What do these top two Google headlines have in common?
“‘I was going to get this over with’: Inside Giuliani’s explosive Stormy Daniels revelation…Rudolph W. Giuliani said President Trump personally repaid his lawyer the $130,000 that was used to buy Stormy Daniels’s silence about an alleged affair.” -Washington Post
“A serial pooper targeted a N.J. high school track. It was a nearby school superintendent.” -Washington Post
They both refer to excrement, literally or figuratively. The entire Stormy Daniels debacle is arguably the steamiest pile of crap because of what happened, who it happened to, and how it’s been handled. It’s also by far the most important and newsworthy—and not just so much because it shows Trump’s adulterous nature. It’s vitally important because: a) it shows another pile of lies stacked on already voluminous prevarications; b) it shows the utter incompetence and even incoherence of those tied to this White House.
As for the principal, other than our voracious appetite for the sensational (which I’m obviously feeding into by re-referencing it here), why did this story command the second position on Google News? Well, there’s your answer—sensationalism. It’s nothing new and it’s not going away.
This is fine except for one major flaw: We often sensationalize issues and incidents that really aren’t that important or are even trivial in the bigger scheme of the news items that merit the most gravitas to the population as a whole—education, public safety, et al.
The biggest lightning rod, of course, for triviality is Trump. While there are extremely serious stories impacting the welfare of this nation and the world, look at how much coverage is devoted to the relatively trivial Trump matters. (I’ll leave it to you to determine what is and is not trivial in your world.)
Decades ago, before the proliferation of information channels and forums via such innovations as cable TV, digital communications and social media, news spread most widely and quickly through major media. Space and time to report the news were finite. So, while sensationalism certainly found its way into the mix, there wasn’t the bandwidth to cover every interest, niche, or occurrence as there is now.
In today’s world, a pooping principal shows up at the top of the headlines, along with the latest Trump fiasco. For the vast majority of us, the latter story is much more meaningful and revealing.
But, that’s the world we live in. The fact that just about every cause and concern can get aired one way or another is not the problem. The problem is how We the People perceive relative importance. The latest contract for already-overpaid NFL babies or the latest celebrity-related personal drama can be as prominent as stories that are arguably much, much more important to our survival and quality of life.
Therein lies the rub. These, to most, less important stories get this prominence because we call for it. And why do “We” call for it? Because, generally speaking, we have it much easier in this country than much of the rest of the world. It’s kind of like retired people having too much idle time—so they begin to mirror Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window,” when he starts the relatively unimportant practice of spying on his neighbors while laid up in a leg cast. (Of course, movie buffs, this does become rightfully much more important after Raymond Burr murders his wife across the courtyard.)
Until this nation gets off its collective butt and starts investing itself more in what’s truly important to our future, not just their special interests, we’re going to continue seeing more debacles like Trump and the existing Congressional constituency.
As I’ve said frequently, “We the People” are responsible for the abomination that exists inside the Beltway.
What are we gonna do about it? And when? Stay tuned.
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark has voted for Democrats, Republicans and a Libertarian in presidential elections going back 30 years. As the owner of a 34-year-old, Denver-based marketing communications firm, he is a political malcontent who often quips support for “Thunder the Wonder Puppy” as a presidential candidate. (Too bad George Carlin is no longer among us to make a run—although he likely would have known better.)