The media that you CAN trust
John O’Leary interviews Peter Montoya about his new book and asks about how the media has contributed to our division on issues, but not policy, and they discuss practical strategies on how you can become more mindful with your news consumption.
So as I was reading your book, I was also taking notes voraciously off to the side, a lot of really cool quotes. This is one that just jumped off at me because I think it’s one that most of our listeners are experiencing right now in their own lives.
We may not want to admit it, but we are experiencing this. So here it is. If you hate half of your fellow Americans and we have listeners tuning in from 75 different countries, but this is true not only within our nation, but beyond it.
If you hate half of America, you have become a pawn on someone else’s chessboard.
Yeah. So what the political actors have learned and also what the media has learned is the best way to sell more advertising is to get more eyeballs on their screens, whether it be a social media screen and someone scrolling or it’s a cable news channel in order to get more money in the coffers if you’re a politician.
And the best way to do that is by demonizing the other side, to scare them about the other side will get you more loyalty and you more money and you more attention at the cost of other people. So what I find really, really interesting is we’re not that divided.
There’s a lot of statistics in the book. So we give you one issue which is very divisive, and that’s abortion. And if you ask what are you pro-life or pro-choice? 46 percent of Americans say they are pro-life and 48 percent say they’re pro-choice.
You go, oh, my gosh, they’re so divided. But that’s when you ask it on a team level, which team are you in? However, when you ask Americans should abortion in some way be legal? 79 percent say that abortion should be in some degree legal in this country, and only 20 percent don’t.
So we’re really divided when we start talking about which team you’re on, which tribe you belong to. But we’re really not divided when it comes to policy. There, we largely agree. And that’s why I think I call this in the book The Stupidest Second Civil War.
I mean, it really is dumb. There is no clear dividing line.
So let’s talk about what is making it at least seem like a dividing line, which is in part the 24 hour news cycle. You said, John, I tuned out and I’m better because of it. So one of the ways that we can have a little bit less of that division going on within our communities, but also within our own minds and hearts, is to turn away from that cycle. Give us some ideas on how we can do exactly that, Peter. So you can actually go cold turkey. You will actually find it kind of amusing as you find yourself kind of yearning going out. It’s time for me to turn the news on. You’ll find these little instincts.
You’ll go. Those are kind of silly. You really think about it. And what I’ve noticed with my friends who have gone cold turkey is after 30 days, they are dramatically less anxious. They just feel better. And after 60 or 90 days, they don’t find the need to argue anymore with anybody.
And they actually kind of rise above it when they see people getting involved in political conversations. They kind of cockeyed look at it and go, wow, that’s silly. I used to do that. And now I don’t feel that hair trigger sense inside of you when someone says something that I’ve got to respond.
I’ve got to jump into a fight for my country. And you realize how petty and how inconsequential all those arguments really are.
So that’s what you go cold turkey. Some of our listeners are going to just a toe in the water. So if you’re looking for some news and you’re looking for reliable truth,
too, where do you look? Oh, geez. So that’s a tough question these days, because as soon as I start naming networks, people will automatically assign me to a given tribe right now.
Montoya says, I always watch Fox for my truth. You will know exactly where Montoya’s stands. And if he says, I watch MSNBC, you also will know where he stands. So, Peter, choose wisely, my friend. But where do you look?
It’s a really good question. So, first of all, I love I love long form journalism. So long form journalism can be. I love podcasts, by the way. I think the podcast medium is the great, greatest medium on the planet.
And so if you’re listening to a medium. First of all, I never listen to any medium where people are attacking or labeling other people. So if they are labeling, attacking other people, that is an automatic no to use slurs against other sides.
Even if it’s a descriptor like they’re an extremist, that’s a no go right there if they’re trying to do actually a tarnish or attack other Americans. I only want to hear people who are attacking ideas. You want to argue ideas and attack ideas, eligibility long.
And actually the to the wholesalers when it comes to news or Reuters and Associated Press. So you can go to Reuters, I don’t know if it’s ReutersNews.com, but Reuters and Associated Press, or AP.news, I can’t think of exactly what the URLs are.
You will find the wholesale stories that CNN buys, that FOX News buys, that MSNBC buys. Those are the wholesale stories that they buy, which then go feed the opinion news which generates all the controversy. So that is as close as you can get to what is we’ll call truth. It’s still biased.
Ultimately, truth is most likely written by the history professors, but not after 10 or 20 years and after a lot of lengthy discussion. So I really am a big believer that you should never believe what you think. All of my knowledge is temporary, pending new information.
I hold it very, very loosely. If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family. Click the link in the description below.