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Yay! Laffy’s Big Road Trip was a complete success this year! (As opposed to other years.) Zion National Park was gorgeous, Bryce was spectacular, and our accommodations and dining experiences were great. The people in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona were nice as could be (well, except for that cop who pulled us over in Arizona for a law we’d never heard of– the Move Over Law– but at least he let us off with a warning… and turned out to be a fan of Mr. Laffy’s show “Naked and Afraid”).

Here’s what wasn’t gorgeous, spectacular, or great: Being stuck with CNN as our source for news. Did I say “news”? Forgive me. I meant 24/7 fear mongering and force-feeding us meaningless, irrelevant details about the Disease du Jour. Did I say “CNN”? Forgive me. I meant The Ebola Channel.

My daily routine, every single morning, is to read the paper and then watch as much of the latest news as I can, followed by letting news broadcasts run all day in the background while I work on posts. However, on the Big Road Trip, I was limited to watching a couple of hours of whatever CNN dished out.

“Why not just change the channel?” you may be wisely asking. The maddening answer: MSNBC was not on the playlist, and Fox doesn’t report news. Come to think of it, neither does CNN. It used to, back in The Day, but not now. Boyoboyhowdy, not now.

From the time I switched on the Tee Vee Machine at about 6:30 am, until I threw my iPhone at it turned it off at about 9 am, literally all I was subjected to were repetitive blaring Ebola headlines, Ebola fear mongering, inconsequential Ebola minutiae, and redundant, extraneous babbling, germane to pretty much nothing. CNN played the same segment of Sanjay Gupta getting in and out of a haz-mat suit over and over again, several times per hour, plus footage of hospital exteriors, and a whole lot of speculation apparently designed to make viewers very, very afraid.

Everything and anything of consequence could have been covered in ten minutes, followed by other, you know, news. Election coverage comes to mind. So do ISIS, voter suppression, climate change crises, potential environmental disasters, and, yes, even accurate information intended to calm the frayed nerves of a mis/uninformed audience that now believe Ebola is as contagious as the common cold.

I waited. I watched and I waited. But hour after hour, it was all Ebola all the time, punctuated only by an occasional mention of the stock market dropping a couple of hundred points. There were, however, plenty of questions about the competence of President Obama and his implied indifference to the health of U.S. citizens. Did I mention they milked the Ebola scare 59 on-air minutes out of 60?

Here’s my point: If I weren’t someone who took the time to read the news as well as watch it, I would have been among those uninformed/misinformed viewers of CNN. I never, have never, will never watch Fox, and the hotels provided no access to other news stations. So CNN it was. My cell phone service was in and out since we were in a wildernessy, mountainy area that hates the Internets, so even my ability to scour news sites was hampered. Our access to newspapers was pretty limited too; the choices were USA Today or the very thin, very Utah-oriented local paper.

So until I could finally log on to the MSNBC website to watch as many segments as I could, I was sunk. I felt utterly out of the loop, cut off, and adrift in the Great Sea of Ignorance. Eventually returning home to a variety of opinions. guests, and topics covered by the same MSNBC that I critique so often was not unlike pigging out at an all-you-can-eat health food buffet after a diet of nothing but greasy, week-old pork rinds disguised as barbecue Portobello quesadillas.

The moral of the story is this: Take the time to read, research, educate yourselves, because the abysmal infotainment that passes for “news” sure won’t teach you anything… except maybe the difference between facts and B.S.