Thursday, May 3, 2012

Freedom of the Press...Overrated

As is my custom at 6:30 in the morning, I scanned my computer screen for news headlines. Here are just a few that greeted me on Thursday, the 3rd of May, 2012:

"Blind Man Exposes Himself...at Association For The Blind"

"Homeowners Association Sues Returning Vet Over Backyard Swing Set"

" Computer Glich Summons 1,200 For Jury Duty, Causing Massive Traffic Jam"

"Man Attempts Robbery With Underwear On Head"

It's time to admit it..Freedom of the Press is overrated. In fact, I believe that this country would benefit greatly from a total news blackout for say, a month. I nominate August. It's hot, and most people are at the beach anyway. Seriously, what has a "free" press gotten us? The Today show. Matt Lauer, with his 20 million dollar salary asking George Clooney why more people don't love Obama. The New York Times, the alleged newspaper of record, hasn't endorsed a Republican candidate since, I don't know..Teddy Roosevelt, and yet still insists that it is politically unbiased. Fox News, where amazingly, every journalists they have ever hired to read the news just happens to have blond hair and a great rack.

What do we as citizens gain from all this news anyway? Thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, we have virtually unlimited access to information on everything from the price of cotton in India to what Lindsey Lohan threw up for dinner last night...to what end? Are we better informed than say, a typical housewife in 1963 who's hometown  had one newspaper, and although her TV could only pick up two channels, she never missed Walter Cronkite reading the news every night? How on earth did she survive without instantaneous access to the daily tracking polls measuring President Kennedy's reelection chances? For heavens' sake, how could she possibly have made an "informed" decision without knowing that he was swimming naked with Marilyn Monroe in the White House pool?

Freedom of the press..ppsssht...how about freedom FROM the press? Every year when I go on vacation, I have a rule. My only source of news can be the local paper from where ever I happen to be. In Maine, I'm treated to the Lewiston Sun Journal. In Key West it's the Key West Citizen. Myrtle Beach offers up the North Myrtle Beach Times. Each of these fine papers offers everything I need to be properly informed...local weather, and a quality sports page with easy to find box scores. I turn off CNN,  FOX,  ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC...and after a couple of weeks, my IQ has risen 10 points. My attitude about my country, the world, and my place in it improves exponentially with each day that I am not treated to every gory detail of it's sorry state. So, it turns out that Ignorance is not only bliss, it's also healthy.