Perhaps it's part of recovery from depression; perhaps it's a sign I haven't really recovered--I dunno. But these days I find it tough to read the news. Scooter Libby gets convicted, and I am outraged at the exposure of the reporting practices of my former colleagues in the news business (the underlying message behind the whole trial being the game in which high-ranking administration officials leak things they shouldn't be talking about to reporters carefully selected for their willingness to "spin" stories a particular way, and the reporters' willingness to be used in this way in exchange for scoops--when, that is, they report the leaks at all, and I don't know which is worse). It's an outrage fed by my own experience of reporting in Washington, which tells me that 99.9 percent of all reporters, Seymour Hersch and Charlie Peters being notable exceptions, firmly believe this is the only way to get the news. At the same time, I am utterly depressed at the spectacle of high-ranking Bush administration officials so clearly less concerned about the truth of whether Iraq was in possession of WMDs than they were about whether they could get the public to believe Iraq had WMDs.
So I put down my newspaper and go online and read a funny piece in Salon by Garrison Keillor about parents who practically hire interior design firms to help their third-graders with their book report dioramas--and then run across a letter in response that speaks of kids "whacked out on Ritalin"--which, since my own daughter suffers from ADD, brings up painful memories of the neighbor who last Christmas made a snarky comment about my daughter's supposed unreliability, serving as a potent reminder of the kind of prejudice that my daughter is, unfortunately, already far too aware of. So much for comic relief.
So then I check my e-mail and run across an article about the long-term effects of psychological torture, in Common Dreams , which features a picture of a section of the barbed wire fence at Guantanamo--a place which will, in my opinion, go down in history as a far worse blot on America's legacy than our forced internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.
And it's all so painful. Is it me, just seeing the bad stuff? Is it the standard definition of news, which posits that it's only news if something goes wrong? Is it the journalists, and the stories they aren't reporting--the foster care program somewhere that works, some new advance in making solar power affordable for the masses, the discovery of some bird thought to be extinct?
I don't know. All I know is that tonight I am looking forward to popping a beer and watching "American Idol."