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RUNNING FROM THE MEDIA


I have been thinking a lot lately about the legitimate role of the media in this country.  While I have to admit that I am no media expert, I have been around a while and have been through quite a few election cycles since I was among the first in the country to vote at eighteen years of age during the 1972 national elections.

There is no doubt that the media has evolved since that 1972 election.  At that time we got most of our information from one of the major news organizations that broadcast on public television or from hometown and major newspapers.  In the region where I lived we got our print news from either the San Gabriel Valley Tribune or the Los Angeles Times.  Major magazines fulfilled a small role in providing us with information but even at that time, if we wanted relevant, timely information we turned to nightly news programs or the “morning” paper.

With regard to the world of politics, the role of these media outlets was to report events as they happen, to seek truth,  expose hypocrisy, and question the validity of statements and actions of those seeking to persuade the electorate to vote in a certain way.

The press has a responsiblity to the American people.  They had this responsibility in 1972, they have the responsibility in 2010.  In the political realm, for the most part, that responsibility is to keep the dialogue between those running for office and those who will make the decision to put them in office, truthful and honest.  Since I cannot be at every political rally, every news conference, every debate, it is the job of the press to go there for me, and accurately report the events of the day. 

The advent of cable television and the internet has resulted in significantly increased exposure for those who seek political office.  Candidates are under more scrutiny now than at any time in my lifetime.  As a result of this increased scrutiny by the various media outlets covering their campaigns, we have seen candidates being more selective about those they allow to interview them. 

During the 2008 electoral season, John McCains’ political machine restricted the exposure of their Vice Presidential nominee to the press.  Sarah Palin was almost completely hidden from the prying eyes and ears of media outlets that were not seen as favorable to their campaign.  In essence if Sarah was going to answer a question it was going to be one that was generated by the Fox News organization.  Basically, other news outlets were shut out of the process.  After seeing the performance of the Governor of Alaska during selected non-Fox News media encounters it is difficult to argue with their selective exposure of their candidate.  Their candidate was a political neophyte with limited political background and an even more limited knowledge of the issues that the American electorate were concerned about.  

The American people deserve to know the whole story.  They deserve to know if a candidate is legitimately prepared to perform the job of the office that they are seeking.  We deserve to know about a candidates background.  If there is something in a candidates  background that would cause the electorate to question their suitability for office, the American people deserve to know about it. 

We deserve to know regardless of our political affiliation.  Conservatives deserve to know if a candidate agrees with them on any and all issues.  Liberals and Progressives deserve the same.  Those not associated with either of the major political parties deserve to know the truth.  Shutting out media outlets that are deemed to be “unfriendly” towards a certain candidate contributes to an uninformed electorate.

The United States of America deserves an informed electorate.  To those who vote strictly among party lines, information is not critical.  Unfortunately, there are those among us who would vote for a toaster oven if it was considered to be aligned with the political party of their choosing. 

Democratic candidates should relish the opportunity to be interviewed by anyone associated with Fox News.  If they are not intelligent enough to see through the obvious political bias of the organization, they shouldn’t be seeking an office which requires legitimate and reasoned debate prior to making decisions.  Republicans and Tea Party candidates should absolutely be thrilled with the opportunity to be interviewed by individuals associated with MSNBC, ABC, CNN or any other outlet that they consider to be part of the “lamestream” media.  It is their opportunity to state their case to those whose political leanings are in alignment with the media outlets political philosophy.  If they disagree with the nature of a question, challenge its’ validity.  Let the people watching see that you have enough integrity to see through obvious political bias.  We are not talking about brain surgery here!

That being said, why is it that so many of the so-called “Tea Party” candidates are literally running full speed away from the press?  Sharon Angle of Nevada, Joe Miller of Alaska, and Christine O’donnel of Delaware among others have made every attempt to hide from the inquisitive eyes of the press.  Why would Sharon Angle literally run away from reporters trying to ask questions?  (Although it was an amuzing scene).  Why would Joe Miller refuse to answer questions about his personal background?  What is up with poor Miss O’donnel cancelling visits to the Sunday morning talk shows?  The answer is clear.  They don’t want people to discover what some already know and others refuse to believe.  The candidate has political and personal issues that when discovered would make them look unqualified.

When Christine O’Donnell claims that if elected, the Constitution will be her guide, and then proves that she doesn’t have the faintest idea of what the Constitution says, I think that is something that the good people of Delaware need to know about prior to casting their vote.  Is she qualified?  Listen to her responses and then make an informed decision.

When Sharon Angle’s history in Nevada includes an absolute unwillingness to work with other legislators she was elected to serve with, that is something the people of Nevada should probably understand before voting.  Do we really need another Senator who refuses to work with others while representing our interests?  You decide.

When Joe Miller decides not to “illuminate” the people of Alaska about certain events in his personal and professional life, Alaskan’s are faced with making a political choice based upon half-truths.  How could that possibly be good for the people of Alaska?  Seriously, folks, what do you think about the fact that so-called “security guards” for Joe Miller handcuffed a reporter over the weekend for trying to ask questions of their candidate?  Does that give you any indication that someone is hiding the truth?  Politician’s have made a habit of hiding inconvenient truths.

To those who would vote for the toaster oven as long as it is associated with their political party nothing they could say or do would matter anyway.  To those of us who are not associated with either party, a candidates refusal to answer questions from “unfriendly” press creates doubt that they are in any way different from the politicians that they are trying to replace.

Tea Party candidates make the claim that electing them will make a difference in the direction of the country.  We have more than enough politicians in office now who operate in the shadows and do their best to hide their personal lives, their political contributors, and their voting records. 

At best, candidates who hide from the press during the process of seeking public office, while claiming to be different from those they are seeking to replace, are really no different from those they want to replace.  In that regard, Tea Party candidates offer nothing new to the American electorate.  Their oft-repeated claims that they will “shake things up” in Washington D.C. are no different than the claims made by those who have gone before them.

I can’t vote for a candidate who refuses to allow me to see who he or she really is.  They keep hiding, to the peril of the American electorate.  A candidate who runs from the press is making every attempt to hide their qualifications from the American people.  Doing so while claiming to be different from those already in office, is at best disingenuous, at worst it is lying to the people they claim to want to represent.  In that regard, those hiding have already learned lessons from those who have gone before them.  Despite their claims to the contrary, there is nothing new here!

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