putin is not such, as he stands for election, but jailing your opponents and controlling the airwaves, does not lend itself to a fair election. This is disinformation in its own right.

The only way to beat bullies who lie, misinform and disinform, is to not believe them and do our homework. Folks like Trump, Kim, Xi, Cuomo, Morrison, Johnson, Nunes, Gosar, Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Gohmert, DeSantis, Abbott, et al, do not want to be questioned on facts. They do not handle it very well.

I have many favorite stories about the last former US president not being aware of details, but when one reporter questioned him after the umpteenth time he had said he passed a bill, she pointed out the bill had been passed in 2014 and he was not president until 2017. He was clueless that he did not sign the bill. It is harder to argue when you just don’t know.

If you read Kim’s bio, he is God-like with super-human powers. Really? I expect people like Xi, Putin, and Kim to control the narrative. That is what they do. The uptick in right wing extremism is correlated to Putin’s hackers and trolls controlling the narrative in other countries. He has succeeded in making the west more unruly, due to his shenanigans. My guess is even Putin is amazed at how easy it has been. Common sense is not all that common, Mark Twain is alleged to have said.

What frustrates me is how gullible Americans, Brits, and Australians have been to elect people who overtly lie and bully people to submission. The fact they do this is not newsworthy. The fact that people elected these folks is. Here in the states, we could very well reelect a person who is trying his best to mask evidence that he betrayed his country on top of trying to “burn it all down” as his niece put it, because his shallow ego cannot take losing.

Johnson, who would daily thank his lucky stars for Trump, as he looked better in comparison to the US president, is ironically Prime Minister during the sluggardly Brexit execution as his selected blindness to facts helped precipitate the leave vote. Of course, seeing Johnson get elected was stunning to me, but pales in comparison that we Americans elected a person who has a measurable track record of being untruthful and cheating people as did Trump.

So, what do we do? Read and watch several credible sources of information. What is credible? First, they are not opinion shows. Second, the decibel level is lower with less screaming and yelling and more civil debate. This is a reason I like NPR as one of my sources – thoughtful people sharing news and their opinions whether you fully agree with them or not. Third, the amount of namecalling and labeling is less. Fourth, they will disclose conflicts of interest and provide errata when they get something wrong.

People used to be upset when they found out they were fooled. Now, when fooled by misinformation, they just go back to the source to confirm the facts are not real. The last former US president will have many legacies which will go down in infamy, but the one which may be the worst legacy is calling criticism “fake news.” This term is now used worldwide.

Here is a person who has lost about 64 out of 65 court cases (I lost count above sixty), saying the election was stolen from him and lost every audit and review of election results, and his fans still believe him. That is an unfathomable track record of losing, yet it is fake news according to the former president. Those followers may want to ask why his attorneys are forking out $175,000 in court costs for frivolous cases in Michigan, announced last week. And, one attorney of his has been suspended in two locations (DC and New York) and another is facing disbarment.

Facts. Details. Questions. An untruthful and bullying person’s worst fears.

News that is not news

While I do like reading and watching less biased and more credible news sources, I have dialed it back some. A key reason is even the better sources focus too much on whose tribe is winning or losing on an issue and less on the issue itself. As a result, fewer issues of import are discussed. 

One reason is the politicians focus more on getting or keeping their job and less on doing their job. What results is a mind-boggling amount of time spent keeping things from getting done even when the action is helpful to people and the majority actually want it done. And, it is even more frustrating when politicians are against something they have supported in the past only because the other tribe brought it up

This blocking of actions is aided and abetted by pseudo-news sources and opinion hosts. These sycophants play a heavy hand in the BS that is a poor substitute for facts and data. I sadly expect this from pseudo-sources and opinion host, but it frustrates me when better news sources speak on who is winning or losing as much as they do.

Our infrastructure bill is at least ten years overdue. There are have been multiple bipartisan pushes to get something passed. Even the preceding president mentioned it during his campaign and Democrat leadership actually welcomed discussion, in spite of efforts to rewrite history that they did not. It has finally gotten passed and yet the tribal protections have gotten in the way of saying this is a good thing even though Americans favored it.

So, let’s encourage our elected officials and news sources to focus on the issues and less on zero-sum games of winning and losing. Accelerating action on climate change, addressing global water concerns, addressing the huge plastic island floating in the Pacific, dealing with debt and deficit issues, expanding health care access further, etc. are all issues that need to be discussed and dealt with.

News that is not news can be ignored. And, citing the latest name calling or labelling of a perceived enemy tribe is just reporting on childish behavior. I don’t need the news to tell me some politicians are being childish.

That broad brush

I responded to a comment on another post and felt the general theme needed a brief mention here. I will leave off the specifics, as the general theme could apply to almost any subject. We tend to paint people and groups with too broad a brush when we read or hear criticism. I know I do, so I need to guard against that tendency and back off.

Two key points. First, bad behavior sells more readily than good behavior. The doctor who performs 19 perfect surgeries, will be publicized poorly if he messes up the twentieth. The good will from the 95% accuracy rate will get lost. A poor outcome is hard for anyone to swallow, but we need context.

A few members of a group who do poor things will get a great deal of social media attention. The entire group will be painted with a broad brush, which is unfair. This is why the group who should be most zealous in policing bad behavior is the group itself. The Catholic Church failed for many decades to adhere to this policy and all priests were tainted due to the actions of a few. The same goes for political groups – when leaders defame the office they hold, the group they belong to should be leading the way to fix it, not hiding such behavior.

Second, a social media analyst said in an interview that the Facebooks and Googles know that fake news is six times more likely to be read and routed than factual news. The sensational made-up stories sell more readily. Students of disinformation, like Vladimir Putin and other autocratic leaders and wanna-bes, know this already. It just needs a hint a believability to sell.

In fact, someone who studies the Russian troll factories noted that often, the trolls would take a sensational story that had some truth in it and then blow it up into a contrived piece and drop it into social media. Their goal is to get a conspiracy outlet like Infowars or QAnon to pick it up. Then, when an elected official picks it up and mentions it, the more serious pseudo-news people will cover it enough that the officials will say “people are talking about this.” When the real news outlets start reporting it, the trolls slap high fives for success. It is a sophisticated version of a circular rumor validating the original source.

So, what do we do? Read and watch multiple sources of information. Look at the sources. A piece from Fox News personnel may be slanted, but it is far more credible than something from one of their opinion hosts, which is not news at all (using Fox leaders’ own words under oath in court).The same could be said for MSNBC and other sources that have opinion hosts.

Then there are sources that should be avoided at all costs who are selling conspiracies. A judge told Infowars to pay restitution to the families of the twenty-seven Sandy Hook victims its host defamed, eg. And a North Carolina man served in prison for four years for believing Hillary Clinton was running a child pornography ring from a Washington pizza parlor and besieging it. She may be imperfect, but a child pornography ring?

So, consider those conspiracies sources as a can of ugly paint. And, leave that broad paint brush in the garage. When you paint in the corners and crevices, you need a very small brush. Use it finely and with better looking paint that will stand the test of time.

Negative news has a larger echo than positive news

We should remind ourselves that bad news has a larger echo than good news. This is why good news articles and social media posts are so needed. News agencies publish “conflict” as it sells better. The doctor who does things well 19 times out of 20 is not newsworthy, until he messes up that one time. The best offensive tackle is not newsworthy unless he is penalized or his opponent gets by him to the quarterback.

No question, division exists and civility is lacking to too many in discourse. But, what we don’t see and hear are the countless folks who are living their lives and getting along. Most people do not pay attention to the blathering untruths of people named Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, et al. We are too busy paying attention to our own lives.

If we do watch news, it is more often entertainment or sports news or something someone shared on social media that was more provocative than accurate. In fact, much of what finds may way into my browser could qualify as gossip – some one reacting to the inanity said by an opinion host who is just trying to sell ratings. My reaction before I pass on reading it is “Oh, (insert name) must have said something stupid again.” Next.

Some have prophesized this will cause our extinction. It does threaten our democracy, but will likely not cause our extinction. On that front, what we need to worry about is too many people chasing too few water and food resources. So, before we are pronounced extinct, please note it is not as bad as portrayed, but it still needs to be a lot better. Our real problems are hard enough without some opinion host masquerading as a news person making up inane things. My advice is to ignore blather and check other sources.

Just a thought

Where do you get your information? I ask this because our President seems to get his information from less than reliable sources and then criticizes more legitimate sources for disagreeing with him.

Here are a few questions to ask of your sources:

– if a source of information screams at his audience while his head is turning a very scary shade of red, he might not be a good source of information.
– if a source of information has such a raspy voice from shouting at the wind and name calls everyone who he deems appropriate, then he might not be a good source of information.
– if you get your information from Facebook or Twitter, you need to look carefully at sources cited and use the Twitter feed for headlines only to cause you to dig further on more legitimate sources.
– if you are getting your information from a source that must advertise they are fair and balanced to make up for their bias and inconsistent veracity, then you might want to consider another source for validation.
– if you are getting your information from the current President, stop because he is an unreliable source and has been most of his life.

I encourage you to check multiple sources. I am often asked where I get my information. Several places – PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, NPR, Reuters, and The Guardian. I read articles from my browser feed which come from The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, Time, etc. And, my local paper, The Charlotte Observee is a good source for local and state news.

A good sign a news source is reputable is they print errata or correct portions of stories that prove to be inaccurate. Admitting mistakes is a sign of intelligence.

I would also ask people who say inane things about their sources. Our President cites a couple of sources that are known for making things up or creating conspiracies. He even put one on the White House. And, he has actually appeared on one where the host is on record that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, as an example of his lack of veracity.

Before someone claims fake news, he needs to make sure the things he is saying are legitimate whether it is about his electoral college landslide, voter fraud or unemployment or crime rates.

If you believe this, you may want to check your source

In our new post-truth environment, where people have made election decisions off information they believed to be true, but was not, it is time to do a few litmus tests. If you believe the following, then you may want to check your sources of information.

  • If you believe the unemployment rate in the US is around 40% rather than beneath 5% per the Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS), you may want to check your source.
  • If you still believe President Obama is either born in Kenya, a Muslim and/ or the anti-Christ, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe we are the most taxed country in the world, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe Hillary Clinton had a Lesbian affair with Yoko Ono or has staffers running a child pornography ring out of a pizza parlor in DC, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe that climate change is still a hoax and that 97% of scientists and every major science organization on the planet are wrong, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe President Obama caused a hurricane to hit President-elect Trump’s development and home in South Florida, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe Trump did not use his Foundation’s money for his own benefit, then you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe Hillary and Bill Clinton had staffer and friend Vince Foster killed when he actually committed suicide, you may want to check your source.
  • If you believe Donald Trump did not sexually assault and/ or harass women and has not had multiple affairs, you may want to check your source. There is a reason he won’t bring suit against these women, as he is their best witness.

The sad part of the above examples is I could go on. News sources are not all created equal nor are some sources even news based. Too many sites offer fake news designed to confuse the public. And, they do so at a price as there is an industry around fake news creation.

Please verify unusual stories and sources of information. It is more than OK to tell a Facebook friend that his or her source is sketchy or you do not believe that to be true.

In the quiet of the morning

My favorite time of day is the quiet of morning. As an early riser, thanks to taking kids to school for so many years, I enjoy the peace of reading the newspaper with a cup of hot coffee.

I read a great deal online, but I still prefer the feel of a newspaper in my hands. Even if I may have read a story online the day before, rereading lets it sink in more for digestion and understanding.

While I am closer to being a news junkie than not, it is important to consider the news and the sources. Not all news is created equal, so the veracity of the source and data cited is relevant. This a key reason I read, watch and listen to multiple sources.

For those who would prefer not to read the news, I would guide you to NPR, PBS Newshour or BBC World News. Al Jazeera is also good, but I get few chances to watch it. I am visiting my sister and she watched PBS with me last night. The stories are well reported and analyzed by people who are more expert in their field. They are also civil to one another and cover stories that are more relevant and less influenced by bias or conflict of interest.

I am blessed to have access to an excellent daily newspaper in The Charlotte Observer. They continue to do in-depth reporting on topics for which they win numerous awards. They just completed a four-part series on our regional future water crisis and have exposed the problems of overworked and understaffed medical examiners in our state which has led to change, e.g. Plus, I appreciate reading the editorials from a variety of vantage points, even if I don’t agree with everything or much of what the writer says.

So, I am thankful for this time to read and reflect. I feel I am a better citizen and person in being informed. How do you stay informed? What are your favorite times of the day?