In the NY Times, James Poniewozik writes about the president’s TV addiction:
The problem is not how much TV Mr. Trump watches. It’s the kind of TV he watches.
As Mr. Trump’s associates report and his Twitter feed confirms, his video diet of choice is cable news, the most agitating, psychically toxic programming you can immerse yourself in, even if you don’t have possession of the nuclear codes.
This is not to say cable news is bad journalism. There are talented people in the business doing great reporting. But it is to say that cable news — as a genre, a gestalt, an environment to spend hours a day in — is by nature agitating and provoking.
That’s the cable-news business model. Conflict means urgency, and urgency means viewers glued to the channel. So it seeks out arguments and pushes buttons. It is a machine designed to generate stress and negative emotion.
He’s absolutely right about the programming that makes up hour after hour every day on all the cable news outlets. No matter what your political persuasion, it is toxic. I’ve seen its effect on my mother, who used to live in an apartment by herself with the TV spewing that stuff all day long, and witnessed how it turned her sour, angry, and anxious. Now that she’s in an assisted living facility, she has more activities to take up several hours of each day, but when she’s in her room, those are still the only channels she watches — and they don’t help make her day better.
Similarly, I have seen the same effect on friends who obsess over every story those outlets over-cover and the arguments they produce. For some of those friends, the only time they turn away from the TV screen is when they turn towards their phone or laptop screen to vent about what they’ve seen on Facebook, where they then consume even more noxious content. A couple of them even take their cable news obsession with them in the car, listening via SiriusXM or the TuneIn app, or listening to just-as-pernicious talk radio hosts. Do you think that might have something to do with instances of road rage in this country?
Poniewozik’s advice isn’t merely valid for the president, but for everyone. Turn that trash off. It’s the same thing I urged in my “This Isn’t Fake News” speech earlier this year:
I give you this advice because it’s exactly what I have done. When I used to have a daily radio show, I had to jump into the information ocean repeatedly throughout the day to catch whatever would make an interesting talking point for that day’s show. Now that I’m only on once a week, doing a show that’s dedicated to everything but the hard news of the day, I have pulled back dramatically on my news fetish. I am anything but an information luddite, but I’m happy to find other things to do with my time than bathing my brain in the fetid backwash that exists in our information overload.
I strongly suggest you cleanse yourself of it, too.
Poniewozik goes on to recommend that, if the president is going to watch so much TV, he should change the channel to find an old movie, or a sitcom, or the Golf Channel.