World War III came and went, and nobody noticed.
You didn’t know World War III happened? Then you must not have been on Facebook or Twitter the past few days. Critics of President Trump were expecting war following the targeted killing of the Iranian general famous for his own targeted killings.
The fastest-growing sport in America is social media judgment. No sooner does an event happen than Trump’s supporters erupt in cheers and his critics unleash a flood of apocalyptic predictions.
In this case, half my Facebook friends were waiting for World War III to start, for better or worse.
Did I participate in the contest? No. I just did what I normally do — posting pictures of my grandkids and making random comments while linking to other items in the news. This weekend I’ll probably post a couple of cat pictures.
My usual rule is that I don’t comment on national and international news events for 24 or 48 hours, sometimes longer. Why? Because first impressions are often wrong, and it takes time for background information to become known. Looking at an event without knowing its context can lead to misleading conclusions.
Those can be costly. If you need confirmation, ask CNN. Earlier this week, the network settled a lawsuit filed by Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington High School student who was branded as the textbook example of racist white privilege following a confrontation in Washington, D.C., last January.
CNN and other media outlets couldn’t wait to slam Sandmann, whose principal sin was wearing a “Make America Great Again” ball cap. A few days later the truth came out that Sandmann and his classmates were minding their own business when protestors approached them and got in their faces.
Sandmann’s attorney filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against CNN. Rather than take the case to trial, CNN settled out of court this week. As of this writing, the terms are unknown, but surely Sandmann and his lawyer are better off financially today than they were last week.
Sandmann’s lawyer has other defamation suits pending against The Washington Post and NBC Universal.
If you are emotionally invested in something, you don’t let a news event go to waste, no matter which side of the political divide you are on. This week I got caught up in the game myself when I heard of Ricky Gervais’ monologue at the Golden Globe awards. I’d been waiting a long time for Hollywood celebrities to get some of what they dish out, and this came face to face.
In my book, actors rank only above national media commentators on the list of people who have an undeservedly high opinion of their own opinions. I hope Gervais is booked to emcee the next big journalism awards gala.
When I heard the news about the general’s death, did I expect war to break out? I honestly didn’t know what would happen. I had no inside information. All I could do was trust the president and his advisers to know what they were doing. I shut out the noise of the first few days and waited for events to play out.
As this is written, things seem to have cooled in the Trump-Iran standoff. The missiles that were fired at the base in Iraq did little damage to American interests, and they allowed the regime in Iran to save face. I hope that’s how this round of the 40-year conflict between the U.S. and Iran ends.
Meanwhile, I’ll save my instant analysis for whatever snarky comments I can make about management of the Cincinnati Bengals.