Dear Cable News:
In recent weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with some hard working public servants on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. I also just returned from the Milken Institute Global Conference where thought leaders from around the world talked about the difficult challenges facing America. The good news is that there are many, many smart people out there who believe that while some of the problems our nation faces are difficult to say the least, they are solvable. The bad news is that the political climate has become so toxic that good people who care deeply about this country, but who have honest intellectual differences about how to solve our nation’s problems, risk personal and political vilification every time they try to reach across the aisle or share an idea that actually might make sense.
We have an untenable environment for honest problem solving and, quite frankly, cable news is doing nothing but making it worse (and the networks/other news outlets aren’t much better). You share meaningless polling data, give air time to whomever is willing to be the most outrageous, and provide a platform for attacking people rather than their ideas. You’re serving a 24-7 multiple course meal of political red meat, which you’ve “super-sized” in recent years, and not surprisingly, we’re feeling the impact on our nation’s health. You’ve been a willing accomplice to drawing political lines in the sand that have made it all but impossible for serious people to agree on sensible solutions for the country. Worse yet, you discourage good people from entering into public service at a time when we need all the good people we can get!
It’s a bit like the boiling frog syndrome. Put a frog in water, turn up the heat gradually, and the frog will eventually boil alive. I suggest it’s time to turn down the heat, or this country risks suffering the same fate. I know it’s not sexy. I realize that more people watch Fox News than C-SPAN, but our country faces serious problems and you can actually make a positive contribution to the dialogue. We need a media which seeks to inform rather than frighten and anger. I believe your viewers and your sponsors would appreciate it and, even more importantly, you could give our leaders a chance to do the serious work we elected them to do.
I want to thank the hard-working staffers and elected officials in Washington, the amazing people I met at the Milken Institute Global Conference, and the numerous small business leaders/Vistage members and Chairs for everything they do to make our country better. They’ve inspired me to draft this short post, which by itself may be meaningless, but if others agree with me, then maybe they’ll write to you as well. I hope they do, and I hope you pay attention.