Opinion

Roach: We have lost truth

America is dysfunctional as it has ever been

It is best if this piece begins with an apology.
 
To all my friends, both real and virtual, I profess my deepest apologies for going nuts on Facebook the last few months. It’s been a problem. 
 
To solve a problem, you must first understand it.
 
The truth, and my excuse, is that I was hit by the perfect storm. In the fall of this year, just as Donald Trump emerged as the most colorful presidential candidate in modern history, I was recovering from the Gift of Titanium awarded to my right knee, damaged by being a mediocre football player, fat jogger and angry golfer. 
 
Housebound during my recovery, I turned to my favorite escape: books. But the meds used to handle the pain made it difficult to focus on plot and character, so television and Facebook became default companions. Television raised my political frustration and Facebook became the platform to voice it. 
 
Facebook has justified detractors. But I’m a fan. It feels like a tavern to me. It’s allowed me to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, and make new virtual ones. And it is welcoming to a writer because you can compose a message that is longer than 140 characters. 
 
But my apology isn’t for being on Facebook, but rather for crossing a line many don't. I started posting about politics. Worse yet, I have done it often and pointedly.
 
I realized it was a real problem at Christmas, when my three children gave me a bound collection of some of my most acerbic posts.
 
It was a sobering read.
 
For a time, I moderated my usage, concerned that I was offending true friends who were either Trump supporters or apolitical. But then I got that chest thing that’s been going around, so the doc put me on steroids to settle things. If you have never taken prednisone, just imagine drinking 19 cups of coffee washed down with 14 Five-Hour Energy Drinks each day for 10 days straight. 
 
So back into Facebook I dove, to the point of obsession, but also out of duty, because, drugs aside, it's time to stand up.
 
I purposely began to visit hard right sites that were havens for the most dedicated Trump supporters to learn, listen, engage, debate, argue and admittedly, insult.  
 
And here is what I think after descending into that black hole. 
 
We have lost truth. As a result, America is as dysfunctional as it has ever been. And there is a reason. Sure, CNN is limp, and The New York Times and The Washington Post lean left. But they are not, in the words of our Accuser in Chief, “the enemy of the American people.” The real enemy of the people is the far right media who are making money off the fear, paranoia and vulnerability of the angry, frustrated and gullible. 
 
I hate no one. But there is a special place in hell for the media entities who profit by creating angry fiction from a grain of truth to the detriment of our nation, solely to pad their wallets.
 
And I’m not talking important, responsible conservatives like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Brit Hume, Charlie Sykes and other smart, right thinkers. We need their reason to challenge crazy liberal excesses like the madness recently on display at Middlebury College.
 
No, I am calling out the hucksters. I’m lookin’ at you Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Breitbart News Network, Fox & Friends, Alex Jones and the up-and-coming Tomi Lahren. These are the ones who have given Lost America its angry, irrational script. It’s how our national relationship has become littered with words like “libtard,” “Killery” and “Obummer.” Mindless memes that stop sane, respectful discussion dead in its tracks. They have been pumping toxic, factless rhetoric into our political water supply, and Donald Trump is the muck that has come running out.
 
The result? We are now a nation with no shared fact. Every day Trump attacks the concept of truth and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. What kind of leader does that?
 
Though I lean left of center, I have proudly voted for Republicans Scott Klug, Tommy Thompson, Mark Green and George H.W. Bush. But here’s the thing—Trump is no Republican. 
 
He is a tweeting anarchist, who could well crater the Republican Party, if not our country, for years.
 
Ugh. Look at me. I started out apologizing for talking politics, and here I am going off again.
 
But you know what? I take it back.
 
When it comes to challenging this president, I make no apology at all.
 
Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Reach him at johneroach@mac.com. 

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