So this rainy morning, I started watching “The Post,” then decided to stop and write this.
I’ll pick it up in a few minutes and brush Khaleesi while watching. It looks like something I can listen to and half watch while doing something productive.
When I was a teenager, I read two newspapers every day. I don't know about you, but I haven't known many teens who even read one paper! But don’t be too impressed; they were small town, local papers that my Gramps subscribed to. What got me started was a sensational story about the death of a local woman and the ensuing trial of her accused murderer.
The woman’s name happened to be the same as mine.
Her husband’s name happened to be the same as my boyfriend’s.
My boyfriend and I happened to be in the same class.
And it just so happened that this class was taught by this man before he was accused of killing his wife.
Yep, that's what I'm sayin'. The accused murderer was our history teacher. He used to tease us about being a couple with the same name as he and his newlywed wife. He talked about her all the time in class. It was clear he deeply loved her.
I was approached by his attorney and asked to be a character witness. At the age of 16, I had no idea what that would be like and I was too scared to agree. I felt bad about that for years.
That’s how my love of reading the newspaper began. In fact, fast forward, my only request for Mother’s Day every year was that I be allowed to read the Sunday paper front to back with no disruptions.
Back to the movie - the 10 minutes I watched got me to thinking again about the book I recently read, called “The Smear” by Sharyl Attkisson. The dirty tricks and smear campaigns she wrote about were not new to me. It’s something we’ve known of for decades; just maybe not with such contemporary details. Something she wrote stuck with me...
In the days of print, people easily recognized the difference between legitimate news and “fake news.” Junk news was found at the grocery checkout endcaps, like The National Enquirer or The Globe. The headlines were extreme, the artwork was dark and cheap, and the whole look of the paper was cheesy. It had creepy, Godzilla worthy photographs. People bought these rags because they were sensational and entertaining. You knew the information inside was like junk food – full of non-nutritional calories but fun to consume.
In the online world we now inhabit, The Enquirer and its ilk have been replaced by numerous websites that look and read like authentic news pages. BUT THEY’RE NOT. They’re the Enquirer, or the Globe, or some other rag dressed up to look respectable. BUT THEY’RE NOT. You know the old saying: “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
As news consumers, we have a harder job and a bigger responsibility now to know the difference.
Half-truth reporting, what used to be called “lying” is now a billion dollar Industry. Yes. Billion. Yes. Industry. There are real, legitimate corporations and non-profits whose sole purpose is to destroy others for the highest bidder. They’re invested in or backed by some of the world’s most nefarious billionaires. People make entire careers out of digging for dirt and selling it. It’s not just about politics; both the predators and victims include corporations, lobbyists, and the entertainment industry.
Where do you think the bulk of this information is deployed? Exactly!
There are extreme liberals AND extreme conservatives who want to take control of the information you can access. They don’t think you can discern the truth from a lie. They want to do it for you. For your protection. For the good of the people. Do you buy that?
If we really believe in the First Amendment, if we really want to protect our First Amendment rights, we are going to have to grow up and take responsibility for what we share online.
You have got to start paying attention and educating yourself. All the buzz and energy right now is being directed towards protecting the Second Amendment and yes, that’s important too. Has it occurred to you that it might also be a misdirect? Something to take your attention away from what they’re trying to do with the First A?
Every word of the Constitution is precious. All I’m saying is be well informed, know the source of your information, and be responsible with your knowledge. We’re still going to disagree on many social issues but that’s ok. It’s what keeps us balanced!
EPILOGUE: The history teacher. According to testimony, they had a fight and he grabbed her roughly to try to kiss her. She supposedly died of strangulation but three experts could not conclude that. I’m not sure but I think he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and may have served some time. I ran into him in another city, a couple years after graduation. He looked sad, but was professionally dressed and on his way somewhere. We exchanged pleasantries. I asked how he was. He asked about me and boyfriend. I was glad to have had that moment of closure.