I know you are, but what am I?
Liar. Thief. Crooked.
Bully. Pig. Criminal.
Name calling in politics is nothing new, but with less than a week until election day, America is engaged in a presidential battle like never before, taking us back to the darkest days of our childhood, when taunts, shoving, stuck-out tongues and sing-song comebacks were the fiercest weapons we knew how to launch. But when the ballots are cast and the election is won by either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, will all that hair pulling and huffiness end?
Because after multiple October Surprises (Rolling Stone counted 23, Fox News reported eight), we can only dream of a world where the controversies, lawsuits, investigations and theatrics surrounding these two individuals are behind us. And we'll be stuck with one of them as Commander-in-Chief.
And don't forget those who are bemoaning (or maybe "pre-moaning"?) our fate as a nation should Trump manage to pull out a win, threatening to take their toys and leave America for good. Canada may have to tighten their own immigration policies in response. (And if that ain't ironic, I don't know what is.)
Here's a hilarious commercial to demonstrate the hysterics:
I am SO done with it all. Sad thing is, it's just not done with me.
But in all seriousness, we're adults, aren't we? With at least a slight grasp on reality? So how do we endure the outcome of this election? How do we get past the shoving and kicking? More specific to our discussion about media bias, how do we rise above the playground politics to interpret the interpretation of all of this in the news media?
1. Take a Time-Out!
I know that no matter who wins, half of you think it's the end of the world as we know it but it's not (even if one of our candidates is kinda mentioned in the song). So just put away your passport, count to ten, put on your big girl (boy) pants and deal with it. People have probably been freaking out about this kind of stuff since Seti took over for Ramses in ancient Egypt (and Egypt is STILL THERE, folks. Just sayin'.)
As for the media, ABC, CBS and NBC will still hate Trump and defend Hillary. Bill O'Reilly will still be unimpressed with either of them and your Facebook news feed will still be filled with SHOCKING click-bait political posts that you need to resist the impulse to read. (Seriously. If the word "shocking" is in the title, just don't. Trust me.)
And, here's some advice that I need to repeat to myself in the mirror: You can turn it off for awhile. You don't have to be the ever-vigilant police of what is wrong in American media or politics every. single. day of your life. Read a novel. Cook something new. Make a hat, Take a hike.
2. Play Nice
One thing I hear media analysts say over and over this election cycle is that it has been unpredictable.
Yeah, we noticed. In the first place, we've never had someone with zero political experience running against someone who is under investigation by the FBI. We've never had candidates with so much baggage and so much disapproval running neck and neck and we've never been so convinced that we are doomed (DOOMED!) either way.
Before this election I assumed the mainstream media would at least make a pretense toward unbiased reporting while surreptitiously using the schemes, techniques and tactics that we've discussed over the last several months, just like they have in previous years. They loved Trump during the primaries, after all. But as we also discussed, the media seems emboldened now that we are down to red versus blue. Even while Americans grow increasingly dissatisfied with career politicians, cronyism, lobbyists, PACs, rhetoric and corruption in Washington, the idea of a NON-political outsider taking the reigns is TOO scary for the media to consider. So scary, in fact, that some have described it as their moral duty to throw out the journalistic playbook and do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to defeat Donald Trump.
So, yeah, don't assume that the media is going to lighten up their left-leaning tendencies.
Donald Trump has been crying media bias for weeks now and though I don't like him, I have to agree he's right about this. And the public agrees too. In a September NBC/WSJ poll, the media's disapproval rating was 59 percent, which is virtually the same degree to which the public disapproves of Donald Trump, which, according to another NBC/WSJ poll, is 61 percent. Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly discussed this issue at length. Click this link to watch the segment. One source his guest mentioned is one of my favorite sources for media statistics, the Media Research Center, which conducted a recent survey, showing how uneven media coverage of the two candidates has been in the twelve weeks leading up to the election. They found that 91 percent of Trump's coverage has been "hostile." Meanwhile 79 percent of their coverage of Clinton was also negative -- not exactly the kind of glowing, messianic endorsement we saw during Obama's campaign(s), but the broadcasts in question contained at least three times as many opinionated comments about Trump. (They may not be enthusiastic about Hillary, but they are at least trying to muzzle it in keeping with the bigger political picture.)
So when you chat by the water cooler or join a discussion on Facebook, play nice. Remember to consider other people's feelings. Don't unfriend people for being too liberal or too conservative. Try and remember that disagreement in politics is older than America itself. Just because the media is unfair doesn't mean you have to be unfair too.
3. I'm Rubber, You're Glue
Confession: I like to skulk around Facebook and read political threads on my friends' pages. It's enlightening, and I'll tell you why: Because my friends on the left say the EXACT SAME THINGS as my friends on the right (except with lots of bad language sprinkled liberally -- pun intended -- throughout their conversations.) Here are some of the conclusions I've drawn from my stalking, er, investigations:
First, people always think the guys on the other side are stupid. At the same time, they don't understand why the guys on the other side call THEM stupid. "I don't do that to them!" I've read.
Well, yeah. You didn't say "you're stupid." Instead you said only uneducated people get their information from "Faux News." In other words, you called them stupid.
Guess what? Liberals and conservatives can figure out when you're being condescending, (no matter how "stupid" they are). They'll notice it, whether you're literal or passive aggressive with them. So knock it off.
Second, people always think the FACTS are on their side. We've already discussed how facts can be manipulated. How statistics are unreliable and how people have a tendency to gather data that corroborates their own views while dismissing the opposing ones. Now maybe you, like me, have done quite a bit of analysis to make sure your facts are from reputable sources. Maybe you've checked the facts of those on the other side and analyzed them fairly and still rejected them. I get that -- it's part of the legitimate process of coming to an informed opinion and it's the best way to discuss issues without anger and name calling. But just remember, it's not likely to work. Rarely do people change their minds, just because they've been presented with the facts.
Liberalism and Conservative-ism are complex philosophies and everyone who leans left or right has favorite bits of ideology that create the concrete, rebar-enforced framework for their beliefs. So let's say you have a reasonable discussion with a conservative, outlining all the ways in which Donald Trump has been less than truthful or less than honest while also calling Hillary Clinton a crooked liar. You might be very convincing. You might be right. But if the conservative you are talking to is like me and adamantly, 100 percent against abortion, it doesn't matter. She's not going to vote for a woman who believes abortion should be legal up to a woman's due date, no matter how convincing you are about Trump's hypocrisy.
Likewise, if you have a reasonable conversation with a liberal, outlining how Keynesian economics don't work or how higher taxes on the rich do not result in more money in the U.S. Treasury, you might make them doubt their beliefs about making the top one percent "pay their fair share." But if they are deeply rooted in environmental causes and believe that strict regulations on coal and vehicle emissions are the best way to save the planet, they are not going to be swayed.
Research your opinions. Question your sources. Stay informed. Try not to let emotion overcome your reason on any of these issues, but -- for the sake of your sanity and your friendships -- walk away from the teeter totter with a smile on your face. It's okay to disagree. It's okay to agree to disagree. (It's even okay for you to just let them be "wrong.")
4. No Tantrums Allowed
If you're candidate doesn't win, try not to implode. I know it's important stuff. I know the stakes are high. But if you're like me and have faith in a Higher Authority, you know that the matters of this world are not of the utmost importance. If you're not like me and don't believe in a Higher Authority, ask me about it. I would be happy to share what I know and believe.