Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's The Satirists Who Are Keeping The Strange, Scary News Straight For Us

Satirists like Samanatha Bee are becoming
some of the most trusted news sources. 
Like most people, I get lost in the endless chatter and shoutfests and lame "analysis" on the cable news networks.

Sure, I watch them a lot, but they get to yakking about all the outrages going in Washington to the point where none of it makes sense.

When I get confused like that, I turn to satirists like Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and sometimes the cast of "Saturday Night Live" to set me straight.

Yes, they all have a point of view, but satirists cut through the bullshit, instead of adding to it.

When the news gets confusing, satirists like John
Oliver are there for the rescue. 
I just encountered a video that backs up my point of view exactly. The point of the video, from Vox, is that comedians have learned to cover the Trump administration much more effectively than any news network.

Here's why:

Big news networks will accurately report that something Trump said is a lie, or totally fabricated, or has no evidence to back it up.

So far, so good.

Then the TV channels spend hours and hours and hours parsing the latest lie or stupid remark. Plus, they bring on Trump sycophants to defend the lie, to spin the lie, to make it all seem better.

All this has the effect of confusing the viewer. Including people like me, who are pretty sophisticated news consumers.  

Frankly, I trust Stephen Colbert more than I trust
much of what passes for cable news. 
The news network reporters all know the latest Trump lie du jour is bullcrap, but they take it seriously, and make an effort to "report all sides of the issue."

But when something is bull, just call it that, for crissakes!

Which is what satirists do. You don't necessarily have to agree with the satirsts' point of view, but at least you know you're getting to the heart of the matter.

In a humorous way. Humor often makes things so much easier to understand.

A few journalists are starting to get the message. Jake Tapper on CNN, for instance, is starting to make sarcastic remarks when a Trump surrogate says something over the top. He's calling the bullcrap.  

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow isn't really a satirist, but she's sure doing a good job of digging through the mountains of dirt in Washington to give us some insight into what's really going on. I like how she enthusiastically explains things in ways any bozo (like me!) can understand.

So all that is a start.

Yes, journalists ought to try to over all sides and be fair. But when someone is calling the Earth flat, time to go for the jugular.

It's no wonder satirists through history have had they heydeys when the leaders are failing particularly badly. If you're a good satirist, enjoy your current success. We need people like you.

In the video at the bottom of this post, you'll hear Sophia McClennen, a co-author of "Is Satire Saving Our Nation?" give this money quote that is spot on: "Political satire is about showing you the system is faking you out...It fires up the mind to say, 'Hmmm, this doesn't seem right.'"

Yes, I think satire can inspire needed political activism.

 The video below is about seven minutes long, but you should really watch it. It's a great guide to how to report on, and how the public ought to try and understand bullcrap. The video is NSFW, because of some language, but worth it.

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