A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

The laser pointer and the cat

Jul 9, 2017 - By Randy Tucker

Today's president vs. TV news game-playing is just about the same.

We stayed in a downtown hotel in Denver recently while catching a show at the Buell Theatre. It claimed to be an "international" hotel, and the Asian cuisine at the breakfast buffet lived up to the billing. Not the fare you usually find here in cow country, but unique and excellent anyway.

The television channels were international as well with feeds from Brazil, Japan, Europe and the Middle East. I found an English-broadcast Japanese station and watched the news one evening.

What a dramatic difference this station offered in comparison with American news programming.

It was devoid of celebrities and politics. There were no crashes, fires, murders or scandals. What was being broadcast was fascinating.Imagine episodes of "How it's Made", "Modern Marvels" and your favorite business news program all rolled into one. Segments on soybeans, aquaculture, high-speed trains, the job market and the latest digital gadgets made for a very entertaining half-hour program.

Turn on NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, MSNBC or ABC and you won't find a single program like this. American news is so enveloped in politics, useless drama and inane "talking heads" that news isn't really news anymore. The cult of celebrity has taken the stage.

As a kid who enjoyed catching up on the day's events and, later, a teenager who competed in extemporaneous speaking, the news was important to me. Sadly, as with most Americans, that's not true anymore.

Turn on the news at 5 a.m. "Trump, Trump, Trump." Try again at noon and there he is again. Six o'clock or late night and there is no difference, "Trump, Trump, Trump." Enough already, isn't there anything else happening in the entire world that's newsworthy?

Have you ever watched a younger brother or sister who can get an older sibling to explode with just a single word, or even a look? The younger children learn quickly what will set off the older brother or sister, and they use this power with abandon. It drives parents crazy but it is real power that the younger child holds over the elder sibling.

Trump is that little kid.The media is the older child, and we're the long suffering parents. Like him, hate him, support him or seek medication because he nauseates you, it doesn't matter -- the man is a master of setting off the news media. One 20-word tweet and every 24/7 cable news network trots out the stable of "experts" to weigh in on his latest travesty.

The overriding question is why? Don't engage him. Maybe he'll govern instead of bait.

Six months into his presidency, nothing has happened. Not a single thing. He's changed personnel as often as other men change shirts. He's back-stabbed supporters, hung his spokespeople out to dry, insulted America's friends, and joined hands with our enemies, but he's done nothing for Joe and Nancy Citizen.

It's an impressive lack of accomplishment.With majorities in both houses, the Supreme Court and three-quarters of state legislatures change should be easy. His is a resume of impotence that no other president has every even remotely come to not achieving. In the process he's ingrained himself even deeper to the 25 to 30 percent of the population we can safely call true believers.No matter what he does, at least he's not Obama and at least he's white. Trumpers don't need much more to embrace their boy.

And yet, in the midst of all this glowing incompetence you have to respect him for what he has failed to do. No wall, no improved economy, (oil is actually dropping again) jobs are still leaving the country, Obamacare remains the law of the land and his GOP teammates in the House and Senate can't deliver on any of his promises. It is quite a record.

I for one, can't believe all this is by accident. His need for constant exposure betrayed him in the initial stages of his campaign bid 18 months ago, and it continues today.

"The Donald's" ego requires constant reassurance. If his name isn't the lead tomorrow morning, he'll say or tweet something by 8 a.m. that gets the old guys and the young gals of the news media rolling him back into focus.

Ever play with a kitten or puppy and a laser pointer?

Flash the red light on the floor and watch the kitten turn back flips chasing it. Shine it on the curtains, and your wife or mother will lambast you as the puppy tries to pull down the drapes.

Replace the laser pointer with the president's tweets and the puppy and kitten with the 24/7 news outlets, and you get the picture.

Trump plays with the media, and they play along.

Shine the dot, watch them run. Shine it over here, and they run that way. Make an inane statement or just make up random letters in a tweet like "covfefe," and thousands of news channel workers go without sleep for days, while the talking heads scramble for something, anything, to fill the never-ending time slot.

Wouldn't real news be a welcome change? Maybe this is what he means by "fake news." Technology, diplomacy, economics... real news that actually affects the lives of the viewer. Until then, what do say we lead with Trump this morning?

Editor's note: Staff writer Randy Tucker is a reitred public school educator.


 

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