It's my fault, I know.
But in the aftermath of a hip operation that for good measure resulted in a broken leg, I've been confined to my basement rec room where I read and write — and I've got cable news running incessantly in the background.
It's been an experience that helps explain why people I know who do this regularly always seem to be a little spacey. Since I can't stomach the made-up stories and alternative "facts" that run on Fox News (believe me, I've tried), it's typically been CNN.
I've learned that one of the tricks that cable news uses to justify hour after hour of repeating the same stories is that they just use different hosts and guests to put their own takes on those same stories.
I get the impression, though, that it's easier for these talking heads to fill all that air space now that Donald Trump and his entourage are in the White House.
Wednesday this week was a godsend for these cable talkers. First there were Trump's tweets about him having a bigger nuclear button on his desk than North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Former security and intelligence "experts" talked about how terrible such talk was while GOP congressmen appeared to defend "tough talk" to "keep America safe."
But it wasn't long before a bigger bombshell hit (tweets are becoming old hat, it appears). The Guardian had obtained excerpts from a new book that quotes Trump's longtime enabler and enforcer Steven Bannon. The perennially disheveled Bannon (I'm not sure he doesn't sleep on Capitol Square at night) suggested that Donald Jr. ought to be charged with treason for meeting with the Russians during the campaign last year.
That set the news people and the dozens of "commentators," who range from politicians from either party to washed-up political advisers, into high gear and then into overdrive when Trump issued an over-the-top rejoinder that claimed Bannon had lost his mind and, despite having been extremely close to the president during the campaign and the first several months of his administration, was really a low-level character who really never had much influence.
And that brings me to the highlight of my CNN watching — the daily White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who, remarkably, outdoes even her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, in defining political sleaze.
On this day, Huckabee Sanders, who admittedly has the awful job of explaining Trump, nevertheless seconded the lie that, yes, Bannon never was much of a factor. She conveniently forgot that Trump took the unprecedented step of putting Bannon, his chief political adviser, on the National Security Council to the dismay of intelligence officials and then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
But what's really hilarious about Huckabee Sanders is her near-daily lecturing of the assembled reporters that the White House is tired of the untrue stories from the press about the administration. On Wednesday, she once again claimed in answering a question that the administration doesn't complain about its critics, only about reporters who use "fake" facts in their stories.
"You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts," she puffed, and then walked off.
This from the spokeswoman for a habitual liar who pronounces his own false facts at the rate of about five a day, including one the day before when he said he was responsible for there being no commercial airline crashes in 2017 — ignoring the fact that there haven't been any crashes since 2009. Someone suggested that he'll claim credit for the sun rising tomorrow morning.
I can't wait till this darn leg gets better.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. email@example.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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