I haven’t written much in the six weeks since an electoral earthquake struck, crowning Donal Trump as the president-elect leaving in its wake a country littered with stunned progressives and shocked liberals? I don’t aim to play the blame game. The fact is, Hillary should have won, and if she’d run a less tone-deaf, better campaign, more open, less defensive, she would have. We can Blame Putin, Comey, fake news, Wikileaks and anyone else we want to, but no. This was hers to lose. And she did. End of rant.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to dive into the first of several articles I’ll be posting over the next few weeks to share with you the news sources, television series, movies and books that I think are essential to either fire up or comfort people, like me, afflicted with Post Election Trauma Syndrome (PETS). Our best weapon is to stay vigilant and informed. About everything: foreign policy, immigration, privacy, due process, environmental and energy affairs, social safety nets, hate crime, violence, the alt-right, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Therefore, in this first post, I’d like to share with you my daily required reading regimen, all guaranteed fake-news free. These are sources I’m likely to Tweet about or share on my Facebook timeline. Yes, they’re partisan for the most part, but I do not believe in living in a bubble. Bubbles do not serve us on the left very well–no more so than they do on right. And Susan Sarandon can be as cringe-worthy as Kellyanne Conway.
So, although not listed here, I think it’s critical to know your adversary, you have read (reasonable) opposition opinions. I don’t mean read Breitbart (well, okay, I do occasionally take a peek–you do too, right?) or watch Fox News, but read extensively well-sourced, non-talking-points opinion from the other side: The National Review, The Wall Street Journal, for example. I’ve probably left out your favorites, but feel free to add in the comments below!
I have the app on my phone and it’s the first thing I read in the morning. Caveat: You get 10 free articles per month without at least a digital subscription. But it’s well worth the money to get the online edition, as the Times should be part of your essential arsenal in the age of Trump.
I read the day’s briefing section first, then the opinion pages: editorials, and then all the regular columnists (whether I agree with them or not). Charles Blow, Gail Collins (I love her dry humor), Roger Cohen, Nicholas Kristoff (his understanding of the world is compassionate and intelligent), are all among my daily reading in the Times.
During the campaign season, one of my favorite columnists became David Brooks, a conservative, whose perspective on the Trump candidacy was enlightening and unexpected. I don’t agree with him often, but I learned to respect his viewpoint and arguments. I am incredibly curious whether Brooks will adapt to Trump as so many conservatives have, embracing him despite the potential damage his presidency will wreak on the U.S.
Paul Krugman was an indefatigable Hillary supporter (so much so that during the primaries I began sometimes disregard him because he didn’t see her flaws as sharply as he saw Bernie Sanders’s flaws.) My beef with Krugman applies to a whole lot of progressive politicos (politicians and commentators) who were all Hillary-or-bust. They should have seen the coming catastrophe, but didn’t (or were in some sort of group denial). I began to rely more on Robert Reich as my go-to guy on economics. But Krugman remains for me must-read every time he publishes a new piece. I look forward to reading his take on Trump-o-nomics and tearing it limb from limb. But I can see him (and Reich) embracing genuinely innovative ideas coming out of the administration on infrastructure.
Thomas Friedman has a point of view on geopolitics and world economics with which I don’t always agree, but his arguments should always be consumed. Especially in the Trump-World to come, and especially on trade.
I started reading the Post daily during the election season. Like the Times, you are limited in the number of articles you can access in a given month. The Post has an app (for a small charge per month), which is well worth the fee, and the D.C. political coverage is second to none. And, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to keep close tabs on whatever is happening in the nation’s capital for the next (hopefully only) four years. The Washington Post has some of the best political commentators out there of all stripes (and too numerous to list here). Some write weekly (or more frequent columns); some write monthly pieces for the Post. You can find a list of the regular columnists here, including blurbs about their coverage. You should read all of them religiously (yes, even Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol).
Read your local newspaper daily as well. Mine is the Chicago Tribune. I strongly believe that one of the problems the Democrats have had over the years is in failing to build a strong bench at the state and local level. Conservatives started back in the early 2000s, if not earlier in peppering everything from school boards to town councils and state legislatures with ideologically pure foot soldiers, something I we progressives have missed badly. We all need to do a better job staying informed on our own cities and state capital.
Israel’s left-center English language newspaper is my favorite (and the best) source of balanced news reporting in the Middle East, especially as it pertains to Israel. Excellent reporting, provocative opinion columns, some very far to the left, others centrist (and even right center).
Beyond the Newspaper Sites
It’s a partisan site, but well written news and commentary. When a news story breaks, I generally go to this site (especially the Newswire section) to get the left-leaning take from solid writers with generally good reporting and reasoned arguments.
Vox is a relative newcomer, and it isn’t as prolific as some of the other sites, but it’s pedigree is excellent and under the leadership founders Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias, who are about as smart and knowledgeable as anyone writing about politics. The analysis is excellent, and I’ll share just about anything from this great site.
An arm of the Center for American Progress, Think Progress is a good source of analysis with a decidedly progressive point of view.
Daily Kos is pretty hit or miss. Some hyperbole, lots of intramural arguing. It used to be my go-to site during the Bush 43 administration, but I tend to go there after I’ve hit all the other sites when news of import breaks.
Unfortunately, we liberal folk have our share of fake and hyperbolic news sites too. Online rags like the Bi-Partisan Report should be taken with several grains of salt. So if a hyperbolic new story appears on your Facebook timeline or on your Twitter feed, before you make it go viral, check it out at Snopes or simply Google it. If it’s not corroborated by the mainstream media think a long time before sharing it.
You probably could have guessed, but I’m an MSNBC devotee. I tend to like reasoned debate rather than preachiness. I even listen to Morning Joe (yeah, he has an ego the size of Alaska). Mostly it’s on as I write, partially as white noise, and partially to follow any truly breaking news. (Is anyone else annoyed by “breaking” news that really isn’t?) I’m pretty critical of some of the hosts: Joy Reid is very, very partisan and intolerant of those who do not share her specific view of American politics. I was tempted to throw shoes at the screen the way she lit into Bernie Sanders almost continually while touting Hillary Clinton throughout the primaries.
Mainly, I like the evening shows. Rachel Maddow is brilliant and insightful, I love Chris Hayes. He is intelligent, and his interviews are always excellent. Lawrence O’Donnell is a bit too self-important and self-righteous, but when he gets it, he really does. Chris Matthews, if he would just stop interrupting his guests and let them talk (except to call out talking points, lies, and hype), I’d like him better. But I enjoy the pace of his show, which is the complete opposite of Rachel Maddow’s slow deliberate unfolding of her first segment story.
I still mourn the passage of the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart’s Daily show. But at least we have the f-ing brilliant John Oliver on HBO Sunday nights and Bill Maher on HBO Friday nights (except when they’re on break–come back John and Bill, quickly!)
So that’s my take. I’ve skipped some of the obvious (magazines like Time and Newsweek), but beyond that, I know I’ve missed a lot, so please add your favorite news sources to the comments section either here–or Tweet me @B_Barnett.
My next piece will cover cautionary tales and comfort food on screens large and small. So stay tuned!