Sunday, July 26, 2009

where have you gone, walter cronkite? a nation turns its loney eyes to you

walter cronkite died. did anyone notice? yeah, i guess we mostly all did. they spent a fair amount of time reporting it. about 5 percent of the tv airtime devoted to michael jackson. and here was an icon. probably the best, most respected television journalist ever. and i don't just mean "up until now". no one will be better. from kennedy's nomination in 1960, to the assassination. from man on the moon, to vietnam, to the gulf war, and all things in-between, chronkite reported it all in an unbiased fashion, but still managed to do his reporting with emotion. he seemed real to us. and someone we could depend on for honest news reporting.

i know i'm not alone when i say that i don't think there are any honest news reporters anymore. no matter which network i watch, i always feel that the prominent news folks are giving us the news from their slant. or perhaps the slant of the network. too many anti-bush stories. too many pro-obama stories. way too many michael jackson stories. and all the while they seem to be stretching the truth. exaggerating. lying by omission. cronkite never did that.

it's interesting now to see the news slant on . . . hmmm, forget his name, the professorial "scholar" in cambridge. started out with the media reporting the story in such a way that left no doubt that it was a pure case of racial profiling. and i recall the first time i heard the story i'm thinking . . . wait, a fella is seen breaking into a house - no matter his race, creed or color, he's breaking into a house. would not that cause suspicion? then when confronted by police the scholar refuses to produce identification? if i'm a cop, that's also gonna give me cause for concern.

now i wasn't there, so whatever else happened is merely conjecture. the media reported that the cops involved harrassed professor scholar. the cops report that professor scholar became belligerent, called them names, cast about disparaging remarks regarding their mothers. all the while, the media stops just short of stating the police were racially driven. totally out of line. and the morning show on cbs, the today show on nbc, and good morning america on abc, as well as larry king, jon stewart, and kermit the frog invite professor scholar on their programs so that this travesty of justice is forever on the forefront or everyone's minds.

then two things happened on the same day. one, someone determined that the sergeant in charge was really a pretty good guy. very good record. even taught classes to other law enforcement folks on how not to be a party to racial profiling. and then our president, mister barry obama, when asked about the incident (i gotta mention here . . . the members of the media asking obama about this issue at this press conference was just asking for trouble. the question was an extreme case of racial profiling that goes unnoticed. had we had a white president in the white house, this question would not have been asked.) admitted, first of all, that he didn't know the details. then went on to state that the police acted "stupidly".

well, barry, i have to think that you acted "stupidly" in making that statement. i may not agree with you on every issue, but i certainly respect the way you conduct yourself, and i've been very impressed about the way you field and respond to questions. you've always said the right things.

but to accuse the cambridge police of acting "stupidly" was wrong on several levels. and when proceeded by the disclaimer about not knowing the details? well, that can only be termed "racial profiling". one has to wonder if, were the police officer involved a minority, what would have happened. lots of speculation could go on there.

but these two events served to alter the direction of media reporting. basically, abc, nbc, cbs, larry king, phil donahue - oh, he's not around any more - have just stopped talking about it. there was some mention of barry o recognizing he could have "chosen his words better". that's a phrase we're using a lot lately. it's intended to be almost an apology, but when saying that you're not admitting any wrong-doing. then, with barry having said that, the issue's moved away from page one news. and that's a very good thing.

and that's where i think it would have been initially had walter chronkite been reporting.

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