It’s a Crime

It’s a Crime

It is, at this point, almost beyond trite to make fun of politicians. Also, it is getting a little exhausting to defend or indict the press. Simply put, no one is doing their job and everyone is mad about it. But, unfortunately, the narcissism of blogging won’t let me leave it at that. I have to continue to pick the scabs as if it matters. Otherwise, there will only be billions of blogs instead of a trillion, which we can all agree is unacceptable.

Three things happened this week that summarize why every politician you know thinks you’re a drooling moron and why the reporters think you don’t care what they print.

I must be clear on this point: I really don’t care very much about any of the following issues. What I care about is at least getting on the record that many if not most of us in the 21st century were not inferior to our politicians, just beaten by them. I describe my attitude toward politics as apathetic rage. I am too exhausted to care and to offended to stay calm about it.

Here’s why:

Recently Nic Kipke, a state representative here in Maryland said a tax increase was “political terrorism” because it was “not civil.”

Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch said reducing the penalties for possessing an ounce of marijuana would hurt children.

Our own Jim Mathias credited his “street sense”  for his decision to call the police about a suspicious person. No other white man in his 60s would credit street sense for deciding to call the cops when a quasi-homeless man was loitering in an upscale neighborhood. I get that when a politician calls the police, a reporter has to write about it. But to confuse a scared old man (whom I like very much, by the way) with Batman is borderline irresponsible.

Again, I don’t think for a second state reps should stop being cretins (how could they?) but there’s no point in repeating their innane ramblings. Instead, all were repeated and retweeted. Much like reality television, we amplify the stupid until we lose track of the difference between what’s a pathetic cry for attention and what’s clearly a cry for help.

This is not really new, using sensationalism to get attention for your newspaper is as old as journalism itself. But as much as we talk about journalism in the digital age, the whole “It bleeds it leeds” mentality prevails in a way that is disturbing and a little bit sad. Sensationalism once was the drum that made the mallet of journalism work. Newspapers were powerful, because they caught readers with sensational stories but also because they could not (or would not) be bullied by every politician.

Papers have always been partisan. Only recently has their conversion to attempted nonpartisanship, and determined “content creators” converted them to bullhorns for whichever fear-mongering politician happens to have their mouth open. Too many reporters have been turned into freelance flaks for politicians of every stripe, not by their complacency, but rather by their attempt to reflect, rather than interpret, reality. As long as they keep letting politicians speak in soundbites, no matter how inane, politicians will continue to let their hate, vanity and idiocy run wild.

There’s plenty more on this week’s Todcast, including the first ToddManOut man on the street interview.  Take a listen below or subscribe here.