Bloody insomnia! I tried a new tactic last night, getting to bed very early (before 9 pm), figuring I might be able to get more sleep if I gave myself more time to sleep. You know, if I planned to stay in bed from 9 pm to 5 am, maybe I could get six hours of sleep in during that eight-hour period.  Well, I awoke a few times between drifting off sometime shy of 10 and getting up at 2:45. At 2:45, I sensed staying in bed was fruitless; I would simply be tossing and turning without the benefit of sleep. So I got up, played a few games of Words with Friends, and read the “news” online.

Speaking of online news, I find it hard to differentiate, even in the work of legitimate news outlets, between news and gossip, facts and fantasy; it’s as if I’m witnessing the intellectual decay of the society in which we live. Perhaps that topic could become the foundation for a short story or a novel. Let’s try this on for size:

The National Enquirer and New York Post merge following their purchase by an egotistical billionaire whose legendary narcissism has been fodder for the very tabloids he buys. He renames the merged publications Unbridled: America’s Reliable Source of News and Information. Though some in the “main stream” media call the merger and the new name simply his manner of adjusting perceptions, he bullies on, accusing all media except those owned by him of being “in the pocket” of special interests.

His announcement, made in typical style: “My decision to form an unbiased news gathering and distribution system was based on the simple fact that Americans are being spoon-fed what special interests want them to see and hear. I don’t think Americans need to be given filtered news and information; we will give it to them straight.”

The new media magnate goes on to instruct his staff, wanna-be-journalists all, to “process” news reports coming out of “main stream” media in a way that makes the information conform to his philosophies. He asks his people to tell “the other side” of the stories by generating plausible counters to them. “If the reports say the President is meeting with a foreign dignitary, I want you to consider possible reasons for the meeting other than the official reasons given,” he says. “Look under every rock. What ulterior motive could he have? What are we not being told? I want every American to be able to understand our stories. Assume you’re writing to a third-grader; that’s the level of language I want you to use.”

The quality of the “investigative journalism” launched by Unbridled: America’s Reliable Source of News and Information is predictably poor, biased in ways that make Fox News seem supremely impartial. But the publication’s incorporation into its stories “sources” like NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, Wall Street Journal, BBC, and the Economist, gives many consumers of its “news” reason to believe its authenticity. Despite lawsuits filed by many sources against it, the new tabloid grows in popularity and influence.

Ahhh…I dunno. Maybe not. We’d have to be pretty stupid to allow ourselves to be hoodwinked like that, wouldn’t we?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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