It’s been a while since I last had TV, and when I seem to end up anywhere near a TV set that’s playing news, it’s always set to Fox News or CNN, neither of which are worthwhile–it seems that CNN has decided to replace investigative journalism with downright speculation and social network pandering, a trend that should have died with the 2008 election; and Fox News has replaced any sort of journalistic intent with hate-mongering, interference, and some clever uses of rhetoric (I’ve noticed that one of their correspondents, a Megan with a “y”, speaks with this slightly angered trill, pure skepticism, or outright disgust–a tactic that might cause an unwary listener to get also angry, not at her or her annoying voice, but at what she’s reading.)  So, what is a good news source these days, especially for the political sphere?

On another note, Tennessee’s 2010 gubernatorial elections are coming up.  We are faced with a fairly weak Democratic candidate (Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter), and the Republicans are still debating their primary.  One of the candidates for the primary, a Zach Wamp, believes that because people lost their jobs in the private sector, people who work for the state should be punished by having their salaries cut, or their jobs lost (which is his intent–to merge Department of Human Services and Department of Children Services, then cut off the bottom 12%).  According to him, state workers who have to pay the same as private sector employees for insurance, and who earn 10,000 dollars less a year than someone with the same qualifications in the private sector, should be punished because there are people without jobs–a sentiment I also overheard on Fox News.  Is this something I misheard or misinterpreted?  Or is this some old sentimentality against state employees from long-ago?

—Nikolai

Easiest bit first: conservative ranting.  It’s a bit reflex anti-government rhetoric, a bit a strange but longstanding consie preference for economic pain.  There was a lot of this during the 2008 financial crisis: just let the banks and the auto industry fail!  See also the lost four years of  Herbert Hoover.  Instead of seeing a recession as a technocratic problem that can be solved, they prefer to see it as a moral failure that must be punished.  It’s barmy and sadistic: much better for the country is, you know, for people to have jobs.  Shrinking the economy, including the state portion of it, only deepens the pain.

As for news sources, ever since I gave up Time when it dumbed itself down, I can’t say I have a great solution.  Forget TV though.  You can absorb a lot more information by reading than watching.   The best news source I know is the Economist, but I read it only rarely.  For what’s-going-on I read CNN online.  I read the New Yorker regularly, and books to understand issues in depth.  A book like Vali Nasr’s The Shia Revival or George Packer’s The Assassin’s Gate will tell you more about the Middle East than a hundred news stories.

I like Andrew Sullivan’s blog for commentary and interesting links.  He’s amazingly prolific and quotes reasonable people both liberal and conservative.  For understanding economics Paul Krugman is fantastic.  I read a few other blogs but you’ll find them if you read Sullivan anyway.

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