Questions Not Asked and Issues Not Dealt With

Not asked are questions like “Would people in your district not benefit from childcare” or “improved bridges?”

Instead, the right-wing media machine begins every national news cycle with what Republicans are angry about. Critical Race Theory is an example. It is never taught in grade schools, however controversial an idea this is, it’s nowhere near as significant as global warming, or the cost of childcare, yet Fox News peddled this made-up controversy 437 times in 2020.

The problem is mainstream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MS-NBC) too often follow the stories broken by Fox News. Instead of ignoring or naming it a hoax, CNN aired 183 segments two or more times on critical race theory; in 2020 ABC News aired 31 reports; the Dallas Morning News, 69 reports; The Los Angeles Times, 38 times, and CNN’s newswire, 88 times.

What is significant is not important. What is important is not significant. Most of the time, most of the media obsess over issues of mind-numbing triviality.  At the same time, issues of immense, even existential importance are largely or entirely ignored in favor of repetitive coverage of the most newsworthy event of the day.

The Washington Post published an article about it in the spring but did not point out it’s not taught in public schools. It quoted eight Republicans but no Democrats. The New York Times also published lengthy a story about it. In the 13th paragraph, the Times acknowledged CRT isn’t taught in public schools, yet reported Republicans as saying critical race theory has invaded classrooms.

A group of 85 fact-checking organizations wrote an open letter to YouTube to Wednesday faulting the video platform for spreading disinformation.  The organizations, including, Univision and The Washington Post Fact-checker, call YouTube’s efforts to moderate content “insufficient.”

It wasn’t an accident that Joe Manchin chose Fox News to declare his opposition to the Build Back Better legislation and pressed Republicans and people like Joe Manchin to answer questions about the problems in their constituencies.

The media has in recent years completely normalized the Republicans’  worldview, to the point where virtually all of the Build Back Better coverage ignores the fact it’s 50 Republicans who are dooming legislation that would create a universal prekindergarten program, subsidize child care costs, lower prescription-drug costs and offer tax credits for reducing carbon emissions. Instead, the media is focused on the opposition of just one Senator, Joe Manchin. The Republicans are treated as innocent bystanders whose actions play no role in any of this.

The media can do a better job of relating the most urgent everyday problems of Americans like paying for childcare which prevents millions of Americans from returning to work. Global warming threatens our daily existence in more than a dozen ways.  These can be illustrated as well as “Made in America” segments, which I consider a “feel good” story.”

I propose a new category of “Solve Problems” stories. New patents, new ideas coming from universities, ideas solicited from the public are among the sources that could be tapped.

Half of the country is searching for a new understanding of our racial history, the other half violently denies it. Half of our neighbors are demagoguing critical race theory, while the other half are busy reading or watching Fox News about it. Millions of people are asking questions about whether  American history is an existential threat to them because then they have to ask questions of themselves.

Trump has said, “Our country is going to hell!” And, he is leading the march. 15 Republicans who voted against the oil import ban included several of Trump’s most outspoken supporters, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Cawthorn has  called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

His co-travelers include right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack who says “climate control is nothing but a ruse of the devil” and adds that people are dying in Ukraine because environmentalists have “empowered” Putin by trying to limit the use of fossil fuels.   Yet another example:

“At least the guy was a Democrat”  was a text sent to South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg after he committed a fatal hit-and-run by a  GOP political strategist.

In Nevada, while leaving a restaurant with his family, Governor Steve Sisolak, was threatened with hanging by two fat men.  “We should string you up on lamppost right now!” “They hang traitors!” shouted the men, one of whom recorded his own video and posted it on social media.  Two Republicans running for the nomination to replace Sisolak for governor Reno attorney Joey Gilbert and Las Vegas council member Michele Fiore lauded it: “I cannot think of a more deserving person,” Gilbert wrote, while Fiore chimed in that Sisolak was “lucky it was just words.

Now there are Republicans who have the audacity to require that Congress vote every five years on whether to continue Medicare and Social Security. This is the 11-point “Rescue America Plan” plan of Senator Rick Scott. He also calls for raising taxes on low- and middle-income Americans, including retirees who rely solely on Social Security for their income.

President Biden criticized the plan , noting that imposing new limits on Social Security and Medicare could endanger the programs in the future.

“Really, ask yourself: How well are we going to sleep at night knowing that every five years, MAGA Republicans — if they’re still the Republican — as I said, this is not your father’s Republican Party — if we’re going to have to vote on whether you will have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and what amounts you’ll have in each of those programs?” Biden asked.

This is a warning about the GOP’s agenda for Social Security and Medicare and what seniors could face if the Republicans retake Congress in November.”

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