Thursday night. Fire at the Marine Corps barracks in New York City. Murder on the Jersey Shore. A plane with no pilot crashes into a house in Florida.
It was all happening on the same day, and some members of the news media decided to cover the news in a way that — not long ago — they would have run (and not mentioned) with a story like that: emergency vehicles, helicopters and police cars plastered on the screen, as if the public needed to see proof of the dangers we face.
Doing so — balancing the imperative to share information in an emergency against the desire not to alarm viewers — means trying to play the watcher or reader along on the route of reality. And that can be really challenging in this day and age.
The challenge becomes particularly hard, by choice, when the object of the news is President Trump and his often outrageous comments, without some significant basis in fact.
In some cases the debates about war and peace can amount to which side is right and how to keep them from renewing conflicts, or whether we should engage with China over Taiwan or not. But after days of escalating the controversy with unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about his opponents, how much news coverage is left to offer of the facts and experiences of the voters?