For Your Viewing Displeasure

It is now definitively true: watching more news will make you dumber.

Image Credit: The Daily Beast

A week or so ago, I had one of those Uber rides that you tell other people about. My driver was a middle-aged, African-American man. He was articulate to a point of being nearly overwhelming. He was soft-spoken, though, and inquisitive.

He noted his former work as an instructor of immigrants, a teacher of newly-minted Americans. He expressed a grave concern with our current state of affairs. He moved to Boston from Brooklyn in the ’70s, smack in the middle of the busing crisis. We spoke of race, challenging family members and the inefficiencies of political conversations. As I pulled up to my destination — a Seaport bar out of my comfort zone — he put the car in park and craned his neck backwards. Looking at me, he said politely, “It has been wonderful to talk with you. It is so nice, and so rare, to speak with a person who is willing to hear a different viewpoint. I want to make sure you have the last word.”

I shared my final thoughts, shook his hand, and wished him a nice night. It was a 22-minute ride. I was alternately exhausted and rejuvenated by the experience. I hadn’t given thought to some of those topics in a while, but by the end of it, it felt like maybe the world isn’t as bad as people seem to think it is.

Sean Hannity and Jimmy Kimmel have been bickering for a week. The sophomoric, inane drivel that has fallen out of their mouths and excitable, tweeting fingers is the perfect example of how arguments go in 2018.

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version in case you have missed this story. Or avoided it. Or are smart enough to realize keeping up with such knuckleheaded pointlessness will take happy years off of your life.

After several days of trading barbs on TV and social media, Jimmy Kimmel attempted to defuse his feud with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Sunday.

From the Washington Post:

It all began with a joke Kimmel made last Monday on his ABC show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” about first lady Melania Trump’s accent. That enraged Hannity, who took to Fox News on Wednesday to call Kimmel a “despicable disgrace” and some other choice words. Kimmel fired back during his own show before the two TV personalities took their quarrel to Twitter.
Hannity called Kimmel a racist, pervert and “Harvey Weinstein jr.” To the charge of racism, Kimmel responded, “Another thing we have in common!” and then went on to make a gay sexual innuendo in reference to Hannity’s apparent love for President Trump.

This is all, of course, a carefully executed assault on IQ. There is this idea that anyone can be exposed as a hypocrite, if one is willing to do enough research to blow the whistle. In the case of Hannity, he printed out a Wikipedia entry (really) for The Man Show, Kimmel’s first television venture.

It is hardly worth the energy to explain that comparing Kimmel’s judgement on that show to the nearly 100 sexual assaults perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein is irresponsible, at best. This is dangerous thinking, and highly insulting to the women who had to defend themselves from Weinstein over so many unchecked years. Also, it is absolutely worth noting that Hannity’s recently acquired interest in standing up for the First Lady is a bit odd, considering his checkered past with keeping first families out of his cross-hairs, and his record in general. I could include article links here. But just watch his show instead.

None of this matters, though. Hannity’s viewers have license to renew their hatred of Jimmy Kimmel, that cryin’ lefty who used his infant child as a prop for purely political reasons. Kimmel’s fans will have their feelings towards Hannity reaffirmed.

They’re all hypocrites. None of them are hypocrites. Depends on who you listen to. It just doesn’t matter anymore.

There’s no reason to follow these kinds of stories. They aren’t illuminating. They aren’t helpful. You wouldn’t televise your family’s drunken holiday arguments. Substance is the enemy of ratings, and steak is nothing if the sizzle is loud enough.

Next time you’re in the back of an Uber, ask your driver where they are from. My guess is you’ll get a lot more from a 20-minute conversation than you could get from a week’s worth of late night monologues and blowhard punditry.

If nothing else, you’ll have at least a bit more reason to be hopeful. You sure as hell won’t find that on the news.