Several years ago I attended a symposium of sorts. Maybe it was a workshop or a seminar. I’m not sure how to tell the difference. It was a meeting. It was sponsored by government entities, and the gist was to try to bring us journalists (mainly us newspaper folk) in line.
Now obviously it wasn’t billed that way. The cover story was to build better relationships between the press and governments. And curiously, it seemed to be designed as to where the government was to do most of the talking and we, the press, were supposed to be doing most of the listening.
As we got into the commentaries, a Board of County Commissioners’ attorney charged that the press was “too adversarial.” Well, having been in the news business for quite a number of years and having been in a few Sunshine Law skirmishes along the way, that got my hackles up just a bit.
So I raised my hand on that point and was recognized to speak. So I asked the gentleman, just for the record, what profession he represented. It was that of a lawyer of course.
So I responded: “And you’re calling the press adversarial? On our worst days, wouldn’t that be like the a platypus and an aardvark competing in a beauty contest?”
The folks from the press embraced the levity. The politicians did not. Maybe aardvark threw them.
Now don’t get me wrong, we have some really good folks serving in government. I’ve known many of them. I think most of them have good intentions. I appreciate those qualified people who will offer their services when we have elections. Such is fundamental to our democratic republic.
My concern is that we all remember that it is “our government.” And one role of the press is to keep an eye on government because there are those instances — well documented — where the “our” part is neglected. It’s okay to trust, but it’s crucial to verify.
I’ve taken a lot of jibes from my friends in politics through the years. And I’ve delivered a few as well. Most of it has been good natured. A little has been somewhat serrated. The give and take is historical.
Through the years I’ve collected a few quotes relative to politics, just in case I needed a comeback. I share a few gems now:
“If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.” - Jay Leno.
“The problems with political jokes is they get elected.” — Henry Cate, VII
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” - Aesop
“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.” - Nikita Khruschev
“When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become president; I’m beginning to believe it.” - Clarence Darrow
“Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.” - John Quinton
“A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.” - Tex Guinan
And now in all fairness to this issue:
“We've uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves, and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business.” - President Jimmy Carter.
“Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.” - Graham Greene
“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that's an alibi for my ignorance.” - Will Rogers
“The press is like the peculiar uncle you keep in the attic - just one of those unfortunate things.” - G. Gordon Liddy
(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email: email@example.com)