News In The New Age
Throughout this earliest leg of Donald Trump’s presidency, the news-cycle has been absolutely dizzying. Fatiguing and vertiginous, really, if I’m being honest. They are admittedly seldom, but there used to be nights when I’d come home, weary from the monotony of a white-collar kind of a day, and I’d flick on the tube in want of nothing more than an update on the banalities of the news and the predictable goings-on of the day. I’d peek at the timeline, at the headline, at the screen, or at the box and expect with complacency to see the familiar segments dedicated to the trite and boring themes we used to know yet never admit to enjoying so well. In those halcyon days of tedium, the news and the politics were ordinary things: cats were in the trees, dogs were off the leash, Girl Scout sold their cookies, and buried treasures were every now and again mined by some amateur on the beach. Scandals were less seldom—controversies less conspicuous. Of course, it could be that I simply wasn’t paying enough attention or that I was incurious and ignorant, but the general sentiment with which I was struck was that there was less was going on. At seeing the news of old, never did my eyebrow raise nor my pulse hasten. I would simply use the evening news as my public-access prolegomenon to sleep.
No more. Now, I’m made to work for my “Z’s”. In checking the news before bed, I no longer get that soporific effect that once allowed me to drift off toward eight untroubled hours of unconscious thought. On the contrary, doing so tends to act upon my harried nerves rather like a stimulant than a sedative—like caffeine rather than chamomile. This, after a day whose every waking hour was filled with merciless inundations of the news in the forms of text alerts, emails, trending topics, and water-cooler chatter, all of which are, in practice at least, unavoidable. From sunrise to sunset, dusk till dawn, the news is an unabated torrent. It soaks us, drenches us, and laughs as it mindlessly washes Mr. Sandman away.
The past forty-eight hours in America have seen an especial deluge; we’ve been saturated as we’ve not been in quite some time. For one thing, North Korea is teetering on the brink—of war, of mutually assured destruction, of an imminent and potentially violent end to its despotic regime. Of the three outcomes that might soon happen, we can’t yet be sure. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has empaneled a grand jury to decide on whether or not the FBI should prosecute members of the Trump campaign. Iranian drones have nuzzled uncomfortably near American planes in the arid skies of the Middle East, nearly demanding a military response from the U.S. On top of it all, the president has angered from his golf course at Bedminster just about everyone from every walk of life. This is the tsunami of news, the daily deluge, the oceanic attempt to keep up. This is the age of President Trump.