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While driving to work last week and listening to a news broadcast, I was so disgusted I turned it off. Almost everything about it was over-the-top, frenetic and almost entirely deceptive. For several days, all I heard was hyperbole about a government shutdown. Reporters were literally breathless. On visual media, an hour, minute and second count to shutdown was prominently displayed in the corner of every screen.

For decades, we have been told nothing is more important than government. For decades, politicians and activists have stopped at nothing to make our lives more and more dependent upon government, and then they blackmail us by threatening to shut it down and bring us to the edge of a manipulated apocalypse because they want something and someone says they can’t have it.

The media obliges by hysterically counting down to the end of the world.

It was not the end of the world. It was not even close, and I am getting sick of it all.

We go through stages as we age. I remember how shocked I was the first time I learned a government had lied to me. I sincerely believed even if other governments would lie to their people, our government would not.

Then I learned the media was less than truthful. While not lying directly, they spread other peoples’ lies as if they were the truth. I found from actual experience certain things were covered and other things would disappear. The day I turned off the news, a story was breaking about how women’s groups “all over the world” were protesting Trump.


I have witnessed demonstrations of 30 people that gained national attention while countering demonstrations of 3,000 received no coverage.

Later, I learned how to stage a demonstration. What narrative will appeal to the media? How do you place a camera so that it looks like the world agrees with you? What camera angle will make one person look strong and another weak? Could you get away with literally putting a light behind someone’s head, turning them into a magic figure?

Yes, you can do all of that.

Later still, I learned how flat-out nasty some of our public figures are in their tactics and private lives. Many are not interested in defeating their opponents, they want to destroy them. Some of the nicest people I have known have been vilified, and some of the vilest persons have been turned into heroes and saviors.

It is little wonder that so many dislike politicians and government and so many disdain the media.

This is especially true as our population grows older. Like the ad says, “We have seen a thing or two.”

The naiveté of youth can turn to anger and then to existentialist despair. Yet, hopefully in the wisdom of age, we turn to what is actually real in our lives, our family and friends, the youthful joy of our grandchildren and to the warmth of a trusted spouse.

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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