Skepticism Vs Cynicism Vs Joe Manchin

In theory, a journalist is supposed to bring a healthy dose of skepticism to everything they report. The questioning doubt nagging at them, the junkyard dog reluctance to trust anything until it proves itself worthy – that would be their skepticism at work if they had skepticism and if it was at work. Alas, in practice, the overwhelming majority of American journalists drive to work each day in a cynicism-mobile. They punch the clock having already delineated the game and all its players. They see everyone in terms of their labeling, but, ironically, they don’t actually differentiate between labels. A Republican spouting anti-democratic, authoritarian tripe is the same as a Democrat defending democracy. To the cynical journalist, both sides have their opinions. Both opinions carry equal weight, their opinions being based on equal things (even if those things are facts and feelings, two very unequal things). Cynicism tells a journalist that it doesn’t really matter what any politician says because “they’re just a politician” even if one is advocating for democracy and the other is advocating for democracy’s violent overthrow.

Cynicism lies at the broken heart of “Both Sides Do It” brand journalism. It takes an entirely corporate view of both its audience and the American public. The corporate view doesn’t really care about democracy, it cares about its bottom line. If some system other than democracy could guarantee it more profits? The corporate view would immediately think “Screw democracy! Profits ho!” That would be short-sighted of course but then, greed is always short sighted. Greed deals in headlines and never the deep dive because deep dives cost money and reduce profits – the only thing that matters to greed.

Cynicism assumes the worst of everyone. All motives are ulterior. All acts are political and self-serving. The commonweal is a myth or, worse, a collecting pool for suckers.

Democracy can’t live in such an environment where people who believe in democracy are considered suckers because they believe in democracy. Similarly, democracy can’t endure where one of the two parties charged with managing the democracy has decided to forcefully end that democracy. A cynical journalist looks at the GOP and thinks “Republicans behaving like authoritarians is normal; authoritarianism is their “opinion du jour”. They could just as easily change back to being “democratic” tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what their point is, it only matters that they have one; that fact alone validates their point.

A skeptical journalist on the other hand would look a little closer at those Republicans, curious about how they went from being democratic to being authoritarian. Skeptical journalists have one question that drives them eternally: WHY? Why do people REALLY do what they do or say what they say? Sure, sure – everyone has an explanation at the ready but those explanations aren’t always true. Take, say, a Republican restricting voting rights in the face of the most secure election in American history. The Republican will say with a straight face that they’re worried about “election security”. While a cynical journalist would nod along with this bullshit assertion – hey, that’s his opinion! – the skeptical journalist would bore in. “What do you mean you’re worried about election security? The last election WAS secure; the issue seems to be that YOU LOST THE ELECTION and THAT’S what all your actions clearly are meant to “fix”. When the Republican spewed their nonsensical answer, the skeptical journalist would refuse to accept it. And bore in even further, like a shark with the smell of blood in its nostrils.

Imagine for a second if our news media had refused to accept “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” as readily as they accepted “But her emails!” Imagine if our press had refused to move on from Trump announcing his presidential candidacy in such a racist way. But then, cynical journalists think racism is an opinion one can have or not have. That’s why they think you can ask a Donald Trump “are you a racist?” and then have faith that the answer – “I’m the least racist person you’ve ever met” – is true. See how that works? Our news media won’t violate their neutrality on the subject of “is Trump a racist” because HE (a racist) says he isn’t one.

A skeptical journalist would never ask a racist that question to begin with because they’d know before asking the question what the answer would be. Skeptical journalists understand that “who’s a racist?” is a question for the racist’s victims and no one else. Only a racist’s victim knows whether or not a racist is being racist. No one else has the proper perspective.

This is precisely why Joe Manchin presents a particular problem for American journalists.

Let’s add one more ingredient to the mix. Our news media reports the American political playing field as if it’s level. It’s not and never has been. It’s already tilted far to the right – not by the electorate but by the rule makers – most of whom have been white, Christian men up till now. Hey, the whole reason we’re facing this existential crisis is because those white, Christian men refuse to share political power with the rest of us. They even co-conspired with RUSSIA ffs in order to avoid sharing power with Black, brown, Asian, LGBTQ or female Americans.

Cynical journalism accepts corruption as a given. Skeptical journalism sees corruption as the problem that journalism itself is charged with revealing and eliminating. More importantly, skeptical journalism sees itself as a crusader against corruption. Whereas cynical journalists accept Joe Manchin’s corruption (his relationship with the coal business and Koch industries, his daughter’s relationship with the outrageous price of insulin in America), skeptical journalists would want to know more.

The cynical approach to telling the Joe Manchin story – the one we’re getting – has the press grilling Democrats about their Manchin (and Sinema) problems. Cynical journalists see that “D” next to Manchin’s name and that’s as far as their journalistic instincts go. Sure, Manchin’s a Democrat in a Trump-loving state, but Manchin has zero challengers. Go on – name a West Virginian who could run against Joe and win. Joe doesn’t exist in West Virginia the way normal Democrats do. And as much as Mitch McConnell would love to have Joe become a Republican, there is no reason for Joe to do such a thing. He’d go from being a powerful hold out to one of fifty-one intransigent assholes. He’d lose in the deal; he ain’t doing it.

Joe Manchin has power in this situation because he’s a Democrat. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand any of the realpolitik at play here. Joe Manchin has made himself the power broker of American democracy. If you want to understand why that is, you’d have to ask Joe Manchin – and not any of the Democrats. You’d have to ask Joe himself who he’s “representing” when he stands in the way of things his actual constituents want: pretty much the entire BBB. Clearly it ain’t anyone who lives in West Virginia, one of the poorest places in America. When the entire Republican Party makes RESTRICTING THE VOTE its goal – and the intention of that goal is so crystal clear: permanent white political hegemony – then a rational person – a skeptical journalist – would have to ask “Why on earth would Joe Manchin stand with these people over his own constituents?”

Let’s reframe this slightly – away from the cynical lens. This crisis is not Democrats v Republicans. It’s democrats v authoritarians. Any other framing is dishonest. It’s corrupt and we have to ask WHY? At a moment like this, indifference equals complicity with evil. As blissful as ignorance is, it too is evil. The lights are on now. We can all see what’s what on the table. We can see the Republican Party for the fascist death cult it allowed itself to become. FFS, these idiots are now drinking urine just make some idiotic political point in their heads. Feelings are what lead lemmings over the fact of a cliff.

But, there’s cause for hope! There are journalistic voices in the mix that see – have seen from the get-go. For all the rabidly mediocre, journalistically-corrupt-to-their-mitochondria Chuck Todds and John Kings there’s a Niccole Wallace and a Rachel Maddow and a JoyAnn Reid and a Mehdi Hasan and an Ali Velshi bringing SKEPTICISM to a CYNICAL landscape. They all had to play the rich, white man’s game to get where they got, but they know in their bones it isn’t supposed to BE a “rich, white man’s game”. It’s supposed to be everyone’s game.

As in E Pluribus Unum.

So long as the majority of American journalists practice cynical journalism instead of skeptical journalism, American journalism will fail America – exactly as they’re doing right now.

God Goes On A Job Interview: A Sketch

SETTING: A long, featureless, fluorescent lit hallway that seems to go on forever. Approaching footsteps and heavy breathing. Whoever’s approaching must be late — and worried about it. God steps into frame, a slip of paper clutched in his powerful (to hear him talk about it) hand. He peers at the number scribbled on it. It matches the room number above the doorway. This MUST be the place.

God straightens his tie. Gives his mighty (him again) head a shake as he clears his throat in a long roll of thunder. The timbre seems right. Reminding himself that he’s the one who created all this in six days damn it, he reaches for the door knob and steps into the next room like the monotheistic deity he is.

God comes up short on the other side of the door though. He wasn’t sure what to expect here. A respected bible scholar trying to make sense of unfathomable times or a world leader struggling with a terrible choice. Or a pope maybe. He definitely wasn’t expecting the attractive but business-like young woman seated across the very plain desk, a clutch of papers in her hands. From the look of the papers — the extensive wear on them, the young woman has gone over them relentlessly.

Like she was looking for answers on them. “Sheila,” she says, extending her hand toward God like he wasn’t the deity who created literally everything.

“Erm,” says God, uncomfortable but trying not to show it, desperate to do anything but shake her hand. The Young Woman has seen his discomfort. She withdraws her hand, never taking her eyes from his face. Finally his eyes meet hers.

“Sheila,” she repeats. “I’m Sheila.” She points to the folding chair on his side of the desk. Sits in the much more comfortable rolling desk chair on her side. The one with lower lumbar support.

God looks again to the folding chair, not quite sure how to fit his enormous, glowing magnificence into it. But, he’ll try. He reminds himself again, he’s the deity here. “Nice to meet you, Sheila,” he says, smooth as the Red Sea before it parted, “I’m God”. He sits, knowing it’s just a matter of time before he wins over Sheila–

“I know what job you’re here for,” she’s halfway through saying as God snaps to, “But god’s just your job description. It’s not actually your name.”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, over time, I’ve gotten used to it. We all have–“

Sheila’s looking at her smart phone. She’s found a source. “Says here your name’s Yahweh.” Sheila focuses on the fine print. “Yeah,” she says confidently, “Yahweh’s your name, not ‘God’.” She points her phone’s screen (with the “receipts” on it) toward God. “God’s” just your job description,” she says. “Is that true?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, I did create everything,” he says, a little less ironically than he’d hoped to. “And that,” he says, leaning forward, “Is why I think you’d be crazy to believe in anything else but me.”

Sheila stares back, hard to read. Finally — “You probably know that members of my family believe in you”.

God leans forward even further, seizing the opening. “Of course I do. They’re great people. That’s why I love them–” He knows immediately: too much.

“Do you think my family believing in you speaks well of you?”

God hesitates. He’s sure of it: that was a trick question. “Perhaps,” he says, hedging, “We could agree that being a deity is hard and sometimes you have to move in mysterious ways?”

“Uh huh,” says Sheila, unimpressed. “Did you tell my Tanta Louise that she got cancer because she fooled around so much when she was younger?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Erm,” he says (looking as uncomfortable as he feels), “Was I supposed to get some sort of notes about this?”

“You’re God, aren’t you?” says Sheila, making God feel much more like he was on a witness stand instead of a job interviewee’s chair.

“Is that a question?” asks God.

“Then you’re all-knowing, right?”

God knows exactly where this is going. He rolls his eyes. “There’s ‘all-knowing‘ and there’s “ALL-KNOWING“, know what I mean?” He hopes like hell the extra boom in his voice took a little of the wind from Sheila’s sails.

“So you don’t know my Tanta Louise or, at least, you don’t remember her, is that right?”

God studies his hands. They don’t feel very mighty right this second. His cuticles are looking rough. “What was that again your…”

“Tanta. Tanta Louise. She was my favorite aunt. She taught me how to live. But, smart as she is in some ways, she makes no sense in others. Like believing you gave her the cancer that nearly killed her.”

God squirms despite himself (flashes of lightning shoot this way and that). “Can we… talk about… you?”

She stares back, a little incredulous.

God presses on. “Things were different back when your beloved auntie was trying to figure things out. It’s true. People weren’t as broad-minded as they are now.”

“By ‘broad-minded’, you mean they don’t believe in you?”

God looks down. Stepped in it. “Now that door’s open,” he starts to tell himself–

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” says Sheila. God raises a hand to object. “Don’t,” says Sheila crisply. Down goes God’s hand. “Do you honestly think if no one mentions atheism that no one will think it?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that.” God looks down. Clears his throat — this time holding back on the rumble. “Know what special dispensation is, right?” He knows she does. She’s Catholic. “I’m taking it,” says God. “Different time and place.” He catches Sheila’s eyes. Holds them. “I, uh — I think I might remember this aunt of yours and, yeah — I might have said something along those lines — but there was context!”

Sheila and those damned eyes.

“She needed an explanation.”

Did you give her the cancer?”

“What? No!” Suddenly God’s all knowing: “The office building she worked in was on a super fund site. Honestly, it wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry I said anything–“

“You couldn’t tell her the truth?”

“Nobody knew it then — Google it!” God sits back a little. Feels the first hint of breathing room. “Google it”, he chuckles to himself, “Man, that was genius.”

Again with those damned eyes.

“Are you all knowing or aren’t you?”

God’s been in this minefield. Doesn’t make it any easier. “Depends”.

“When my Tanta Louise asked you why she got cancer, did you tell her it was because of the building she worked in? No. You told her a lie — even though you knew the truth.”

God sits back in his metal folding chair. He tries to. Finally, he fixes Sheila with a stare of his own. “You’re very good, know that?”

“I’ve thought about it, yeah,” says Sheila. “I’m thinking about it now. What should I believe? What seems most true to me?”

“And that is why — if you’re looking for Truth, you can’t not go the monotheism route — sticking a pin in your Tanta Whatever — not literally of course!” Her eyes say “continue”. “Go with me here,” he says, kicking into full salesman mode, “Take it from a deity — all those other deities? They’re not deities. The don’t think they’re better than you, for one thing!”

He turns up his palms. Slowly realizes his faux pas. “What I meant was polytheism’s small because all its gods are small. You don’t want to believe in a small god, do you?”

“Why should I believe in any god?”

“First cause,” says God, throwing down the words like it ended the argument.

“Bull-shit”, says Sheila. “Where’d YOU come from then? Who created you?”

“Nothing did, don’t you get it?” says God. “I’m the first cause. The alpha, the omega, the beginning, the end, the peanut butter and the jelly.”

“I’m allergic to peanuts”

“Figures,” God starts to say, catching himself immediately. “What I meant was I know you’re allergic to peanuts because I know everything.”

“What’s on the other side of a black hole?”

God hesitates. “What’s–“

“On the other side of a black hole. You know what a black hole is, right?”

Pride a little wounded: “Yes, I know what a black hole is, I invented them, right?”

“If you invented them then you know what’s on the other side of one, right?”

“Well…” God stammers, “Some of these inventions of mine — they’re works in progress, know what I mean?”

“They ‘evolve’, you mean?”

“Exactly,” says God, not catching himself in time, “They evolve.”

To God’s surprise, Sheila smiles. “I’ve come to a decision,” she says, standing. God, feeling like he’s being led here, stands as well. “I’m not hiring you,” says Sheila.

Not the first time this has happened (especially not recently). God lets it roll off his shoulders. “You don’t have to decide anything today,” he says — having answered this objection a few kajillion times before.

“I don’t have to decide anything ever,” says Sheila. She sits back. Studies God. Starts to laugh — not at God, not at anything in particular. Finally, the laugh peters out. “Even if, some day, I decide to look you up,” says Sheila, “It wouldn’t be you that I’d be looking up. It’d be someone better. Something better — a better God, know what I mean? But that’s only if I felt like I needed to believe in a God to begin with.”

“Can I tell you how sorry I am that I lied to your auntie?”

“If I was going to invent a god,” Sheila says, indicating the door behind God, “I’d hope like hell I could invent a better god than you.” Sheila extends a hand. “Good luck in the future.”

God looks at her hand. He knows that she knows he isn’t going to take it. And just like that, he knows: he made her point again.

“Thanks for coming in.”

America’s News Media Has Confused Being “Skeptical” (What They Should Be) With Being “Cynical” (What They Are)

Skepticism and cynicism are not the same thing. Don’t believe me — look em up. If I was being skeptical, I’d want to see proof of something before going along with it. If I was being cynical though? I wouldn’t care about any proof because I’ve already assumed the worst. A pox on everybody’s house — “both sides do it”. If I was cynical, I wouldn’t need proof that “both sides do it”. And if there was any sort of “proof”, it wouldn’t need to be equally distributed; most on one side and a little on the other is the same as fifty-fifty; it’s still a matter of “both sides do it”!

“Back that up or it’s bullshit!” would be a perfectly legitimate response to a politician saying something for which he has zero receipts. It’s appropriately skeptical. Are you telling the truth? Okay — prove it. By contrast, asking someone a “But, what if bullshit is true?” type questions — that’s not being skeptical at all. “What if bullshit were true?” is the quintessential cynical question.

The only place where bullshit can be true is in a completely cynical world. It can be true, it can be untrue, it doesn’t matter. The ending has already been decided. Everything sucks and there’ll be no changing it; we might as well all fold up our tents and go home. Seeing the world cynically means seeing the very worst in people no matter what. Even if they prove their worth, the cynical have an explanation ready to go. They’re not what they seem. Nothing is so don’t trust it. Assume the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

You might not be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either. And you’ll never see the truth or be able to discern it. There’s really no advantage to becoming cynical — unless you want to end your days living in a police state where survival is what matters. Cynicism assumes that the bad guy will get away with it in the end — that, on some level, everyone’s a bad guy, so what difference does it make who wins? Everyone’s motives are suspect. Everyone has a political agenda — even if they don’t think so.

That’s rubbish. It’s stupid too. And offensive.

When a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter, the Republican is doing it for an entirely political reason: to win an election so as to put the power of government into his hands and not the Democrat’s hands. When the voter whose vote is being suppressed raises their hand to complain about what the Republican is doing to them? They’re NOT being political. They’re the victim of a crime. One of their rights has been taken from them and that needs to be addressed. Not for political reasons but for reasons of justice and free and fair elections.

If the news media had taken a more skeptical approach to Donald Trump than the cynical approach they took, things might have turned out better for them. They would have demanded to know WHY Trump thought “Mexicans are rapists” before moving on to “pussy-grabbing”. And a skeptical press would never have been content to let that slide. A skeptical (rather than a cynical) press would have handled “But her emails” a lot better. Rather than cynically assuming the worst about Hillary Clinton, the press would have taken a more moderated, evidence-based approach. They would have concluded – as they did – that there was no “there” there.

If you want to see rock solid journalistic skepticism hard at work, watch Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline Whitehouse on MSNBC. Watch Rachel Maddow and JoyAnn Reid. Watch Ali Velshi and Chris Matthews. Watch Lawrence O’Donnell.

If you want to see empty-headed cynicism, watch Chuck Todd. Chuck is the “dean” of “both sides do it” journalism. He has zero intellectual curiosity. Zero perspective. Zero critical thinking skill.

We’ve survived Trumpism. A rejuvenated Department of Justice is going to make the next few years a rolling smorgasboord of corruption prosecution. There’ll always be a dozen or so pots on the boil with a few more waiting in the wings. From the second he stops being POTUS, Trump will have legal problems that no amount of bullshit pardons can assuage. He’s not running in 2024. The only running Trump will do between now and then is, maybe, a run for the border. I suggest slashing the tires on the Trump jet to prevent that from happening.

Cynicism Is To Skepticism What Republicans Are To Reasonable Human Beings

Cynicism is thinking the worst of everyone right off the bat. So, screw em! Skepticism is having questions — lots of questions — that need answering before you’ll make up your mind. Skepticism leads to critical thinking while cynicism leads to bias reinforcement. If you want to believe everyone’s a rat bastard then even the good things they do will have a “rat bastard” stank to them. If you want to believe the bad guys will always win in the end so why bother doing anything to stop them — then the bad guys WILL win in the end and your worst fears will be realized. Just like you wanted them to be.

The goal of a propagandist is to pull you past skepticism and critical thinking to cynicism where, down deep, you’ve already surrendered to them. You don’t have to be a propagandist though to give cynicism succor. You just have to give in to it.

While it’s completely true that Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in America’s history, it’s completely NOT true that he’s going to get away with it. That’s up to us. If we accept Trump’s corruption and roll over for him? Then, yes — Trump will get away with it. If we refuse to roll over? No, he won’t.

Not even remotely.

Trump’s corrupt on a scale few humans can match but he’s not monolithic. He’s an incompetent man-child, an inarticulate boob who’s failed at literally everything. The ONE thing he’s succeeded at: not getting caught. That onus is on us. We can change all this ourselves just by giving a shit and insisting that the rule of law — now that we’re bringing it back and enforcing it — applies to Trump the same way it applies to the rest of us.

Mitch McConnell is an adept politician but a rotten human. The inner rot is finally making its way to Mitch’s exterior. While he’s managed to keep ahead of the stink up till now, the stink just caught up with Mitch. Mitch has sooooooo much explaining to do. Under oath. With the TV lights turned up to eleven and the glare of the cameras turned up to twelve.

Mitch is the Poster Turtle for cynicism. The end justifies the Treason Turtle means. No one will ever accuse Mitch McConnell of overplaying his sincerity card. He’s our own Schmuck-iavelli.

We need our news media to be deeply skeptical. Alas, “Both Sides Do It” brand journalism has perverted their skepticism into cynicism. Everyone, BSDI insists, does things for the same reasons — usually political. Their motives? The same. They’re concerns — ditto.

Oy.

If Democrats behaved like Republicans, we’d BE Republicans. We don’t. We aren’t. Democrats, you see, are skeptical by nature but prone to cynicism because of the way we keep voting in the majority without experiencing the joy of winning that should have been part of the package. Getting cheated out of the thing you earned sucks if it happens once. With Democrats, this is starting to look like a habit.

Democrats have won the presidential popular vote in every election since Reagan. And yet — though he LOST the popular vote, George W. Bush became POTUS. So did Trump — after losing the popular vote. Trump wants to be the second person to ever LOSE the popular vote twice and still get to be POTUS.

That’s called cheating. And cheating to win is not “another way to win”, it’s cheating. If you cheat to win, you’ve done the opposite of winning: you’ve disqualified yourself from the competition entirely. Win? No, you didn’t win. You’re not even in the conversation.

There’s A Huge Difference Between Skepticism & Cynicism; Here’s Why That Matters

At the same moment a skeptic and a cynic cock their eyebrows in doubt, two very different things happen inside their heads.

The skeptic wants more evidence before passing judgment. The cynic has already made up his mind. In fact, his mind was made up at the start — and he already assumed the very worst. That means all the evidence that the skeptic finds important is meaningless to the cynic.

A skeptical voter wants to hear from both candidates. For them, the devil’s in the details — and so’s their vote. A cynical voter hasn’t read anything more than the headlines. Both sides do it so voting just contributes to the bad behavior. Cynical voters either don’t vote or vote against things, never “for”. It’s not like they have some vision they believe in. They’re empty and nihilistic. They couldn’t care less if the whole structure blew apart. It’s all the same to them.

In their defense, cynics aren’t necessarily responsible for their own cynicism. Plenty of cynical people became that way, acquiring their cynicism like a virus they picked up by going maskless at a Trump campaign rally. Their cynicism bled through their TV screens. A few may have picked it up through the newsprint they were reading. “Both sides do it” is as cynical as bullshit gets. It paints a picture with a brush so broad all one can see is the damned brush.

During Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial (hey, remember that — that Donald Trump was impeached and is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election AFTER BEING IMPEACHED?), our news media leaned heavily on comparisons between what was happening to Trump with what happened to Bill Clinton when he was impeached — for lying about a blow job. See the problem? Yeah, yeah, yeah — impeachment. Both stories have that in common.

But a blow job and acts that scream “TREASON” aren’t quite the same thing. That IS what Trump was impeached over — election fraud in league with a hostile foreign enemy. No blow job in the history of blow jobs could ever equal election fraud never mind treason. Yet, there was our news media essentially saying out loud that one impeachment was exactly equal to the other. They must be equal because “both sides do it”.

Excuse me for being skeptical.

When Republicans work to suppress Democratic voters (they never work to suppress their own of course — and Democrats NEVER work to suppress Republican voters because both sides don’t do that), they’re doing it for an entirely political reason: to get or hold onto power. There’s no policy basis for it. There’s no appealing to those voters as potential Republican voters. There’s the conclusion that those voters will vote against them and therefore they should not be allowed to vote. And if they DO vote, that vote should not be counted. When Democrats, by contrast, react to their votes and voters being suppressed, that is NOT them reacting politically. They’re reacting to their RIGHTS being violated — in other words, A CRIME.

But then our news media equates the vote suppressors (acting politically) with the vote “suppressees” (acting as the victims of a crime). It’s exactly like equating the victim of a mugging with the mugging. If you were there while the mugging was going on, it must be because you were “part of it”. “Both sides do it” understands — correctly — that both sides have a point of view. It misunderstands that a point of view isn’t necessarily legitimate. The bully and the bully’s victim have distinctly different points of view on their interaction. The bully cannot justify his — unless we see bullying and being its victim as equally justified and justifiable.

Remember back when America (and virtually nowhere else) debated the validity of climate science? America’s television news media would put a climate scientist (with facts and data at their fingertips) up against a climate denier (with nothing but their paid-for-by-polluters opinion). This, already, is not an equal fight. We’re pitting facts and reality up against bullshit.

These two people would share a screen split 50-50. In video vocabulary, a 50-50 screen says “these two points of view have equal value”. They could both be true — it’s up to the viewer to make up their mind. But that’s a false premise — because it’s not challenging the non-facts one side presents as legitimate argument. When the cameras roll, the climate scientist will have to spend valuable time trying to convince the TV audience that the bullshit they’re being forced to argue against is bullshit. Then, when the climate denier does the same thing — arguing that the facts are bullshit — the 50-50 of it all comes home to roost. A news show has given credence to nonsense.

A more accurate way to visually present the truth here would be to have the climate scientist filling 99% of the screen (relative to the value of the facts they brought to the studio) while the climate denier fills a few pixels up in the corner of the frame. The audio track would reflect the same balance. Result? We wouldn’t hear the climate denier’s voice — which is as it should be because they are lying and this is how we should think about the acceptable ratio of truth to lying in our discourse.

Cynicism is running rampant in America because, in large part, our news media is so cynical.

That doesn’t reflect reality and it doesn’t reflect who we really are as a nation. Not the majority of us. To be cynical is to think “Yeah, Mexicans ARE rapists”, women should be grabbed by their pussies, it’s okay if we canoodle with Putin and every other despot on earth, hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from the coronavirus is just “how it is”.

No, it isn’t.