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Slouching toward understanding

Deep Breath

It's time we take a moment before we react.

Part of the ritual of an annual checkup is when the physician warms the bell of the stethoscope, presses it to your lower back and intones the words "Deep breath." It's high time we take that phrase as a mantra for how we approach what's going on around us and in the world in general these days.

It is far too easy today to read something on the internet, hear something on the radio or watch something on TV and have a visceral reaction that makes us want to post a comment or a screed before we've had a chance to process the information or before all the facts are on the media table. There have been two stories in recent days that are prime examples of what happens when we let ourselves get ahead of the facts.

Last week BuzzFeed published a story that indicated that there was proof that 45* had instructed his "fixer" to lie to congress. The article cited two unnamed sources and raised quite a stir over the following days. We still don't know the actual voracity of the report and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has disputed the claim. That didn't keep the national media from making the item the number one story for days. No one took a deep breath.

The other story with similar impact was the early analysis of a viral video of the confrontation in DC between a tribal elder and a teenage boy from Kentucky. Once again the media jumped on the story without letting the facts get in the way. Days later, after more video emerged and more stories were collected, the initial reports appear to have gotten it wrong.

We are stuck in a period of the 24 hour news cycle. I am old enough to remember the days of the three network news shows and the calm voices that shared the stories of the day without color or bias. Old enough and lucky enough. My Dad worked at CBS. I sat in Murrow's office chair. When Dad moved to ABC to run the news department I had first hand experience with the people who reported what was happening from space shots to elections. Things were as frantic then as they are now but there was time to breathe.

So what do we do now? Don't stop reading. Don't stop ingesting the news. But take your time in distilling it. Read the other side. Listen to other's arguments. Be slow to react and - more importantly - be slow to anger.

In short, deep breath.
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