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By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Our politics – and our elections – are running amok

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2022
What is happening to the people in our country? Why are the partisan fights and arguments escalating? Why is the far right so fiercely fighting their self-defined “enemies,” be they Democrats or progressives or certain Congressional members?

Why are both parties experiencing divisions, violence and the destruction of our democracy?

We are encountering a very mean streak in election campaigning – angry attacks at opponents, mud-slinging, vicious threats to candidates and their family (Paul Pelosi, Eric Swalwell, etc.) that, somehow, we are tolerating. We can’t These attacks are ugly and are destroying our t rue election process. I don’t’ know what to do about that except …. Cry! What is happening?

I am scared for our country; I am worried about the lives of our elected officials and their families. I am sad for all of us.

Voters are encountering uniformed men at the polls, some carrying guns, cameras clicking on all who are voting; mail-in ballots are forbidden in some states, polling places have limited hours; states that want one party control of all elections is growing, election rights are being reduced. Absolutely frightening.

Why are many Americans seemingly indifferent and unalarmed about a Q-Anon member bashing the head of Paul Pelosi with a hammer, causing a skull fracture? Why are some Republican candidates using that very life-threatening fracture as a way to get a laugh from followers at their rallies? (Yes, it is happening.) Why is the man who attacked Pelosi’s husband saying he wanted to crack her knee joints to show the House that her haters mean business?

It seems so much easier now for the politicians from the far left and right to create "enemies" and promote fear than it is to exercise courage and stand up and declare this is all wrong!

What can we do about it?

Stand up and talk and talk about it – at downtown plazas or at -public forums; at neighborhood meetings and socials, or in letters to the editor in daily newspapers; or front-yard placards or car bumper stickers. Have rallies. Get the papers to report your concerns. Start a movement, as Americans have done so aptly in the past. Think about the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or “Me Too.” Or the prominence now of sexual harassment against women.

All of us who care must stand up and pronounce“Stop all this!" Look at how we are all destroying our country. We do that either by husband hammering or falsely accusing candidates of things they never said. But we also do it by our apathy or by being so silent, because your silence tells opponents that you really don’t care. Your silence is not going to help this country.

Other election changes

And now, for my other, albeit more minor, concerns:

The first: Before every election I get a ballot filled with numerous state propositions, On TV daily, I hear a barrage of political ads identify only by the proposition numbers. “Vote for Prop, 86, vote against Prop 87, but vote for Prop 30 and don’t forget, it’s yes on Prop 1.

Locally, it’s the same: “Vote for Measure L and against Measure K; don't vote for either. Vote yes for both. Don’t vote for Measure V (which, BTW, is a Menlo Park measure, but who would know from the ads)?

Vote for Jansen for sheriff. Vote for Jensen for sheriff (yes, both are running --but against each other). Vote for Ronald Arnold. Cast your ballot for Joe Smith and, of course, also for Tom Jones. (I made up those last three names just to confuse you).

I have read about the measures and their attached numbers, and understood which was which – until I forgot them a week later. Now what was Prop 29 all about? Should I vote against Prop 21? And why then vote for26 but no 27, since both have something to do with Indian casinos? And why should I vote for Prop 30? One mailer I received today said Vote No on Prop 31 –it’s about “government overreach.” Couldn’t that phrase apply to a lot of propositions?

This is an example of what is happening in this year’s election, but these consecutive proposition measure numbers and the alphabet soup of letters certainly don’t help in making a decision, since I can’t always remember which is what – or what is which.

Why don’t the sponsors tell us in their plethora of ads just what these numbers stand for? For example, tell me Prop 28 means more art and music programs in schools, or Prop 1 is about abortion rights for women in this state– you get the idea.

Second, I listen to local candidate debates. Most of the questions from moderators are softballs, e.g., What is you stand on housing? “I support it.” Good, let’s go on to another issue. What about gun control? “I’m for it.” Etc. They are not debates.

Where are the probing questions for these candidates, the “Whys,” the “How can this city afford this”? What can we cut? What are we spending too much of our tax dollars on?

In general, I see few voters’ forum moderators probe. The “questions" have been asked before, and result in merely well-rehearsed candidate PR statements as answers. Easy to do, since most debate moderators ask the same questions. We have to improve the quality of debates.

And finally, we are living through very troubled times. But if we don’t have fair elections, we don’t really have democracy in America anymore. I am not the first to say this. Yet people I talk to about it seem indifferent – or nonchalant -- about losing democracy. If we lose it, then what hat comes ini its place? Autocracy? And, if we do lose democracy, that would be a critical crucial crisis It can happen here – and I think are on the path to do so. Unfortunately!



Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by Ahmet Massoud, a resident of another community,
on Nov 1, 2022 at 5:06 pm

Ahmet Massoud is a registered user.

In response to your queries and speaking as an immigrant to America who once had great expectations in this new land...

"What is happening to the people in our country?"

^ The American population is harshly divided over countless issues including the economy, inflation, immigration, racial inequities, LGBTQ acceptances, and an overly progressive left-wing movement which is viewed by many conservatives as a threat to a traditional white America.

"Why are both parties experiencing divisions, violence and the destruction of our democracy?"

^ Because both parties are being deluged by extremists and there is no more middle ground.

"Why are many Americans seemingly indifferent and unalarmed about a Q-Anon member bashing the head of Paul Pelosi with a hammer, causing a skull fracture?"

^ Because most intelligent Americans do not take QAnon advocates seriously + there are many voters (both conservative and progressives) who detest Nancy Pelosi and her overall persona.

"What can we do about it?"

^ Nothing until this tide of madness eventually recedes. All things must pass...good or bad.

"Why don't the sponsors tell us in their plethora of ads just what these numbers stand for? "

^ Because their true intentions are OSTENSIBLE. When playing poker, do you tip your hand?

"Where are the probing questions for these candidates, the “Why," the “How can this city afford this"? What can we cut? What are we spending too much of our tax dollars on?"

^ This is a job for the journalists as most voters are either too busy or too lazy to explore matters any further. That is why paid TV adds are so popular.

Any more questions?


Posted by Justine Withrow, a resident of Stanford,
on Nov 1, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Justine Withrow is a registered user.

Ahmet...you forgot to add abortion rights as another divisive issue.


Posted by CalAveLocal, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 1, 2022 at 5:36 pm

CalAveLocal is a registered user.

It's not "both parties". This is simply a false equivalence. And by claiming it is the same you are normalizing the radicalized right wing nuts.

The country is simmering. I am personally horrified for what is going to happen next week; because there are too many crazies believing that the only way elections can go is their way.

Web Link


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2022 at 6:15 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Why is it that we have a "far right" and a "far left" and seemingly nobody inbetween?

Why is it that don't have people who admit that sometimes they vote one way and in the next election vote the other way, and that is perfectly acceptable?

Why is it that anyone who doesn't agree with you is automatically called far right or far left? And additionally then called names which are as hateful as the supposed grievances. Why is it ok to call someone you disagree with a hateful name?

And when it comes to the attack on Paul Pelosi, why are legitimate discrepancies and questions being hidden? Why isn't it ok to ask why they were both in their underwear, who opened the door to SFPD, why the glass door was broken from the inside? Why are the media not reporting these things? Is there some type of coverup coming from the top?

Why can't people actually think for themselves, ask legitimate questions, make reasonable opinions, without being hushed up or even worse? Why are we being treated like sheep rather than intelligent adults with inquiring minds? Intelligent inquiry used to be a quality worth having. Now it appears that as soon as intelligent questions are asked, it is called conspiracy theories. Nice way to stop discussion and debate.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Nov 1, 2022 at 6:24 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

It IS "both parties." The far-left and the far-right are equally pathetic. They're both a threat to democracy. The political division in our country is worse than it's ever been, and probably the main reason so many people don't vote.

What can be done? Since so many extremists are mentally ill, pray they take their meds.


Posted by Wei Jiang, a resident of Los Altos,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 9:19 am

Wei Jiang is a registered user.

"The race card is America's wild card."

This is why we encourage our two daughters to get good grades, attend a prestigeous university, and to marry a successful and well-educated white man. For them, having children of bi-racial heritage will make things easier in terms of societal acceptance.

For my son, it will not be as easy because fewer white women marry Chinese men than white men marrying Chinese women.


Posted by Terelle Jackson, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 10:07 am

Terelle Jackson is a registered user.

Imagine what might have transpired if 900 angry, disenfranchised, and allegedly armed African Americans had stormed the Capitol on January 6th.

Chances are the outcome would have been different.

There are two sets of rules in America...one for white people and another for minority peoples.


Posted by Division's in the Mirror, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Division's in the Mirror is a registered user.

Diana, as a journalist, you provided your own answer. You have also explained why the 2016 election went the way it did and was a surprize.
"Why is the far right so fiercely fighting their self-defined “enemies,"",
"(Paul Pelosi, Eric Swalwell," "Why are many Americans seemingly indifferent and unalarmed about a Q-Anon "
All of your concerns are clearly in favor of the one-party system we have in California and in DC, which is also why "debates" are worthless and why the questions asked are such "softballs".
Local candidates must all bow to the one party and give the answers that one party wants to hear, or those candidates cannot get endorsements or money from the big power groups or the newspapers.
When 99% of the major news media has given up on even pretending to be neutral or fair, or honestly providing both sides of any issue, then the news media has forfeited the trust of anyone not in lock-step with that source.
As things stand, we have the huge bulk of all news media clustered around the extreme Leftists and one news network over with the Right-wing and nothing in-between.
Most people only listen to the news that already is totally biased in the same direction their party leaders tell them to believe in.
All of the Leftist news media is reporting the same issues with identical wording from one network to the other and so on.
The major pollsters use highly Liberal-slanted wording in their questions and the Conservatives are refusing to respond to polls, like we saw in 2016.
We say "Black Lives Matter", which nobody really objects to, but if we say "Blue Lives Matter" or "All Lives Matter", we are being evil.
An entire party showed the attitude "Rules for thee, but not for me!" in the Pandemic.
Biden claimed he will heal the divide, but he does everything he can to deepen the divide.
FYI, Q-anon was begun as a satire, a joke, like web-site "The Onion", trying to troll the Liberals in the news media, the joke worked so perfectly, it went viral.


Posted by Charles Bount, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 2:45 pm

Charles Bount is a registered user.

Walt Kelly perhaps said it best decades ago in his classic cartoon strip Pogo..."We have met the enemy and it is us."


Posted by Ruben Montoya, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Ruben Montoya is a registered user.

Part of the problem is that both parties lack quality leadership at the top and midterm candidates who are capable of getting the nation back on track.

Since California is already a designated blue state, my Democrat liberal-leaning vote will not account for much as countless other CA voters will be voting for Democratic candidates anyway. As a result, the outcome is oftentimes a foregone conclusion.

Votes are more important in swing states where the races are closer and the candidates more interesting.

That said, I always vote for CA Governor, U.S. Presidents, U.S. Senators, and House of Representative candidates.

The other more elective offices (e.g. city council members, county supervisors, state assembly persons and state senators) are trivial and immaterial in my book and not worth wasting the time on.

Voting decisions on State Propositions are far more important depending on the topic though some are worth ignoring as well.


Posted by Ruben Montoya, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 4:13 pm

Ruben Montoya is a registered user.

correction> the other more [local] elective offices...


Posted by Division's in the Mirror, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 4:59 pm

Division's in the Mirror is a registered user.

"We have met the enemy and it is us." So true.
I like: "Choose your enemies wisely, for you will become them."
The Democrat leadership has become the exact type of people Democrats used to despise. Liberals/Progressives now commit all the evils and use all the inexcusable methods the Conservatives did in the 1950s and prior.
Remember, "If you're under 30 and not a Democrat, you have no heart; if you're over 30 and not a Republican, you have no brains (or short memories would be equally as relevant).
Baby-Boomers said: "Don't trust anyone over 30!" And promptly forgot once they became 30.
We are where we are because any moderate Democrats get attacked by more extreme Democrats. It's become a competition to see how far and how fast Democrats can run to the Left.
What is worse (as you can learn in many media articles these days), the Democrats in 2000 and right through to today have been pouring tens of millions into running ads supporting the most extreme Republicans and blasting the moderate Republicans in the primaries.
The Democrats now admit to this practice and even explained their theory. The Democrats say that they have been boosting the most extreme Republicans in the primaries on the assumption that Republican voters will not be willing to vote for them and thus not vote. This is the Democrats version of "voter suppression".
The Democrats have been asked by reporters about the risk of these extreme Republicans possibly getting elected. The Democrat response is that their desired results are worth the risk.
That is how Trump got elected in 2016.
This Democrat practice of elevating only the most extreme candidates of BOTH parties began in the 2000 election primaries out of sheer anger over the Bill Clinton Impeachment. (stupid mistake by Republicans.) Dems failed in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2016, 2018 & 2020. In 2022? 6 days.


Posted by Michael, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 8:17 pm

Michael is a registered user.

There is only right of center and far right in the US. The most progressive we have are Sanders and AOC, both of which qualify as 1980's Republicans. There is not a single candidate in office in the US that is not an ardent free market Capitalist. It is nonsense not to acknowledge this. Every swing to the right has a ratcheting effect that never allows a return to left only center.


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 3, 2022 at 7:07 am

Annette is a registered user.

OMG, Diana, you really invited true disclosure of Palo Alto with this blog. Some of the responses bother me, but they do not surprise me. Palo Alto isn't as iconic or blue or virtuous as is often claimed. I think the single thing everyone must do is keep in mind that America represents a unique social experiment that has survived into its third century and that we have a Constitution that has carried us far and through some rough eras. After that, if everyone followed the Golden Rule (simplistic, yes, but also effective) every aspect of life would be improved. I think elitism was a big contributor to the outcome of the 2016 election. From there, the social dynamic has eroded as you have described. I am not ready to capitulate to the hate and anger and frankly, I don't know anyone who is. So, there's hope. We can all Practice Aloha and Live the Golden Rule.

All that said, it is also imperative that governments at all levels get serious about funding programs that get at the root of some of our worst problems: the lack of affordable housing in many communities, the lack of mental health programs, hunger, and poor education. People who are housed, fed, healthy, and well educated are more likely to contribute positively to society than to work against the public good.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2022 at 7:12 am

Bystander is a registered user.

At the local level, which in many ways is what is going to affect us as Palo Alto residents on a daily basis, I am much more interested in who is elected and what their priorities are.

I don't need a council telling me their virtue signals, or feel good sentiments. I am not a school kid that needs to be told how to behave to be a good citizen. I know that. What I do need is a council that can work on the things I personally can't do. I want our infrastructure to be the main focus, our water, our traffic, and most definitely our utility power supply, to function efficiently and priority made to improve services that all of us depend on daily. I do not want to be preached to, I want progress made that can be observed. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the upcoming winter season without any power outages? Why is that simple statement just a pipe dream?


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 3, 2022 at 4:44 pm

Annette is a registered user.

"The far-left and the far-right are equally pathetic. They're both a threat to democracy." That is a perfect summation. And here's a sliver of good news: I think a growing number of people are recognizing that. I know I am hearing comments like that with greater frequency from a variety of people.


Posted by Kirsten Roberts, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 2:23 pm

Kirsten Roberts is a registered user.

I was watching Easy Rider (1969) the other evening with my grandparents.

Not much has changed as the theme of the movie was about looking for America and never finding it.


Posted by OldPA Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 2:51 pm

OldPA Resident is a registered user.

Regarding California propositions. Many propositions are deceptive, having an ostensible purpose but also having a carefully disguised hidden purpose. An example of this was Proposition 19, for which was heavily promoted as increasing funding to fight wildfires but whose actual main purpose was to overturn key parts of the Proposition 13 property tax protections put in place in 1978. This one was so cleverly worded that even the estate planning attorneys missed it. Most propositions are prepared and sponsored by special interest groups, whose special interests are more likely to be unfavorable to the general public. I've found that in most cases, if the purpose of a proposition isn't clear and it's tricky to decide whether to vote "yes" or "no" it's almost always safer to vote "no."


Posted by Division's in the Mirror, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 4:48 pm

Division's in the Mirror is a registered user.

"Regarding California propositions. Many propositions are deceptive, having an ostensible purpose but also having a carefully disguised hidden purpose."
I hate to tell you, but all California Propositions are always deceptive in every election, regular and special.
Since you mentioned Prop 13, if you're old enough, you may remember the Prop 13 advertisements. Look at what Prop 13 actually did.
I cannot recall a single California proposition that was not a bait & switch.
Now, maybe more local propositions for school district bond and some other local proposition might have been what was claimed, but all state-level propositions are based on bait & switch.
Even Prop 1 is really a bait & switch in 3 sentences.
The proper rule for any propositions is that unless you personally have fully read and clearly thought-through the entire text of the proposition and are convinced it is a good thing overall, then you should always vote NO on all propositions, no matter who put it on the ballot.


Posted by Eeyore, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 4, 2022 at 8:43 pm

Eeyore is a registered user.

We do what we can. For the first time in my life I voted republican, for governor. I can only hope that some deep red conservative in Florida similarly votes for a democrat.


Posted by Ron Becket, a resident of Gemello,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 7:21 am

Ron Becket is a registered user.

• I was watching Easy Rider (1969)...Not much has changed as the theme of the movie was about looking for America and never finding it.

° Though Peter Fonda & Dennis Hopper never found America, Peter Fonda's character (Wyatt) tried to assure his friend (Hopper) that despite all that they witnessed while traveling through the southeast, "Everything will turn out OK."


Posted by Randy Jessup, a resident of another community,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 11:54 am

Randy Jessup is a registered user.

For those overly concerned about the loss of American democracy today, look no further than the 1916-1920 Woodrow Wilson administration.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 12:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"• I was watching Easy Rider (1969)...Not much has changed as the theme of the movie was about looking for America and never finding it.

° Though Peter Fonda & Dennis Hopper never found America, Peter Fonda's character (Wyatt) tried to assure his friend (Hopper) that despite all that they witnessed while traveling through the southeast, "Everything will turn out OK." "

They found America; and it killed him which didn't turn out ok for him.

Thank you, Diana, for this. I don't think you can look at the polarization in this country until you look at media concentration which is fueling this division while ignoring facts/underlying causes that don't fit their narrative.


Posted by Lauren Capers, a resident of Stanford,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 2:37 pm

Lauren Capers is a registered user.

@Online Name:

Speaking as a film archivist, Easy Rider's main ideology is freedom. Billy and Wyatt, the main characters, went looking for America, but couldn't find it anywhere. They found a corrupt society instead of the American Dream lifestyle which had always been portrayed previously. Through close analysis of the characters representations and specific scenes within Easy Rider the critical visions of America are clear...the junk yard, parading without a licence, the hostile cafe, Jack Nicholson's death, the New Orleans brothel and Wyatt's closing ephiphany, ‘We blew it' pretty much sums things up.

The final shootings, clearly portray zeitgeist creating clear ideologies which are critical about American society.

That said, how far have we come or evolved towards a more humanistic and improved America?

It will take more than an election to get things rolling.


Posted by Brandon Quinn, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 3:26 pm

Brandon Quinn is a registered user.

> I don't think you can look at the polarization in this country until you look at media concentration which is fueling this division while ignoring facts/underlying causes that don't fit their narrative.

Excellent point as CNN, MNBC, Fox News, Newsmax etc. are more editorial and opjnion-oriented in nature compared to more straightforward news reportages (i.e. PBS News).

Is this because many Americans prefer to be entertained rather than fully informed?


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Lauren Capers, excellent points and questions. Are we more polarized now than in the "America: Love it or Leave it" days of Easy Rider (1969)?

I fear we are. And remember that none of those cable channels existed in 1969 because cable tv didn't even become common for another 20 years. CNN was founded in 1980.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2022 at 5:58 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Brandon Quinn. Excellent points, but I would not think that PBS is much better than the other msm, although they do try.

I think we had much better reporting when the news was a 30 minute evening update and there was little time for opinion by every talking head in the room. The opinions were left to serious newspapers and Sunday papers and current affairs shows.

What we have now is non-stop noise and we are not better informed by any of it.


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 6, 2022 at 6:15 pm

Annette is a registered user.

These comments put me on a search for a what I thought was a Ted Koppel comment about "McNuggets" of information. In the process I re-read his June 1998 Stanford Commencement speech, which is exceptional. I also read a short article dated 11/13/2010 in which he mourned the passing of real news. An excerpt:

"And so among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be. This is to journalism what Bernie Madoff was to investment: He told his customers what they wanted to hear, and by the time they learned the truth, their money was gone. Just let that soak in. How can these changes be good for anyone except the networks themselves?"

They aren't, things have gotten worse over the intervening 12 years, and unimaginably bad since January 6, 2021. This brand of "news" is breaking our democracy in ways I think most of us never imagined possible. If only power failures could be selective and eliminate biased news programs. We'd all be forced to think for ourselves. I think we'd do better. Let's not wait so long to learn the truth that our democracy is gone.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Nov 7, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Diana, thank you for this timely piece. We are actually in a dire situation these days, but many people are completely oblivious. The root cause is complicated, I see many important factors at play:

- ownership of media by powerful players with their own agendas
- news being treated as a clickbait commodity rather than an essential basis for democracy (i.e. it requires an "informed electorate" to enable responsible votes)
- human nature's tribalism instincts
- affluenza

A relevant movie that sheds light on the first items is the movie "Network", Web Link . I highly recommend that people watch it, it almost looks like a humorless documentary now, but at the time it was actually a COMEDY. Back then networks subsidized news departments, the quality of which were a source of respect and prestige. We had the likes of Walter Cronkite and Edward R Murrow solemnly and truthfully explaining major events each day. The movie explores a wild and wacky notion: what if news was presented in order to primarily garner ratings and audience share? The plot: a highly provocative news anchor gains power by chance, and the network decides to give him air time. It's wild that presenting news for ratings was considered absolutely RIDICULOUS at the time, because today of course that is now standard operating practice.

Today we often can't even agree on what is "fact" and what is not, and the fact-checkers themselves are often politically biased.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was legislation that enabled media consolidation. Before it, viewers of each network were actually quizzed on their knowledge of current events, and if they got poor scores the network was legally required to improve what was broadcast.

Re tribalism, most of us hold different standards for the Red Team and the Blue Team. We are outraged when those on the other team behave badly, but ignore the same behavior from "our" team. We NEED to use a common yardstick for all.


Posted by Division's in the Mirror, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 7, 2022 at 7:15 pm

Division's in the Mirror is a registered user.

Leslie, you might also mention "Broadcast News" as a lighter but still relevant movie to go with "Network".
I agree with your points, but I would add a few others in showing ourselves how we got here.
First, in the days of Cronkite, the networks were all structured so that the head of the News division reported directly to the President of the network and was on reasonably equal-footing as the head of Entertainment. When this started to change so that the News division became just another entity under the Entertainment head, that was a huge shift to eliminate actual reporting. I recall a major reporter back then decrying this change and accurately predicting the results down the road.
Second, it goes well beyond just the destruction of legitimate journalism. Our divisions are deeply tied to our proliferation of popular entertainment and lack of common vicarious experiences. It used to be we had 3 networks pumping out the best fictional TV they could and pretty much everyone of all political views were either watching the same TV shows or were at least up on the plots. New broadcast networks eliminated the commonality.
Third, we had a huge increase in sources of news due to cable TV. CNN had 24 hours every day to fill with "news". There was so much time to be filled on cable TV, they had to find new ways to keep eyes on the screens for their advertisers. They also needed vast numbers of talking heads who looked good and spoke well for TV.
Fourth, we have the Internet, sheesh.
The problem is that we as a species have become so good at making up new forms of media that every single one of us can find exactly the opinions we want to hear. Meaning, there is no moderation of anything, no commonality of experience, no compromise required.
Add that to the 22 years of now openly admitted primary manipulations and nobody but the most extreme voices are allowed to speak for fear of being attacked by their own party. The Centrists are seen as traitors by both parties.


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Nov 8, 2022 at 8:29 am

Annette is a registered user.

There must be a way back, or at least a way out of this dilemma and on to a less toxic approach. I think most people want that, but are at loss as to how to achieve it. I know I feel healthier when I limit my media exposure. Maybe that's a starting point. I also think editors everywhere need to help society correct itself. Several years ago there was a tragic mass shooting in, if I recall correctly, Oregon. The chief of police (or whoever was handling the public interface) refused to use the shooter's name, denying him notoriety. I thought that was a brilliant move. Media coverage dissipated rather than intensely looping the story. More actions like that might help.


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Nov 8, 2022 at 8:57 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Division, I agree with your points too, thanks for sharing them. I think it is important for the younger generation to understand how the world has changed; for some reason we seem to believe that "how it is now" is "how it has always been", which is not true.

I enjoyed Broadcast News too, but yes, it is lighter. You inspired me to do some research, apparently Network ranked #66 on "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies", Broadcast News was nominated for it.

"Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin wrote that "no predictor of the future"not even Orwell"has ever been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote 'Network'." "

"Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and praised [Broadcast News] for being as "knowledgeable about the TV news-gathering process as any movie ever made, but it also has insights into the more personal matter of how people use high-pressure jobs as a way of avoiding time alone with themselves"."

Your point here is huge: "It used to be we had 3 networks pumping out the best fictional TV they could and pretty much everyone of all political views were either watching the same TV shows or were at least up on the plots." As a nation, we were much more "on the same page" back then because of the technology available at that time. Remember the watercooler discussions about a breaking news item or a bit of entertainment (like "Roots")? That might happens today, but only rarely.

This one too: "The problem is that we as a species have become so good at making up new forms of media that every single one of us can find exactly the opinions we want to hear."

And thanks so much for this (sometimes I feel alone in knowing this, it warms my soul that you know about it too): "Add that to the 22 years of now openly admitted primary manipulations" ...


Posted by Division's in the Mirror, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Nov 8, 2022 at 6:52 pm

Division's in the Mirror is a registered user.

Thanks Leslie,
Speaking of feeling alone in knowing something...
In Broadcast News, there is a moment when the network executive said:
"It must feel nice being right all of the time!"
The women he was trying to denigrate (played by Holly Hunter) said:
"No, it's awful."
That's basically where I have lived my whole life, in that moment, so when I saw it in Broadcast News, it hit me like a load of bricks that other people understood this too.
On the younger generation:
What I have seen is the attitude that anything that happened before I was born didn't happen or if it did, it didn't matter and in any case, there's no reason I should care or even know about it.
In the past, the various younger generations accepted that the only way you know where you are going is to know where you've been. Today, all they care about is what is on TikTok right this minute.
And Orwell was mainly wrong about the one detail everyone mentions, "Big Brother". The danger was never going to be from one Big Brother, but from all the millions of "Little Brothers" acting as if only one possible way of believing is acceptable.
And hey, I have yet to meet anyone who knows who actually killed President Lincoln when I asked them. 100% of people give the same wrong answer. I find that one understandable ignorance, but I find the one about systematic interference with our Primary elections process and the fact it went on for decades without getting reported, that's just unacceptable.
I have met many people who knew that "Roots" was not a true story by the author and it had been all made up from the start and had nothing to do with his family.


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