Let's break out of our own political bubbles

While looking around for other blogs I ought to be following, I ran across one that I found both gripping and moving, written by a young Cuban woman, still living in the island, who offers grim vignettes of the day-to-day struggles of life in that country. A link to her blog, “Generation Y,” appears on the lower right-hand side of this page.

Her brief anecdotes cumulatively become almost asphyxiating. They depict an airtight society in which, even after some recent loosening of the valves, the flow of information and personal expression remains controlled by a repressive government apparatus.

We don’t have such restrictions in the U.S., you say. Through the seemingly unlimited information offered by print and electronic media we can access any information we want, even if sometimes it’s skewed or just plain wacko.

Arf, arf: Go get ’em, Chris

A far thornier problem comes up, though, in the instinctive way in which we censor ourselves: We tune in to MSNBC or Fox News, or log on to a right- or left-wing e-zine, depending on what we want to hear. People who study such things call the phenomenon “self-confirmation loops,” or being trapped in information “bubbles.”

Several days ago, the Democratic National Committee announced it would bar Fox News, the archnemesis of every breathing American liberal, from hosting any candidate debates during this and next year’s electoral cycle.

That’s a knee-jerk and self-defeating decision that doesn’t help either democratic discourse or the Democratic Party’s political prospects.

The reason cited was a long and persuasive article in the New Yorker magazine about how Fox News had in effect become an official government mouthpiece, going beyond its usual tendentiousness to trumpeting any craziness that emanates from the White House—and often even scripting it. It’s an eye-opening piece of journalism that I recommend to all readers, of any political stripe.

President Trump promptly tweeted some sort of retaliation against the the fake news media. And blah, blah, and on and on.

So we end up with both Trump and the Democrats in effect stifling the flow of information, the political debate and the chance for both conservatives and liberals to consider what the other side is proposing—and for some voters to shake themselves out of their own political bubbles.

Surely, Fox News evening broadcasts are 90 percent Trumpian newspeak. But I’ve also reached such a political saturation point that I can no longer stomach the nightly sermonettes by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Larry O’Donnell, even if they both handle facts and the truth far more scrupulously than Fox’s Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

Look us in the eye, Stephen

I’ve also seen Chris Wallace, who inherited his pitbull genes from this dad Mike, do a pretty credible skewering of White House officials like Stephen Miller, the beady-eyed Torquemada behind Trump’s immigration policies. There are a few others like Wallace at Fox News. I think it would interesting to see them pounce on the Democratic candidates with some tough questions.

Instead, by shutting out Fox News, the Democrats have forfeited the chance to present their views to persuadable Republican voters who might be ready to break out of their own bubbles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s