(Editor's Note: What we have here is the first of two posts meant to run in proximity to one another which I wrote in February 2009, but, for whatever reason, did not post them then. I can no longer recall what was on my mind when I wrote them, much less why I did not publish them. I suppose I was too preoccupied thinking about California girls and European girls .... you know how it goes. Moving right along, this is the first segment of what was written back then and left to gather dust .... or whatever gathers within computers. The second piece will arrive soon. Since election politics are swinging into full gear in the United States, the words seem just as relevant now as they were then. Uffff .... how many times has the earth spun us round and round since February 2009, and the words politicians/journalists/ liars too often still remain synonymous? A rhetorical question, but worth thinking about our mental spin cycle. Incidentally, the music, "The Grand Illusion," by Styx, is the music I originally selected to accompany this post way, way back then -- six and one-half years ago. The thought of the span of time between then and now numbs me. The cartoon is not from then; Barack Obama had been in office only about a month when these thoughts were written, and the media adoration of him was just beginning to enter "warp drive.")
Candidates & reporters: Do not trust either
How many times have you voted for a candidate for government office because you had "trust" in the person?
I never have.
Perhaps that goes back to cynicism. Most certainly, it goes to the role and responsibility of professional journalists. I once was among their numbers, and I have "inside" experience upon which to form my viewpoints. Journalists are (at least, once were) trained to be skeptics, doubters, investigators, fact seekers and objective to the best of their abilities. It is very obvious some journalists are better at these things than others.
Television reporting, by-in-large, is pretty pathetic. Many newspaper reporters are more suited for producing fiction than for pursuing the facts. This has never been truer than it is today. Over here, for example, stands a Republican candidate. Over there, stands a Democrat candidate. Each is presenting his political point of view. Inside that view are personal beliefs, personal ambitions, dollars and cents, pressures from constituents, lobbyists and friends, and a host of other elements. Between them stands the reporter. How can the average citizen learn which candidate is telling the "truth" and being "honest" when the reporter has abandoned traditional journalistic precepts and is allowing his personal feelings to enter the story?
Journalists and politicians must maintain an adversarial role. That does not mean the relationship cannot be friendly, cordial and polite, and even have a sort of friendship exist between individuals in the two camps. It does mean that the journalist and the politician both need to understand it is a reporter's obligation to check the facts behind every word that comes out of a politician's mouth. Increasingly, this no longer is the case. Increasingly, fewer facts are emerging from the spin. Increasingly, there is no one left to trust. Increasingly, people have no choice but to follow candidates blindly.
Returning to the beginning of this commentary: I never have voted for a candidate because I "trust" him or her. I vote for the person who I think is best suited for the task at hand in terms of the conditions that exist at that particular point in time, and this is becoming a more difficult task with every election due to the disintegration of the American journalist.
(The other segment in a couple of days ....)