Friday, March 17, 2017

Choosing second best

Putting aside the fact that Fox News is not a reliable source of information for anyone, there is something really bizarre about the President of the United States relying on a cable news channel to get his information.

The reason why cable news channels exist is because the vast majority of the population is out of the loop. We often don't have any inside information about what is going on in other countries or in the halls of power at home. So we depend upon reporters to go out in the world and report back to us about what they find. They can ask politicians questions for us, and dig around public records or leaked non-public records so they can report back to us via their cable news channel, or the print media, or the internet or whatever. The news media serves an important function because it helps keep the general populace almost as well informed as the people who are in power. The media is critical for democracy because it keeps the electorate informed, maybe not as informed as the people who are actually in charge, but it at least has the potential to keep the general public the most informed they can reasonably without being on the inside.

Donald Trump is inside the halls of power right now. He can pick up the phone and call anyone in the government and they will all take his calls. He has at his fingertips the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus, the expertise of diplomats sitting in the capitals of every other country on earth, or pretty much any expert on anything that he decides to contact. He can read all the secret reports that the best cable news reporters can only get third or fourth-hand rumors about.

President Trump has access to much better sources of information than the news media. And yet, he keeps skipping intelligence briefings so he can watch cable news. The whole thing is completely absurd.