- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2017

Americans pine to be well informed. But there’s a price to pay. New research from the American Psychological Association finds that majorities of the chronically over-informed public are stressed — “experiencing anxiety, anger and fatigue” — and the news media plays a role in it. Even tracking the news itself is a stressful event for the majority of the public, the study found.

“Looking at Americans’ news consumption and social media habits can provide some insight into why the state of our nation and its uncertain direction have become such significant sources of stress. Americans care about staying informed, with most (95 percent) saying they follow the news regularly and 82 percent saying they check the news at least once each day. For nearly one in 10 Americans (9 percent), a news check-in at least every hour is the norm, and one in five Americans (20 percent) say they check their social media constantly, a significant increase from the 17 percent in 2016 who reported such use,” the study notes.

“For many Americans, news consumption has a downside. More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) say that while they want to stay informed about the news, doing so causes them stress. Further, many Americans (72 percent) say the media blows things out of proportion.”

Indeed. The press always appears to be at fever pitch for two reasons. One, the primarily liberal-leaning news media has become increasingly shrill as they seek to offset the political failures of the Democratic Party in 2016. And two, all news organizations now must race to maintain their core audiences, often through speed of delivery and provocative headlines.

The old school “big picture” coverage of a previous era has been replaced by non-stop crisis and outrage, perhaps prompting Arthur C. Evans — CEO and executive vice president of the psychological organization — to advise the public to be “intentional and thoughtful” about how much news they take in.

There’s a certain amount of fear culture at work here as well. Are Americans really that jittery? The group’s study also revealed that the public is not all that stressed by some of the authentically scary stuff out there — such as international war, crime, terrorism, mass shootings, high taxes, precarious social security, trust in government and “government controversies and scandals.” The research found that between 25 percent and 34 percent of respondents cited these factors as stressful.

Mull over a few more numbers from the research in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

A GRACIOUS MOMENT

“I think she’s done a lovely job. She’s a beautiful woman. She’s a wonderful representative for the United States.”

— Former first lady Laura Bush, speaking of current first lady Melania Trump, to CNN.

KEN STARR EXPLAINS ‘THE LINE’

The news media continues to dwell on the Russian collusion matter, fixating on minutiae, conflicting reports, confusing details and effective distractions. As Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, some wonder about President Trump’s spirited use of tweets to weigh in on the daily episodes, recently suggesting that the Justice Department should investigate “Crooked Hillary and the Dems.”

Is Mr. Trump “crossing the line” with his candor? ABC’s “This Week” moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Sunday.

“With regard to the president’s public comments, there are separate questions of crossing the line in terms of protocol, in terms of morality and ethics, and law. I think that it doesn’t cross the line yet. People are asking, isn’t this obstruction, what the president is doing? And isn’t he improperly speaking out? The answer is that, improper — I think that’s pretty clear. When it comes to the implications for the Justice Department, I think it would have to be an order or a directive for it to really become a real legal issue,” suggested ABC’s legal analyst Dan Abrams.

Mr. Stephanopoulos turned to Ken Starr, who served as independent special counsel during the investigation of former President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

“Is the president getting close to the line?” the moderator asked.

“No. He’s just spouting off,” Mr. Starr replied. “Until he issues a directive, directly or indirectly, he’s expressing this frustration. But it’s not crossing the line into criminality.”

THE BUSY MR. BAIER

He is a boots-in-the-ground anchor this week. Fox News Channel’s prime time political anchor Bret Baier is in Asia at this very moment, broadcasting live during President Trump’s 12-day, landmark visit to five nations. Mr. Baier is a busy man. On Sunday, he was in Tokyo for a sit-down interview with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Good afternoon — or from Tokyo, good morning where it’s 2:30 a.m.” Mr. Baier tweeted to his stateside fans, just prior to the interview.

On Tuesday, the anchor is off to Seoul, South Korea, and Wednesday he will go live from Beijing.

SOME FELLOWS WANTED

The nonpartisan White House Fellowship program is now open for applications from those interested in spending a year in the nation’s capital, working full time for Cabinet secretaries, senior White House staff, and other top-ranking government officials, for a one-year period beginning in August, 2018.

Needless to say, it’s a big deal. Somebody has to win, though.

“A well-prepared application and carefully selected references are key components to a successful application. Developing a clear, comprehensive, and competitive application is estimated to take at least 25 hours, so we encourage you to start this process as soon as possible,” the organizers advise.

Applicants must be U.S. citizen and have completed their undergraduate education; the online applications are due by January 10, 2018. Find the information at Fellows.Whitehouse.gov.

POLL DU JOUR

66 percent of Americans feel stress by “the future of our nation.”

62 percent are stressed by money worries, 61 percent by work.

59 percent think the U.S. is at its “lowest point in history.”

57 percent are stressed by “the current political climate.”

43 percent are stressed by health care, 35 percent by the economy.

• 34 percent have gotten headaches, 33 percent have felt overwhelmed, 33 percent nervous or anxious, 32 percent depressed or sad.

25 percent wish they managed stress more effectively.

Source: An American Psychological Association survey of 3,440 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 3-21 and released Friday.

• Chitchat and helpful information to [email protected]

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