The No News News Media

by Walter Brasch

There was a lot of news this past week.

Some of it was even reported by the news media.

First, there was a football player from Notre Dame who either did or didn’t know that his girlfriend was or wasn’t real, but died sometime during the season. Six column headlines for several days announced the fraud. Network news and talk show hosts rehashed it almost daily.

Two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong admitted he was a dope. Or maybe he just took dope. The news media kept sending urgent flashes all week of what he was going to tell Oprah. And then he told Oprah, and now we’ll be reading stories about it until Schwinn adds a jet engine to a 3-speed.

Subway is accused of making foot-long hoagies that are 11 inches, a problem that the executives wisely didn’t say was due to shrinkage in cold weather. The media seized this major fraud and, ignoring anything Congress or Wall Street was doing, slathered layers of hype on a story that should have died with three paragraphs in one day.

Of course, there was the inauguration. That became another way for bloviators and pretend-journalists to push their own agendas. They told us how unpopular this President is-attendance was way down from the first inauguration. Only 500,000 attended.  They didn’t tell us that second inaugurations always have much fewer people watching them in person than first inaugurations. And, that figure of 500,000? A little short of the actual number of one million. They said the inauguration was over-long and overpriced, although most of it was paid for by private donations. Something they didn’t mention was that the costs and day’s activities were about the same as for the previous president, and most presidents of the latter 20th century-Democrat or Republican.

Some of these pundits suggested that the President didn’t have a mandate, although he easily won by more than five million votes, and a near landslide in the Electoral College. A few of the more extreme even suggested he had stolen the election-how else could he have won over the nice businessman who bought and sold companies and helped improve the economy of Switzerland and the Canary Islands?

For the rest of the networks, the focus was on a constant blather of what would Michelle Obama be wearing. Whose dress? Whose gloves? This, of course, was mixed into all kinds of gushes and comments about her new ‘do. You know, the one that had bangs. The day after the inauguration, the media was all over the story of the BeyoncĂ© kerfuffle. Did she or didn’t she lip synch the National Anthem? Truly great news coverage there.

Hillary Clinton testified before the Congressional Inquisition of Televised Republicans trying to make their bones to either enhance their own chances for re-election or to block what they think may be her plan to run for the presidency in 2016. This would be some of the same people who thought she was faking a concussion to avoid testifying in the first place.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled for Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 2-10 was cancelled this past week. The Expo is the largest in North America, but the organizers decided that in the wake of the Newtown murders, they would put a temporary moratorium on the sale of military-style assault weapons because they believed “the presence of MSRs [military style rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.” Only a dozen or so of the 1,200 vendors were affected; most were selling clothes, rifles, turkey calls, tents, and anything related to outdoor sports. But, one by one vendors, the media, and dozens of celebrities-all with NRA encouragement and support-decided not to attend, somehow believing that a hunting and fishing exhibition that didn’t allow the purchase of assault weapons was somehow anti-American and gave a message that those who did attend were opposed to the Second Amendment. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that the cancellation led to a loss of $43 million in the local economy.

More than 32,000 will die from gun violence by the end of the year, according to the Brady Center. This past week, 78 Americans, including four pre-teens, died from gun violence. And, during this past week, as has been the case for hundreds of previous weeks, the NRA leadership, with the egos of a gang of schoolboys who overdosed on testosterone, continue to defy all attempts to reach sensible solutions to allow the purchase of guns, yet reduce the violence.

A 38-year-old sergeant died from wounds received near Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, but he became a lower priority less than a year later. The Bush-Cheney administration almost abandoned the war in Afghanistan and turned to Iraq. More than 7,600 American and allied soldiers were killed, and more than 50,000 wounded in both wars. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, ended the war in Iraq and is months from ending the one in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who numerous times promised to reign in the abuse of the filibuster that blocked any meaningful legislation or presidential appointments, turned wimp this past week. He and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who once vowed his top priority was solely to prevent Barack Obama from serving a second term, may have been last seen hugging, kissing, and preparing to be married in Massachusetts.

This past week, the stock market hit new records, and it looks President Obama may receive some of the credit for helping to stop the Great Recession, something that upsets Republicans, delights Democrats, and has no meaning to anyone homeless or unemployed.

Yes, there was a lot of news this past week. Some of it may some day actually be reported.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster. It is available from www.greeleyandstone.com at a pre-publication discount.]

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Profiling the Presidential Vote

The Sunday New York Times did an analysis of where votes came from for both the President and Mitt Romney in last week’s election.  It’s interesting to see who won each bloc and by what margin.  I’m amazed that the Republican took a small majority (52-47) of voters aged 60 or over.  That means millions of seniors voted to end their medicare and Social Security.  That doesn’t bode well for convincing Obama not to put them back on the table in his “Grand Bargain.”

The typical Romney voter was white, male, married and wealthy.  The further you were from a city the more likely you voted GOP.  If your financial situation was worse than four years ago you were part of the 80% of those who went with Mitt.

If you’re a resident of an urban area, a minority, female, LGBT and young you were an Obama voter.  The President took 53% of the women’s vote, 60% of those 29 or younger, 93% of African-Americans, 73% of Asians and 71% of Hispanics.  LGBT voters gave Obama 76% of their vote.  If your financial situation was improved over 2008 you were part of 84% of those who voted Democratic.

This election came down to economics:  are you better off, and the votes of women and minorities.  The GOP is increasingly the Party of older married white couples, especially men.  young voters are opting for Democrats and ethnic minorities are overwhelmingly Democratic.  With the nation changing to a younger, more diverse populace the GOP is, literally, dying out.  Every four years they’ll have fewer voters and a smaller percentage of voters.

Another fascinating statistic:  Romney only won 54% of voters earning $200,000 or more.  That undermines their arguments not to raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more since 44% of them voted for Obama.

A Visit to an Obama Field Office

I stopped by the Obama field office in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania this afternoon and spoke with several volunteers.  They were busy phone banking, calling voters to remind them to get to their polling place.  They have twelve staging locations throughout the county doing GOTV.  I haven’t heard of any irregularities but one caller to NPR from PA said she was required to show a photo ID to vote.  That’s illegal.

Republicans in affluent Wyomissing had this sign posted:

The volunteers:

The interviews:

Jill Stein For President

Today I will cast my vote for President for Dr. Jill Stein.  She is the Green Party candidate and this is the second consecutive election I am voting Green.

I like Barack Obama and he is an overwhelming choice if you’re limited to either him or Mitt Romney.  I’m not.  I refuse to waste my vote on someone who does not share my values and Stein does.  I do not like Obama’s ties to Wall Street and his ineffective Dodd/Frank bill.  His drone wars will make us less safe in the long run.  Gitmo remains open and the indefinite detention law scares the bejesus out of me.  He did little which was effective to help homeowners.  His support for charter schools is a threat to public education.

One never agrees with any candidate on every issue but there’s little with which I disagree with Jill Stein.  She stands for both social and economic justice, for the 99% against the 1%.  She gets my vote.

Decision 2012: Prosperity or Austerity

Tuesday Americans go to the polls to decide the future course of the nation.  Will it be prosperity or austerity?  That’s essentially what this contest boils down to though few candidates are articulating it this way.  Have no doubt though, this is your choice.

Several South American and European countries went the route of austerity.  It has been extremely painful for their citizens.  It means a severe constricting of the economy.  There is no need for austerity in America.  In fact every elite economist has been calling for additional stimulus spending.  That is what expands the economy to create jobs.  

The economy is improving but at a slow rate.  Of course this is a far cry from the situation four years ago when we were on the precipice of a depression and total financial meltdown.  Eight million people lost their jobs, $7 trillion in wealth disappeared and seven million homeowners lost their houses.  We were losing 800,000 jobs every month.

The problem with our current economy is a lack of demand.  People aren’t buying things because they don’t have the  money or because they fear for their jobs and are saving.  Without demand for products and services businesses aren’t hiring.  Demand will create jobs.  Tax cuts cost jobs, they do NOT create them.  All of the factual evidence supports this regardless of the brainwashing you’ve been hearing incessantly from conservative candidates.  Remember they’re the ones whose policies created this mess.  They’re not just promising to reinstate those they pledge to go further by imposing austerity.

Austerity is called the Ryan Budget.  Mitt Romney has promised to sign a Ryan Budget.  Paul Ryan, his running mate, proposes cutting 40% of the federal government.  However they want to increase defense spending and pass yet another 20% tax cut for the rich.

Our current $16 trillion deficit was created almost exclusively by Republican policies.  It was designed to strangle government to the point where they could argue for austerity.  Ronald Reagan began taking us down this road in 1981.  His Budget Director David Stockman said they planned on creating such massive debt the country would have but two choices:  tax increases to pay the debt of massive decreases in government services.  Their plan is the latter.  We’ve come t the point where this decision is yours on Tuesday:  do we raise taxes on the rich to pay for how they devastated the economy or do you suffer?

Workers, senior citizens and the poor have suffered tremendously under the Reagan Revolution.  It was expanded by both Bushes until the average worker is earning less now than in 1980.  Health care costs are bankrupting Americans.  Corporations now run the country and have poured billions into this year’s campaigns.  The head of Home Depot is on television telling people for whom to vote.  Employers are threatening to fire their workers if they don’t vote “properly.”  Yes Massuh!  I thought slavery ended.  There’s no better reason to vote against Mitt Romney than being ordered to by your boss.

Income inequality is threatening the stability of the nation.  The imposition of austerity to further transfer wealth from the bottom to the top will likely precipitate a violent revolution by the end of the decade.  This is what is at stake.

It is your choice:  prosperity or austerity?

When someone tells you the stimulus failed or that President Obama didn’t turn the country around look at this graph to determine if they’re lying:

Here is a graph of the national debt.  Notice the huge increase starting in 1981 (Ronald Reagan):

Here it is pictured differently:

Here is a graph showing the inequality of income:

When you hear conservatives crying about high corporate taxes remember the effective tax rate, that which they actually pay, is only 9%:

Here’s where the Bush tax cuts went:

That and other policies created this income inequality:

Our number 1 problem isn’t spending, it isn’t the deficit.  Our biggest problem is jobs.  Republicans promised jobs back in 2010 then spent two years filibustering every single jobs program in Congress.  They spent four years screaming about a deficit they created.  Then they blame dit on Democrats.  Here’s a video which clearly explains where the debt came from:

Be careful what you believe because conservatives have been telling falsehoods.  They’ve abandoned their coveted belief in personal responsibility by blaming liberals for conservative failures.  Their Reagan Revolution is about to come full circle.  If you voted Republican in the past thirty years you’ve facilitated their attack on your rights and your financial well being.  If you continue to vote Republican you’ll get what you deserve.

Cold Romney Event Backfires

Mitt Romney probably lost more votes than he got tonight as he hosted a bitterly cold outside event in Morrisville, Bucks County.  The gates opened at 2:15 for a 5:30 event at Shady Brook Farm.  An outdoor event after dark in early November wasn’t a good idea.  I had a ticket but couldn’t get to it on time.  I had dressed as warmly as I could preparing for the outside venue (long underwear, thick socks, sweater, heavy coat) but many folks tried to leave because of the cold and Romney staffers prevented them.  They began Tweeting that their kids were getting frostbite and they weren’t being allowed to leave.  Attendees had to start sneaking out to get warm.  This was a fiasco.

Planned Parenthood Jumps Into Philly Ad Market

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is launching a $100,000 radio campaign in the Philadelphia market prior to Tuesday’s election:

WASHINGTON-Planned Parenthood Action Fund is out with a new radio ad today in the Philadelphia area to drive home the groups pro-women’s health message and support for President Obama throughout the week leading into the election. The ad “Mitt Romney Completely Wrong For Women” is part of the Action Fund’s biggest-ever voter education and outreach program, undertaken in partnership with Planned Parenthood advocacy organizations across the country to make sure every woman understands the stark difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney when it comes to women’s health and economic security when they head to the polls on November 6. The Action Fund is the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

It highlights that Mitt Romney has yet to say whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which guarantees women get paid the same amount of money for their work as men, his vow to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would end safe and legal abortion, and his promise to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood. The ad goes on to say that President Obama has “things headed in the right direction” and notes that he “stood up to insurance companies to make them cover birth control and to stop charging women more, simply because we’re women.”

According to an October 22 survey, seven out of 10 Americans believe that health insurance companies should cover the full cost of birth control, as required by the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit. Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the birth control benefit and the ACA if he is elected. More than three-quarters of Americans – including two out of three Republicans – think the government should continue to help low-income women access birth control, which is what Title X does – another program that Mitt Romney has vowed to eliminate.

According to an October 29 battleground tracking poll from Lake Research Partners, the gender gap is widening back out and women are returning in favor of President Obama. According to the poll, “Obama has increased his margin over Romney among women, as women have gone from supporting the President by 6 points last week (51% Obama to 45% Romney) to 11 points today (54% Obama to 43% Romney).”

In reference to Romney, the woman narrating the ad says, “I just don’t think Mitt Romney is looking out for us. Plus his views on women seem like they’re from the 1950s.” Later on, she says this about President Obama, “We’re not there yet, but President Obama has things heading in the right direction.” The ad ends with “at the end of the day, I trust President Obama.”

“Women’s health is truly on the ballot this year and what we’re hearing from women across Pennsylvania is that they have serious concerns about Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda to end safe and legal abortion and end funding for Planned Parenthood preventive health services,” said Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC. “These are not so-called ‘women’s issues’ – these are economic issues for millions of women and families, and their votes will reflect that on Election Day. The Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC has invested nearly a quarter of a million dollars in six state legislative districts across the state and will be driving home a women’s health message over the next four days to defeat politicians who believe government, and not women, should have control over their own healthcare decisions.”

The Romney/Ryan administration would:

Overturn Roe v. Wade and end safe/legal abortion.

The president holds sway over what abortion rights look like. According to the Washington Post, “The Supreme Court is certainly the only body that can overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. But that does not mean the president does not hold sway over what abortion rights look like in a wide variety of ways,” such as regulating Medicaid, passing federal abortion regulations, and appointing Supreme Court judges.

“Get rid” of Planned Parenthood, which would deny women access to birth control and cancer screenings.

End the nation’s family planning program, which provides preventive care to nearly five million women, and cut off access to birth control for women who need it the most.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act, undoing the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation, and cut off millions of women from no co-pay birth control and other preventive health services.

Support “personhood” efforts, which have been rejected in MS, CO, and OK, and that could ban forms of birth control and IVF.

Disclosure:  I am a Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.

Pennsylvania In Play? Experts Say No

Republicans are putting several million dollars into Pennsylvania the final week of the election.  Obama/Biden is responding with ads of their own to counter the effort.  Our twenty electoral votes are normally contested as Ohio and Iowa are this year.  Polls at one time gave the President a healthy 12 point lead, one which has whittled down to 4-5 because of the first debate debacle.  That remains a good margin for Obama.  The Vice President will be in Scranton today, the first visit by either Democrat this fall.

Why the sudden thrust into the Keystone State?  Mitt Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes doesn’t exist a week out and he must expand the map in a final, desperate bid.  By adding PA, Michigan and Minnesota he hopes to squeeze enough votes in the Electoral College to gain the White House.  Hotly contested states like Iowa are now a 6 point margin for the President.  If you watched the Penn State-Iowa football game you were inundated with ads, mostly by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, aimed at Iowans.

Our votes next Tuesday will be determined by turnout.  If Democrats turn out for the first time in four years polls show we’ll remain Blue.  It’s too late for Romney to turn a 4-5 point lead in his favor but he has no choice.

October 25, 2012

We march inexorably to the election.  Gloria Allred says she has proof Mitt Romney committed perjury but can’t get the sealed files released.  It seems he covered up for his client Staples owner in his divorce settlement saving the guy millions.  Bain Capital owned Staples which is now closing 60 stores.

We already know Romney is willing to say anything.  Now he’s trying to mitigate his stand on gay issues.  Someone needs to grab that Etch A Sketch from his hands.

As usual I’ve been following politics in my second home of New Mexico.  The Senate seat of retiring Jeff Bingaman is up this fall.  Congressman Martin Heinrich is running against former Congresswoman Heather Wilson.  You might remember her from GonzalesGate when she put pressure on the U.S. Attorney to prosecute voter fraud cases.  He was fired because of that and the resulting scandal bit deeply into the Bush White House until the Attorney General had to quit.  She subsequently lost her seat in Congress as payback and now is losing the Senate race.  I hop to interview Senator-elect Heinrich when I go to Santa Fe in two weeks.  I’ll be there until December 3rd.

One of our own Senators, former State Senator Raphael Musto, pled not guilty to additional charges this week.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is returning to the Commonwealth next week.

Commonwealth Court is asking the state why it is continuing its Voter ID ad campaign.  Billboards in Hispanic neighborhoods remain telling voters they must have acceptable photo ID to vote.  By order of that same Judge we do not.  This seems to be a blatant attempt by Republicans to engage in election fraud.

Speaking of Pennsylvania Republicans and election fraud the moron from King of Prussia who got caught dumping Democratic voter registration forms in Virginia is facing prosecution.  You don’t want to be Colin Small.  I suspect his name reflects the size of his IQ.  Isn’t it curious that the Party protesting about voter fraud is the one which routinely practices election fraud?

Labor is hitting Mitt on the Sensata job outsourcing:

Romney refuses to create separation from Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (rape is part of god’s plan)

Gen. Colin Powell endorsed the President:

Kathy Boockvar has a good new ad up:

Speaking of good campaign ads here’s one from Erik Saar (hat tip to Fran the pipefitting man for sending it):

Saar’s opponent is State Rep. Jim Cox, former CoS to Rep. Sam Rohrer.  Since Sam left to pursue windmills Cox has become the chief sponsor of the Commonwealth Caucus Tax Fraud.  When Saar pointed out in a debate that Cox’s math doesn’t add up Tea baggers walked out:

The Obama campaign has a new ad comparing Richard Mourdock and Paul Ryan.  Speaking of which our own Tom Smith is on the same page as these other mad men:

Republicans have made the debt a major issue even though they’re principally responsible for it.  The Tea Party morons were strangely silent when we were all protesting the massive budget deficits run up by Reagan, Bush Senior and Bush Junior.  W ran it up to $10 trillion.  The Center for American Progress has a great explanation for where the debt came from:

While slashing budgets for almost every program Gov. Gasbag has been preaching fiscal austerity.  His budgets now have Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate higher than the national average.  While most states are seeing decreases in unemployment ours is rising.  In spite of these failures the Governor saw fit to grant $10,000 raises to his staffers.  Think about that when you see disabled Pennsylvanians denied state programs and benefits, when yous ee poor Moms struggling because welfare payments were eliminated and schools devastated.

Of course not all Pennsylvanians are hurting.  Vahan Gureghian, the charter school magnate known for giving millions in campaign contributions for his profit driven, underperforming schools, is doing rather well.  Because your property tax payments are going into his pockets he and his wife has decided to build a huge mansion in Florida.  At 20,000 square feet the Palm Beach manse is something garish and a fine example of excess.  Aren’t you glad you helped pay for it?

BREAKING NEWS: AP, Media Fumble News Story

by WALTER BRASCH

On the Sunday before the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney and some of his senior staffers played a flag football game with members of the Press Corps on Delray Beach, Fla.

Ashley Parker of the Associated Press, apparently mistaking fashion reporting for news, reported that Mitt Romney was “wearing black shorts, a black Adidas T-shirt and gray sneakers.” Romney’s team, composed of senior campaign staff whom Parker identified, was “clad in red T-shirts.” She didn’t report what the members of the press wore, their names, or how many were on a team, but did acknowledge she “also played, winning the coin toss for her team, but doing little else by way of yardage accrual.” Yardage accrual? If this was Newswriting 101, and she put that phrase into a news story, there wouldn’t be one college prof anywhere in the country who wouldn’t have red-marked it, and suggested she stop trying to be cute.

Romney was a starter-we don’t know which position he played-made a “brief beach appearance” and left when “the game was in full swing,” possibly not wanting to get too mussed up by having to interact with commoners. There is so much a reporter could have done with Romney’s failure to finish the game, but didn’t. Parker, however, did tell readers breathlessly awaiting the next “factoid” that Ann Romney “made a brief appearance . . . after cheerleading from the sidelines.” She was protected by the Secret Service who served as the offensive line, undeniably allowing her to take enough time to do her nails, brush her hair, put on another coat of makeup for the AP camera, and then throw a touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7. At 14-14, the game was called because, reported Parker, “Mr. Romney’s aides needed to get to debate prep, and the reporters had stories to file.” Obviously, stories about a beach flag football game on a Sunday afternoon was critical enough breaking news to stop the game and breathlessly inform the nation.

Amidst the sand, Parker reported, “There is a long history of candidates and their staff members occasionally interacting with reporters on a social level.” She referred to a couple events during the 2008 campaign; Sen. Barack Obama played Taboo with reporters; Sen. John McCain hosted a barbeque for the media. Those facts alone should have kept any alert comedy writer, satirist, or political pundit in material for the next four years.

A beach football game between politician and press may seem innocent enough-a couple of hours of fun to break the stress of a long, and usually annoying, political campaign. But there’s far more than flags pulled from shorts.

Reporters who socialize with the power elite-and this happens far more than it doesn’t happen-often fail to do their primary job: challenge authority, as the Founding fathers so eloquently asked. It wasn’t White House reporters who broke the Watergate story that eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, it was two police reporters at the Washington Post, who took abuse heaped upon them by the White House reporters and hundreds of others, including some of their own newspaper, for going on what was called a vindictive witch hunt.  It was the media who proved they were better stenographers than reporters who dutifully chowed down whatever crumbs they were fed by the Bush-Cheney administration, and seldom questioned why the U.S. was invading Iraq. A few from the major media and many from the alternative press who did question authority were dismissed as mere gadflies. It was the sycophantic press that also didn’t question the destruction of civil liberties by the passage of the PATRIOT Act.

Against policy wonk/environmentalist Al Gore in 2000, Americans said they would rather have a beer with George W. Bush. Many of the press did have beers with candidate Bush, who once invited the media onto his ranch to watch him shoot and then barbeque pigeons for a group barbecue.

Every year in the nation’s capital is a high society event, the “Gridiron dinner.” Everyone-politicians, members of the press, and a horde of actors and singers-dress up in ball gowns and white-tie tuxedos to drink and schmooze. When it isn’t Gridiron Season, there’s all kinds of social events at all kinds of places that reporters just have to attend in order to get their stories, they simplistically justify.

Sports reporters who are too close to the teams or the sports they cover are derisively known as “homers,” not for Homer Simpson, who some of them act like, but because they favor the home team. Entertainment reporters and arts critics feel important because publicists will often go to extraordinary lengths to get them face-time with celebrities. To prove how “independent” they are, some, who have no discernible creative talent, will write snarky columns about celebrities and their works, thinking they are clever rather than the pompous self-aggrandizing jerks they really are. Many in the media-especially those in television and the print reporters who often do TV talk-show commentaries-probably should drop the pretense they’re journalists and just accept the appellations that they are celebrities.

It isn’t just reporters who cover national stories who get too close to their sources. There are now state and metropolitan gridiron dinners. At a local level, Reporters who cover the police and city council are often on a first-name basis with their sources. Even if they honestly believe they are objective, and will knock down lies and deceptions, they often don’t. They believe they need these sources to get more news, and are afraid that if they become too tough, the news, which is fed to them, will somehow dry up. They often accept “background” and “off-the-record” comments, which they never report or attribute, because somehow it makes them feel that they, unlike their readers of a lesser level, are “in the know.” And yet, every reporter will swear upon a stack of style manuals that he or she is objective and independent.

Don’t believe that? Put yourself in the position of being a reporter. You’re sitting at your desk in the bullpen of a newsroom, now decimated by layoffs. In walks a man in a three-piece suit and a woman in fashionably-acceptable skirt, blouse, blazer, and two-inch heels. They have a story to tell. Now, you may think that because they are PR people or middle-management executives for a large corporation, they are suspect to begin with, but they, like you, are college graduates; they are eloquent; they have a news release with the story laid out. Want anything else? They’re more than pleased to get it for you.

Now, the next day, while walking outside your office, a bag lady accosts you. She’s wearing little more than rags. Her hair is unkempt; her breath stinks. It’s doubtful she was ever a sorority president. “You a reporter?” she barks, knowing that if you’re wearing jeans, a nice but not expensive shirt and a tie you probably aren’t a corporate executive or big-shot politician. She wants to tell you a story-something about a corporation that did something very unethical and possibly illegal. You’re running late to your appointment with a physical trainer who has promised to keep you fit and attractive. You just want to get past this obstacle.

Who do you relate to? Those who look, act, and think more like you-or those who you probably wouldn’t have a drink with after work?

Don’t expect the media to stop having social encounters with their sources; it will never happen. But, do expect that maybe some will heed the call of the Founding Fathers and be independent of the sources they are expected to cover.

[Walter Brasch spent more than 40 years as a journalist and university professor, covering everything from local school board meetings to the White House.  He is currently a syndicated columnist and book author. He acknowledges that in his early 20s he was enamored by being at the same parties as the “power elite,” but quickly got over it, and has been fiercely independent from the power-elites, including the power-media, whether at local, state, or national levels. His current book is the critically-acclaimed Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution.]

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Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution

(www.greeleyandstone.com)

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