WASHINGTON. “If you are distressed by anything external,” wrote Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, “the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
But in today’s America, noble stoicism is in short supply. Especially among the elites of American journalism.
“Jerry, just remember: It’s not a lie if you believe it”
Take CNN’s Brian Stelter. He’s the little nebbish who looks, sounds, and acts very much like the character George Costanza from the popular 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld.” Stelter, you see, is terribly “distressed” by two external forces: President Donald Trump and the coronavirus.
He claims the White House response to the Chinese flu is seriously flawed, as is Trump’s call for America’s return to work.
Overcoming the media’s negative spin
On his CNN show “Reliable Sources,” Stelter threw a hissy fit over the president’s coronavirus briefings,
“The former reality-show star [Trump] tells a story about American resilience. What he lacks in empathy for the dead he makes up for in his insistence that the country will come back stronger than ever.
“Now, all self-promoters are good storytellers. And Trump might be the best of them all. He is the hero of his own story. He casts different villains everyday: Democrats, immigrants, journalists, etc.
“So, all of us, whether you’re a member of the media or a US voter or you’re a citizen of another country watching us live on CNN International, all of us have to see it for what it is. These are storytelling sessions. These are infomercials more than accurate sources of information.”
But a recent survey by the ABC-News-affiliated polling organization FiveThirtyEight only serves to fan the fires of Stelter’s fears. Trump’s approval ratings for his handling of the Chinese pandemic stands at 86.4 percent among Republicans, 43.1 percent with Independents, and 16.9 percent for Democrats.
Stelter’s fear, you see, has more to do with the president’s positive overshadowing of the media’s pessimistic fearmongering.
His little head spins at the thought of Americans stampeding back to work starting May 1, trampling on the bleached bones of the media’s end-of-the-world forecasts – not the memory of those who perished in a time of Wuhan plague.
For Stelter and his cynical media fellows, these dead serve as mere background props for their low-rated newscasts. And he employs the dead as cudgels against the President. But they, in turn, serve as menacing phantoms to stoke his childish fears.
And so, Stelter took to Twitter in search of solace:
“Last night, I hit a wall. Gutted by the death toll. Disturbed by the govt’s shortcomings. Dismayed by the political rhetoric that bears no resemblance to reality… I crawled in bed and cried for our pre-pandemic lives. Tears that had been waiting a month to escape.”
I crawled in bed and cried for our pre-pandemic lives. Tears that had been waiting a month to escape.
I wanted to share because it feels freeing to do so. Now is not a time for faux-invincibility. Journos are living this, hating this, like everyone else. https://t.co/dIDujZZvQZ
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) April 18, 2020
Stelter’s tears are no doubt real.
But they are born of frustration that the media’s deranged, anti-Trump narratives are falling flat. But Stelter’s waterworks gives some clarity in diagnosing the demons that drive the immovable object of the mainstream media to a state of madness when confronted by the unstoppable force called Trump.
Trump represents the essence of stoicism.
As defined by the good folks at the Daily Stoic,
“Stoicism doesn’t concern itself with complicated theories about the world, but with helping us overcome destructive emotions and act on what can be acted upon. It’s built for action, not endless debate.”
Or whining, for that matter.
What’s that rushing sound?
Sequestered in our homes and glued to our flatscreen TVs, we’ve seen ad nauseam displays of panic and saccharin, tear-drenched reporting from the media concerning the coronavirus pandemic.
All the while an upbeat President Trump and his fellow Americans prepare for a time of transition and triumph.
“We built the greatest economy in the world,” said President Trump, “I’ll do it a second time.”
And on that bright day, a sound will roar louder than the cataracts of Niagara. It will be the down-rush of tears from our self-emasculated media.
Top Image: Brian Stelter on his CNN show “Reliable Sources.” CNN screen capture.