By ROBERT AVILA
Special to the NEWS
I’m a lefty liberal arts major rightly conservative in my concern about the cool illusion of collusion between the media we consume and our confusion of what is right and what will be left of us when the word “fake news” is abused until we lose any sense of what is news or partisan views.
When our media does not separate their news from opinion, and I can’t hear the name “Hilary” without thinking “Clinton,” and the politics of selfish money and power instructs me to support them with the same words-and-phrases every single-hour, with a partisanship so extreme and far removed from me, that says to accept their opinion as part of my patriotic identity, it feels as if every time I try to breathe they will not leave until I concede to what they say they need, which is for me to believe that anything not said by them is “fake news.”
I am a modern American; exhausted by news and partisan views and the contrary polls from each pole of this polarized ruse, that as an American I am as extreme politically as you present-me-to-be in your hyper partisan opinion view on cable “news” you claim is reality.
I didn’t ask to be on this ship of cable news controlled by partisanship — but instead of jumping overboard from the same old words-and-phrases that make me over-bored, I watch, not because I am concerned with the state of the world my community views cable news to understand, but because I am concerned with the state of my community after cable news presents them with their view of the world.
Millennial is an identity I didn’t choose to enable, but anytime I criticize the careless use of the word “fake news” I am labelled by the most viewed “news” channel on cable, that tells my parents they are unable, to have any views besides their channel’s at the family dinner table.
Millennial, Trump-supporter, independent, democrat and liberal, boomer, Gen Z and X and every label in-between, I see no difference between you and me until I watch T.V. and apparently — on the opinion views of cable news — I’m at war with culture and values and Christmas, and every hour of your show is something I-can’t-miss, and in the endless cycle of raising ratings through emotional manipulation, how much money will ever be enough for you to acknowledge what 24-hour cable news has done to this nation.
When, at the dinner table, can we have that conversation?
When I want to discuss the news with friends and family, they don’t understand that news is not repeating the opinion of Sean Hannity, and if you want to know the real power of repeated words-and-phrases, just stop and ask yourself why grown men now have the word “snowflake” in their language.
They say they are worried about “fake news” — they don’t understand that the partisan cable news that claims to supports their views, benefits from the fact that they are confused, and when the cable news you view sensationalizes the same words-and-phrases, and embellishes their opinion commentators with raises, who cycle you with anger, outrage and fear in phases, you’re too exhausted to question what “fake news” they say is. Experts call this tribalism a cycle of comfort reaffirming our own beliefs, but I’d just call it a cycle of emotional griefs, in which we are outraged into exhaustion and keep watching because the words-and-phrases we know seem like the only understandable option.
I am a modern American; fake news has always just been part of the narrative. What is new is the sheer amount of information, to which there is no Walter Cronkite we all trust for news when the day ends. But, words-and-phrases have always had power, and even in this day and age — I promise you — good journalism still distinguishes itself from tabloid news, conspiracy radio and satire.
As a long-time journalist and columnist, fake news does not concern me as much as the truth at the bottom of this, which is that politicians, opinion commentators and those with wealth near insurmountable, carelessly call everything “fake news” that could hold them accountable.
Editor’s Note: Robert Avila, J.D., is an opinion and humor columnist from San Antonio, Texas, who writes biweekly for the Port Isabel-South Padre Press and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. You can find further background and sources to columns at his website https://robavilascolumns.wordpress.com.