Medicine for the News

Do you consider the news depressing? Does the constant, 24-hour cycle of never-ending, mostly negative—at the very least, concerning—breaking news encourage you to tune in as little as possible? It’d be hard to blame you. The barrage of crises really does not cease, and, from a programming perspective, the endless roundtable discussions from analysts, political commentators, and experts must amount to something positive for the network, otherwise one would not think that CNN would continue talking to the latest group of guests about the latest controversy. One would hope not, anyway.

It’d be hard to blame you for choosing not to follow the latest headlines. But I’m going to blame you. From my experience, people who abandon the news do so because they’ve had enough of it, of the constant pessimism and its doom-and-gloom coverage. I get it, but I don’t excuse not staying up to date on what’s going on, and my reason is the following: It’s not so bad. By that I mean, yes, it is bad—it’s frighteningly bad—but it’s also hilariously absurd, so absurd in fact, as to simply be hilarious. A change of perspective is what I prescribe, from taking everything as serious, solemn, stern information, to a chronicling of the latest fuck-ups from those in power; from those who have enough power to affect your everyday life. I’m of the opinion that one should keep an eye on people like that.

You can practice by watching the administration of the United States’ 45th president, President Donald J. Trump. Not one of our most eloquent speakers, or our most motivating. His calls for unity are upended by none other than himself, through daily Tweets that remind the nation who they should be angry at today, or this hour. Rather than bowing your head in shame, keep it held as you watch how this oh-so-powerful man is also our most visible, most powerful fool—then proceed to chuckle, almost uncontrollably.

You can go back and watch a re-cap of Michael Cohen’s testimony if you wanted additional lessons. There you’ll see a remorseful, voluntary witness give his testimony against the character of a man for whom he had worked for, for more than ten years.

“I sat with him once,” a Republican senator would begin. “And he struck me as a pleasant man. I fail to believe a single word you say about him.”

“You’ve been convicted of lying to Congress,” another Republican senator would say. “How are we supposed to get the truth out of someone who lies?”

Once a liar, always a liar? Even if telling the truth might reduce his jail sentence? I don’t know, but to me it sounds like, if telling the truth would reduce your jail sentence, that’s a mighty nice incentive to, maybe, be truthful.

There’s plenty of material here and there that’ll give you a good laugh. Our Vice President received quite the muted response when he met with European allies, “On behalf of President Trump.” -crickets- But he soldiered on. The way Sarah Sanders twists every question to fit her answer, rather than the other way around, is nothing less than masterful and deliciously wicked. John Bolton’s calls to topple Maduro and bomb Iran should make us all scratch our heads in wonder over what he could possibly be thinking. Ivanka Trump’s response that guaranteed minimums are anathema to the American character are enough to leave one slack-jawed, dumbfounded, and wheezing with laughter. It just doesn’t end!

On the liberal side, Ralph Northam’s wife handing cotton to black children while on a mansion tour! Jussie Smollett’s unraveling story, when his white, MAGA-wearing attackers turned out to be Nigerian brothers paid by Smollett. How about Dianne Feinstein being confronted by Green New Deal activists asking her to support the Green New Deal. Her response? “No, and I have a better deal because I know better,” or something to that effect. There was also former president Barack Obama telling a room full of young black people that young black men shouldn’t act so ghetto. As I said, these are all shocking stories, each one of which is enough to make one turn off the TV, close the news app, and call it a day. But when you come to regard the news as more consequential entertainment, suddenly everything you see and hear becomes palatable, manageable, and even enjoyable.

When you don’t regard all of the news as end-world scenarios, you can focus on the stories that are truly concerning. For me, those stories are of the migrant children forcibly separated from their parents. Not just separated, but then gone missing while in custody. Or the children who were forcibly given drugs to sedate them. Or the over 5,000 complaints of sexual abuse against US authorities—from children. Now that’s fucked up, and no, I’m not laughing.

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