Is too much cable news making us sick?
UEast Greenbush ntil recently, Bill Bronk would head over to the YMCA four mornings a week and walk on a treadwhile mill watching MSNBC on one of the televisions hanging above the gym.
Bronk is still getting his exercise, only without the MSNBC. The East Greenbush Y no longer lets him — or anyone else in the gym — watch cable news on its shared televisions, a change Bronk finds unnecessary and irritating.
“If a person doesn’t like what’s on the TV, there are four others to choose from,” Bronk said. “Other people next to me watch Fox, others watch CNN, and we’ve never had a problem.”
The ban on Fox, MSNBC and CNN (but not local news) applies to all Capital District YMCA locations. The rumor around Bronk’s gym has it that the change resulted from a dispute between patrons at another location, which would
make the restriction another example of our hyper-partisan divide and how we just can’t get along.
But YMCA spokesperson Erin Breslin said the change wasn’t made because gym-goers were bickering, but because the organization decided cable news is unwelcoming and inconsistent with a focus on wellness. (The policy doesn’t apply to TVS directly attached to individual exercise machines.)
Breslin stressed that the policy is not new, although some locations have been slow to enforce it. In fact, the change was made just ahead of the 2016 election — in October, when the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape was dominating news coverage.
“We’re just asking people to step away from the 24-hour news cycle during their time with us,” Breslin said. “It’s just very negative and not at all welcoming.”
The Capital District YMCA isn’t alone in its decision. Life Time, a fitness chain with locations in the Upper Midwest, banned cable news in its gym earlier this year after deciding it was inconsistent with a “healthy way of life.”
There’s truth to that. After all, cable news seems less and less about providing accurate information and more and more about ginning up anger and outrage.
This was true before Donald Trump’s election, but the trend is getting worse. Watch the two anti-trump networks and you’ll be provided with one set of provocations to be furious about; watch the pro-trump network (hint: it rhymes with “box”) and you’ll get another.
The rise of cable news parallels the rise of the partisan anger that consumes our politics, which probably isn’t coincidental. The news as presented on Fox and MSNBC especially, but also on CNN, is largely about bias confirmation and bubble creation. The binary, left-versus-right, us-versus-them world of cable news has more in common with “Survivor” or “Keeping up with the Kardashians” that we’d like to think. So there’s a temptation to thank
Yet we can’t turn away. We’re the Capital District YMCA for hooked on the outrage-dopamine offering a respite from it all. And feedback loop, and the networks yet, there’s something patronizing are more than willing to feed our about an organization telling addiction while keeping us divided adult customers what they can and anxious. On cable, there and can’t watch. can never, ever “It’s like Big Brother,” said be a slow news Bronk, who finds the restriction day. both insulting and silly. “Every
Breaking station, no matter what they put news! Look at up there, there’s going to be something what Trump that upsets somebody.” did now!! (clicks That’s true. It isn’t as though to Fox) Liberal the rest of television networks are mobs are on the offering up a wholesome viewing attack! (clicks to diet.
MSNBC) Russia! Wanda Fischer, a former member Russia!! Russia!!! of the Guilderland Y, said
Trump has that when the location turned proven masterful off cable news, she subsequently at using the saw the following on its TVS: networks (CNN especially) as a a movie in which people were foil and manipulating coverage mowed down by a machine gunner; to his advantage. The focus of a “Dr. Phil” episode featuring cable news is always, always on a teenage drug addict who him alone, the rest of the world be was beating up his parents; and damned. Trump likes it that way. an endless array of soap operas, So do the networks. with all the lying and cheating
Ratings and revenue have been typical of the genre. up significantly since Trump’s Yuck. Being made to watch all electio n, which is good for the that while strolling on the treadmill networks but bad for our mental might cause even a MAGAHAT health or ability to think rational- wearing Trump lover to ask ly. We would be better off with less the following: “Can we pleeeeeeaze of it. (And less Facebook, too.) watch CNN?”
Ratings and revenue have been up significantly since Trump’s election, which is good for the networks but bad for our mental health or ability to think rationally. We would be better off with less of it. (And less Facebook, too.)
CNN journalist Jim Acosta does a standup before a news conference with Donald Trump in the White House. A YMCA spokesperson says cable news is inconsistent with a focus on wellness offered at the gym.