I’ve kicked my addiction to cable news. Maybe it wasn’t an addiction after all. Just a bad habit.
It’s like when I quit drinking four years ago. One day I woke up and found the taste of alcohol repulsive. (More on that later.) Same with cable news.
For more than a year, up until 10 days ago, I must have spent five or six hours a day switching between MSNBC and CNN. It’s always the same – the latest clip or tweet from the grotesque creature in the White House, followed by endless too-polite chatter confirming he’s an ignorant fool, corrupt to the core, and his party is evil.
It’s not as if they do anything.
I finally decided: No mas.
Maybe it was because I’d spent a pleasant three days going cold turkey with family over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
Or maybe because when the last of our visitors were gone, I turned on CNN and saw wind-whipped, rain-soaked reporters hyperventilating about the weather in Florida.
Or, maybe it was the denouement of the Kavanaugh farce.
Whatever the reason, it seemed hazardous to my health. I didn’t have the shakes. No withdrawal symptoms. I just starting filling my TV time with movies – watched Molly’s Game for the second time, bathed in Sorkin’s words – and baseball.
It was reminiscent of my break from booze, coming up on four years now, as I recount in my memoir, The Expat Files:
Just after my sixty-eighth birthday, in late November 2014, I gave up drinking. I hadn’t planned on it. Hadn’t taken the pledge. It just happened.
I was sick in bed for about a week. Not sure what was wrong. Linda checked my symptoms on the internet. I either had an intestinal flu, kidney failure, or cholera. Didn’t go to a doctor. Didn’t get a diagnosis.
When I came out of it, I felt okay. That evening, as was my habit, I poured a glass of red wine. Tasted awful. That was it. Not a drop since.
Same with cable news. I can’t imagine I’ll miss Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon, Nicolle Wallace or Rachel Maddow.
I know I’m not any less informed. I still check the headlines. Dig deeper when I feel the need.
Feel confident that when I send my absentee ballot to Maine – the last state where I lived in the U.S. – I know who I’m voting for and why: Angus King is a smart guy and deserves a return ticket to the Senate, and I hope to help get rid of the only red stain in the House from New England.
I’ll tune in on election night and watch the results. And, if the Dems win the House and/or the Senate, I’ll raise a glass – of Pellegrino – wishing them good luck in toppling the Orange One.
After that? Who knows. I know I’ve visited this territory before.
Right after the results of the 2016 election were in, I stopped watching the news on television and canceled my digital subscriptions to the Washington Post and New York Times.
I’ve appreciated their reporting since the election, absorbed the key elements of their scoops. But I haven’t missed the Times or the Post, since there was so little worth reading.
And my declaration of No Mas in 2017 was not an April Fool’s joke.
For me, it seems, American politics is a tougher habit to break than booze. I was thirteen when I was hooked on JFK in 1960 – a couple of years before I had my first drink.