In upstate New York, Travis Trudell got an alert on his phone Wednesday morning telling him the impeachment hearings had started. He turned on Disney Plus instead. In Wisconsin, Jerre Corrigan never considered watching. She spent the day giving a math lesson to third graders. In Idaho, Russell Memory worked a busy day as a computer programmer and figured he’d catch up in a few weeks when the hearings were over.
The Democrats in Congress took their case against President Trump to the public last week. But after hours of testimony, thousands of news reports and days of streaming headlines, one thing was clear: A lot of Americans weren’t listening.
“It’s harder now — they want to grab you with those headlines,” said Ms. Corrigan on Wednesday night from her home in Stevens Point, Wis. “Trump did this, Trump did that. You have to go in and really research it. And I don’t think a lot of people do that.”
She added of the hearing: “I just don’t know what to think. You would have to know the facts, and I don’t know that I’m getting the facts from the media right now.”
In this volatile political moment, information, it would seem, has never been more crucial. The country is in the midst of impeachment proceedings against a president for the third time in modern history. A high-stakes election is less than a year away.
But just when information is needed most, to many Americans it feels most elusive. The rise of social media; the proliferation of information online, including news designed to deceive; and a flood of partisan news are leading to a general exhaustion with news itself.
Add to that a president with a documented record of regularly making false statements and the result is a strange new normal: Many people are numb and disoriented, struggling to discern what is real in a sea of slant, fake and fact. [Continue reading…]