Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Missing Colors"

At the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, we found ourselves at an interview event for MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (I wonder if he is related to perennial cowboy sidekick “Gabby” Hayes), there promoting his latest publication.  Our last-minute decision to go consigned us to the distant recesses of the upper balcony.  

Since I had not watched Chris Hayes’s program –or any other cable news show – since the presidential election, the chance encounter was like spotting an old girlfriend from afar.  I heard myself thinking, “He looks good” and wondering how life had been treating him. 

(Note: It was a “coin flip” deciding whether to attend the interview session at all.  My fragile “I guess so” echoed the muted enthusiasm of a “Hillary” supporter.)  (Dr. M’s political stance is typically “Chicagoan” {her hometown} in nature, involving skepticism and bribes, followed, for numerous recent Illinois governors obligatorily, by prison.)

Since the 2016 election, my enthusiasm for cable news commentators has dramatically subsided.  It’s not just that they gave a tip on the wrong horse; they sent me to the entirely wrong racetrack.  If Lewis and Clark had had them for guides, they would never have reached the Pacific.

Judging by his festival performance, Chris Hayes appears confidently unmoved by the recent debacle.  Responding to the only meaningful political question of the day:  “How did he do it?” Hayes responded, sincerely and articulately, that anyone capturing the nomination of a major political party stood a reasonable shot at getting elected.

His answer sounded like… first of all, there were, by my unofficial statistical analysis, precisely zero Trump supporters in the audience; the utterance of his name rivaled the outcry of mentioning “Haman” at a Purim party.  The assemblage did not care for the man.  Although, it should be noted, there were no outcries of “Lock him up!”

Opining that anyone capturing the nomination of a major party had a reasonable chance of winning the presidency conveyed the diminishing implication that, “This Trump guy did nothing particularly special.”

The problem is,

He did.

The more localized problem, for a looked-up-to commentator on a liberal news outlet:

Chris Hayes had no idea how he did it.

And he sure as heck was not giving the guy credit.

And conversely, shoulder the responsibility for being astoundingly clueless himself.

Chris Hayes’s opaque understanding of the reality of Trump’s electoral (college) success speaks directly to why I am not longer a regular or even irregular viewer of cable news.  (I would add “or any other kind of news” but I never watched any other kind of news.)

Not only do they not get it, they do not get that they do not get it.

And there is an unlikelihood of an altering epiphany anytime soon.

At this point I was planning to analogize the condition of what I have cleverly   entitled “Missing Colors” with an imagined conversation I had with superstar writer/director/producer Judd Apatow – with whom I am acquainted through our mutual participation on The Larry Sanders Show­­ – wherein I tell him, ten years and a hundred-and-fifty million box office bucks later, that, had he consulted me beforehand, I could have advised him on how to make Knocked Up a more believable movie. 

But I shall leave that exercise in blatant self-plagiarism for tomorrow.

I shall conclude today, referencing a new book entitled The Knowledge Illusion (by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach) which argues that everything we know and proudly proclaim as “original thinking” derives in reality from some other source, invariably a peer group in which we seek respect and acceptance so we internalize their beliefs claiming them mistakenly as our own.

My primary reason for abandoning cable news, beyond the unsalvable distress of having a president who ran for the highest office in the land just to impress women is that I readily accommodated the thoughts and beliefs of a group with which I felt an intellectual and ideological alignment.

And those thoughts and beliefs led me horribly astray.

Leaving me with no one reliable to learn from,

Turning on a spit of unutterable confusion.

(Which, contradictorily, does not stop me from talking about it.)

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