From the “I Told You So” Desk: Justin Fox is a writer for Bloomberg News in New York City. He recently had to go to San Francisco, so in hopes of finding column topics, he drove both ways. He took two different routes, crossing a number of states to the north on the way and to the south coming back. And he discovered something surprising that he could have learned a lot faster and easier by reading my book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy”: the people living in the media centers of New York, California and DC are completely out-of-touch with the rest of America.
Fox found that outside the hyper-partisan liberal bubbles on either end of his trip (his office in San Francisco was playing the Kavanaugh hearings in the bathrooms!), people are not obsessed with national politics. They weren’t gnashing their teeth and shaking their fists at the clouds because Trump is President, nor were they physically assaulting each other for holding differing views. They had other things to think and talk about. TVs in most bars and restaurants weren’t tuned to cable news but to sports or other non-political entertainment. There was talk radio, but you can always listen to music or audiobooks in the car instead, and Fox did.
As a result of not living on a constant diet of partisan political “OUTRAGE!!!”, Americans outside the media centers seemed happy and united in their common goodness. Fox wrote that away from all that constant media negativity, “this country can actually feel like a pretty calm, friendly, well-functioning place. Maybe it is!” Yeah, maybe so! Imagine that!
This began to affect Fox’s mood. He found himself feeling a strange and unusual “sense of calm, remove and yes, optimism.” But then, he arrived back in New York and plugged back into his usual media outlets and social and work circles. That sense of calm and optimism quickly started to fade.
Fox writes, “Maybe this just means I’m returning to the real world after an escapist journey. But I also wonder if it’s an indication that my normal media diet — even though it’s mostly free of such known toxins as Facebook and cable TV news, and heavy on old books — is driving me a little nuts.”
Let me answer that for you: it’s your normal media diet, which is making your stomach churn up ulcers as surely as a diet of rotten food and rotgut whiskey would.
Naturally, being a Manhattan-dwelling Bloomberg writer, Fox couldn’t break through to self-awareness completely and recognize which was the real America and which was the hysteria-created fantasy. And of course, he couldn’t end his piece without trying to find a way to blame President Trump, “who seems intuitively to understand this new media landscape better than anyone” and “has chosen to use it mainly to foment further division and anger.”
Really? All that anger and division in the media is Trump's fault? Checking out the publication date on my book about how the coastal and DC media people live in bitter and angry leftist echo chambers and don’t have a clue about what people in “flyover country” are really thinking or hold to be important, I find that it was published on January 20, 2015 – almost six months to the day before Trump even announced he was running for President.
I genuinely commend Mr. Fox for doing what virtually no other liberal media writer would try – venturing out of his bubble for a while - and recommend you read his column at the link. And believe me, I feel for him, losing that sense of blessed calm. I only look at the more outrageous stuff myself so I that can write about it for you with a little humor and calm detachment. My motto is, “I read the 'news' so you won’t have to.” And those quotations marks around the word "news" are quite deliberate.
But to answer his other question: No, he definitely didn’t “return to the real world” when he dived back into a 24/7 stream of vitriolic and obsessive liberal politics in Manhattan. Actually, he left the real world and returned to the left world.
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