At 9:30 I begin a conference call with my staff who fill me in on the holes in my diet like the Casey Anthony trial or the he-said-she-said between Democrats and Republicans. I check Twitter on average once every 15 or 20 minutes. I like to tweet about things that provoke debate but I don't seek confrontation for confrontation's sake. Feel free to call me an asshole on Twitter. I won't respond. On the phone, I make calls to primary sources: actual people doing actual things like Senators, bankers or businessmen.
That combination of news puts me in a situation where I can differentiate between what's actually happening and the blowhard news cycle of fear-monger manipulation and self-indulgent garbage. For instance, you hear a lot of talk on the debt ceiling about how disastrous it's going to be. The nice thing about having access to the financial markets is you can see how full of crap the political media is. If America was not going to pay its debts then the yield on the ten-year bond rate would be 14 percent. It's under 3 percent now. It's a joke. The whole thing's a charade. The debt limit itself is invented. It's like a really strict curfew your parents can and will remove at any time, which is not to say that America's debt is insignificant.
Outside of the financial markets, there's very little penalty for having false information. Whereas in the financial universe, the punishment for false information is severe and irrevocable: you lose all your money. Good information matters and bad information is dangerous. So when a politician or political journalist asserts anything it's always a good idea to check the asset prices that would be affected. "Oh my God, we're going to default on our debt? That must mean America's ten-year bond must be out of whack!" Oh it's not? Then I guess they're full of fucking shit.
One of my great frustrations with working in cable news is that the entire cable news infrastructure has been branded through partisan political lenses and so people assume that if you're on MSNBC you're left and if you're on Fox News you're right. There's no question that I'm painted as left because of the network I'm on. The branding precedes the talent in cable networking. Since when is it my job to be a Democrat or Republican? I recognize that both political parties are bought by six industries: energy, banking, health care, defense, agribusiness and communications.
For books, I read autobiographies and spiritual literature like Ram Dass. The most recent autobiography I've read is Richard Branson's Losing My Virginity. It's not some glorification of how Branson became rich. Far from it. It's a revelation of his value system and his personal struggles. The bottom line on Ram Dass is the realization that there is no personal identity. I'm an anchor, I'm a journalist, I'm a father, I'm a brother. But the only thing that's important is infinite potential. Every human being's identity is your potential. Right now I'm an anchorman in New York who's a dude. But I'll still be Dylan Ratigan. So who are you? My answer is infinite potential. I think when you take that identity to your work it puts you in the best possible situation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.