When President Donald Trump bucked the National Rifle Association a couple of weeks ago, endorsing restrictions on gun ownership, everyone who doesn’t make a living as a political journalist knew it was nonsense and he’d eventually be forced to get back in step.
When the president quickly agreed to meet the leader of North Korea, most everyone knew he would backtrack.
And yet, we in the media covered it dutifully as fact, almost as if we were covering a typical president, creating an illusion which, while satisfying those who just want the news media to be stenographers, participates in a lie, corrupting journalism’s mission to inform.
Journalists haven’t yet figured out how to properly report on politics in American in 2018. News organizations report “fake news” because politicians are making fake news and their job is to report what politicians are doing. And what politicians are doing is distracting, misinforming, and deceiving the nation.
In the process, you become misinformed and uninformed, so perhaps Erik Hagerman, of Gloucester, Ohio, has the right idea.
Turn it all off. Tune it all out. Pay no attention to us. Pay no attention to them. At all.
Hagerman is arguably the most uninformed man in America, the New York Times reported over the weekend.
“I had been paying attention to the news for decades,” Hagerman said about his project to know nothing. “And I never did anything with it.”
He was a corporate type with Nike before he saved enough money to buy a former strip mine in Ohio, his native sod, and go out of his way to avoid anything happening in the world.
The Times’ reporter was only allowed to interview him if he agreed to bring no news of the outside world with him.
He makes Ohio sound like paradise.
Being a news consumer doesn’t enhance society, he says. So he created “the Blockade.”
He counts a few boats that have sailed past The Blockade. He saw a picture of Kim Jong-un on a newspaper at the coffee shop, signaling that something was up with North Korea. And he overheard someone saying something about Obamacare, which meant health care was back in the news. His brother alerted him to the Equifax breach for his own protection.
“But the blockade has been pretty damn effective,” Mr. Hagerman said.
He said that with some pride, but he has the misgivings about disengaging from political life that you have, by now, surely been shouting at him as you read. “The first several months of this thing, I didn’t feel all that great about it,” he said. “It makes me a crappy citizen. It’s the ostrich head-in-the-sand approach to political outcomes you disagree with.”
It seems obvious to say, but to avoid current affairs is in some ways a luxury that many people, like, for example, immigrants worried about deportation, cannot afford.
“He has the privilege of constructing a world in which very little of what he doesn’t have to deal with gets through,” said his sister, Bonnie Hagerman. “That’s a privilege. We all would like to construct our dream worlds. Erik is just more able to do it than others.”
He’s putting his energy into reclaiming the land, preserving it, and living on it. It’s penance for the moral cost of “the Blockade,” the Times says.
Related: Maybe voters aren’t as uninformed as elites like to think (Vox)