N and I were watching a series, and there was a newscast momentarily appearing in the show. The newscaster said something utterly anodyne.
“She’s lying,” I immediately thought. This reaction wasn’t suggested by the TV show’s plot. It was suggested by my experiences with the US media in the past year or so. A year ago, I’d see this scene and automatically assume that the newscaster is reporting something that really happened. Now I automatically – and I’m sure often erroneously – assume the report is a lie.
I know this feeling. I grew up with it. It’s not a pleasant feeling. The cynicism of always suspecting everybody of being a liar and knowing that every source of news is only and always about duping you is a burden.
I talked to some older friends and they shared their childhood memories of what the New York Times meant to them when they were little kids in the 1940s, watching their dads unfold the paper on a Sunday morning. They still think every word the paper publishes is true.