Let’s talk about reading

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I’m a reader. You’re here, so you are too. So what do you read? Fiction, news, techie stuff, entertainment, sports? I once was a voracious reader of fiction. Not so much anymore. My morning ritual is coffee, ham and eggs and The Wall Street Journal. The print edition, the one that lands in my driveway. The rest I read online.

I’m a hard news guy, front page stuff, police beat, what the governments are up to, science discoveries, news of the unusual. Some sample odd news headlines: Rio Olympics bathroom sign bans fishing in toilets; Deceased man’s wife, girlfriend post dueling obits in same paper; Maine police officer to cows: ‘Don’t run from me, I’m the police’; Mystery clown creeps out Green Bay with late-night sightings; China’s first traffic-straddling elevated bus goes for a test drive. That sort of thing.

So my search for news starts with what I call the latest stuff: What really big things happened while I slept? Here are my online bookmarks and the order in which I usually scan them.

First is Drudge, the classic version. The guy loves hard news. And he’s the best headline writer now living. Best as in “effective, eye-catching, must read that.” He’s taken the Trump train this year, and goes off the rails from time to time, but interspersed with the Trump pumps and the Hillary prosecutions, there’s still the always interesting headlines, gleaned from English-language sites across the globe.

Second, for me, is Fox News. It gives the orthodox conservative take on the day’s political news, and provides a less-shrill take on this summer’s politics.

Third is what has become the Clinton News Network, otherwise known as CNN. Its contempt for Trump and its desperate shilling for the Hil’ is palpable, but it is a good counterweight for Drudge excesses. Also it’s hard to beat for its far-flung network of reporters for breaking hard news: earthquakes, terror attacks, etc. Otherwise I just scan it and can it.

Fourth click is USA Today. It’s good on breaking news, considers at least one sports story worthy of top news placement every day, and provides the orthodox center-left point of view in its news judgment. It still strives for some objectivity in its news writing — not often successful, but often attempted. Plus, with the virtual demise of Sports Illustrated, it’s the only place I can get Top 25 college football standings quickly and reliably.

Next is the AJC. I know, I know. But they crib from their hard-breathing news sister, WSB-TV, and occasionally do some good stuff, like the expose of that north Georgia judge and DA who teamed up to put a newspaper publisher (and his lawyer!) behind bars for filing an open records request. And for a reliably liberal slant on state politics, Political Insider Jim Galloway. The guy has what we used to call a deep Rolodex and has been doing this politics beat for a long time. Often interesting, and occasionally surprising.

Next I take a hard left turn into the lib-progressive site, Politico, where never a discouraging word is heard about the Man who was going to reverse the rise of seas, and where you get as determined a “yes, but” spin on Hillary as you will find anywhere. And get used to its take on her opponent: on Politico, Trump is the End Of Western Civilization As We Know It. But, it’s worth keeping an eye on its confetti parade of liberal hosannas just to see who’s in and who’s out on the left side.

Deep breath. A calming cup of Eight O’Clock Colombian Highlands coffee. Now for the best political site on the planet: Real Clear Politics. Every morning, a bushy-tailed intern army scouts the overnight output of every major (and some minor) newspaper and news website in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. to post pro and con, liberal, conservative, progressive and libertarian opinions about whatever political is being talked about in that news cycle. I’m currently looking at the most timely opinions from (in this order) The New York Times (on the left), the Federalist (on the right), Huffington Post (left), New York Post (right), The Hill (centrist), The National Interest (“foreign policy realism”), City Journal (center right), Paul Krugman (NYT again), American Thinker (center right), Vox (left), National Review Online (right).

That’s just the afternoon cycle. The morning edition featured 17 pros and cons and four pro and con newspaper editorials. Plus the site is famous for its RCP Poll Average and latest battleground state polls.

Next, it’s almost a U-turn it’s so hard left. It’s The Daily Beast. And I almost always read at least one story from its lineup of lefties. They are savagely good at preaching the Gospel of Government, but their lineup ranges wide across sports, entertainment and the arts. And occasionally — just often enough to keep me coming back — the Beast will shock me with a really good, common sense but counter-intuitive take on one of the hot issues of the day. It reminds me of that New Testament quote from Jesus, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” That’s a gold standard “attaboy.”

Three or four days out of seven, I’ll detour to the progressive oasis of Slate, see what they are ranting about today, see if they have any interesting off-beat pieces and very rarely see a glint of light from the site, like a polished diamond nearly buried in a muddy pool. But it’s far away, and there’s so much … stinky mud-like stuff … between me and that tiny sparkle.

So I emerge from that lefty pool like a man rising from the sea depths, thirsty for air, just real, plain, solid, common sense air.

All those Kool-Aid pitchers, left, right and in between, and I sampled them all. Before I shower and dress for work. My morning menu.

Echo chamber indeed.

Fiction? I can’t pull myself away from the real thing, the politics of life.

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]