Tag Archives: Obama

Gotcha!

So, I have no idea if Kanye West is a jackass. I don’t know him. I know that taking the microphone from someone who just won an award and basically yelling out that she didn’t really deserve that award is a pretty jackass thing to do. But as to whether he is a full out jackass in his day-to-day life — beats the hell out of me.

But the fact that President Obama called him a jackass, and that was instantly twittered or tweeted or, the term I prefer, “twoked” around the world, illustrates a  pretty big point I have made over and over to the people who I speak to as a journalist — there is NO SUCH THING as off the record.

Mr. President, you are talking to REPORTERS. You’re on the record.

Last year, I wrote what I would like to refer to as a pretty “scathing” article (that’s a fun word — “scathing” — say it with me — “scathing”) regarding the city administrator where I work. Seems Mr. Administrator was irritated with me as I questioned why agenda items were being mysteriously left off of the AGENDA. Flustered, he began a tirade of  “So, chastise me, it’s my fault, I’m the city administrator” and “Maybe because I didn’t want to chastise myself in public” and  “Maybe I didn’t want to show my lack of professionalism by not bringing it up. I don’t know why I didn’t do it. I can’t answer that question” and “In the mad rush of the 11th hour I didn’t get it on there, that’s my mistake.”

First — I never got the 11th hour thing, meetings are every other week. But I digress. After this article was printed, everyone from the police chief to my Dad told me I had made the administrator look like an ass. But I most certainly did not. He made himself look like an ass. I just printed it. The administrator eventually called me, hollered at me, HUNG UP on me only to call me back. He said, “I thought we were just having a casual conversation.” I had to remind him, we’re not buddies. I’m a reporter. Asking you questions. You’re on the record.

(Just a little FYI here — this man then refused to talk to me for a year, and you know what, it didn’t affect my ability to report on city news even one little bit.)

Public official + talking to a reporter = ON THE RECORD.

Of course there are exceptions. You certainly don’t want to quote everything someone says to you. This is your bread and butter as a reporter, and if you want people to talk to you, you must be respectful. You must respect their boundaries, at least to a degree. If someone specifically tells me “off the record” or “please don’t print that,” if it is a reasonable request, of course I will honor it. For example, if they say, “off the record, I think that city official is a total jerk,” there’s no point in priniting it, other than to cause trouble, which isn’t respectable journalism. That’s why I’m confused why people were so hurried to repeat the President’s comment. It only serves to stir up trouble, for everyone, inlcuding the people who let it out. But — it wasn’t LEAKED. He said it. To a reporter.

Now, if someone were to say to me, “off the record, I’m the one who stole all the money,” then clearly, all bets are off. That’s getting printed, buddy.

If someone will only speak to you off the record, sure, that’s good for background information. But if you cannot get the information verified, and they still won’t go “on the record,” then you’re wasting your time. I doubt that, had I been there, that I would have posted a blog entry about what the President said. But I certainly would have gossiped about it with other people. It was the President, after all. And I don’t know why Terry Moran thought a Twitter post with his opinion on something that he didn’t hear directly was a good idea, career wise. I mean, really, Terry, if that is you real name? Really? You want to burn a bridge… with the PRESIDENT? Smart move.

This whole thing reeks of “Gotcha Journalism,” a phrase which I find to be completely and utterly ridiculous (tangent again — Sarah Palin sure does a good job making up catch phrases for things that don’t exist. Gotcha Journalism, Death Panels. She should start her own urban dictionary). There’s no “gotcha” in it. YOU ARE TALKING TO A REPORTER. No matter how embarrassed people are when they get busted saying something stupid, they still weren’t “”gotcha-ed.” They said what they were thinking. They just happened to say it to someone with a recording device and a handy little notebook. There’s really nothing I can say or ask that will elicit a response from someone which isn’t somehow true. There isn’t a question I can ask that can suddenly make them blurt out something that they absolutely didn’t mean to say.

As journalists, we need to find a balance between what the public needs to know and what is good old fashioned gossip. But if you’re rolling, then they are on the record. It’s not the journalists who need to be careful. It’s the people who they are speaking to who need to think twice before opening their mouths.

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Open the door and in rolls the hate

My husband and I often like to visit the website “Fox Nation.” It’s the site put up by Fox, apparently some sort of response to sites like News Hounds, where they basically put up blogs and opinion pieces as if they were actual news coverage and invite the public to comment on them. We like to visit the site the same way we like to watch auto racing — we’re only doing it to see a massive wreck.

So today there was no mention of Joe Wilson calling the President a liar during last night’s speech (which, by the way, I was listening to the speech on the radio, so I assumed there had been a visitor in the chamber who yelled it out. When I got home and saw it was a congressman, I just thought, Sweet Conspiracy Theory, what the hell is WRONG with these people). But there IS a post about how the President called Sarah Palin a liar!

Of course, he didn’t actually say, “Sarah Palin is a liar” but I mean, we all knew what he was getting at.

Still, the lovelies at Fox Nation were out in full crazy force about this one. But my very favorite response was this one:

A lying theiving negro thug from chicago calling a white beauty pagent contestant from Alaska ANYTHING is unbeleiveable. His presence in the white house has diminished the dignity and honor of the office to lows even lower than that white trash rat Bill Clinton. What a whiney uppity negro.

Jim was pretty upset by this nonsense. I mean, I don’t know why it surprised him. The pretty people at Fox Nation have refered to the President of the United States as a terrorist, an ape, a monkey and even a spade, and when they do, someone usually responds with an LOL. Then they insist there’s no issue with race. Ok then.

However, my real beef with the above post at the Fox Nation is not the disparaging remarks about the President. I think at this point, I am immune to their temper tantrums and racist name calling. What really caught my eye was the disrespect aimed at former Governor Palin. You see, while this poster was attempting to attack the president, he was actually attacking Mrs. Palin.

A white beauty pageant contestant from Alaska — that is how he described her (although I spelled it correctly). After Sarah Palin’s political career, this is what this poster got out of it. She is a white beauty pageant contestant.

Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, as we all know. Her experience as a small town mayor was mocked a little during the election, but as someone who covers a small town for the local newspaper, let me tell you, it’s not an easy job. She then went on to chair the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, an agency that oversees digging for oil in Alaska. Then she became not only the youngest but the first female governor of Alaska — and she did it by beating the INCUMBENT governor in the primary.

While in office as both a mayor and a governor, Palin took a pay cut, and she drastically reduced spending. She passed a bi-partisan ethics reform bill. And lest we not forget, Sarah Palin was the first female Republican nominated for the Vice Presidency of the United States, and the first Alaskan on a major party ticket.

Yet this guy calls her a “white beauty pageant contestant from Alaska.”

Sure, Palin has controversy and mis-steps up the yin yang. The Bridge to Nowhere (I was for it before I was against it). Getting her sister’s husband fired. DEATH PANELS! blah blah blah. I’m not a fan of the woman. But to reduce her accomplishments to “beauty pageant contestant” flies in the face of plain old ignorance. This Fox Nation-ite’s post is equal parts disparaging to both the President and to Mrs. Palin — it’s racist AND sexist.

I’m not sure how well this county can progress when so many people literally cannot see past what people look like, no matter who those people are.

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It’s over, and my God, it was worse than we thought!

Actual quote from Barack Obama to the children of America: “I expect great things from you.”

See? He is demanding things of our children. The President of the United States just told my children that they must take responsibility for their own education. Indoctrination complete. I am going to take my children to get fitted for their foil hats now. It’s our only hope.

Honestly, Joe Watkins on MSNBC just said that sure, the speech was good and had a good message and all that, but I mean, what is this going to lead to? I mean, now, the President is going to use this as a platform to schedule MORE speeches to today’s kindergartener, where he will talk about gay marriage and health care and the stimulus and the death panels. Today it’s stay in school, tomorrow it’s support the public option! He’s unstoppable now! He called it a “slippery slope,” which frankly, is a term far more stupid and far more overused than “it is what it is” and “my bad” combined.

Joe added that the president was a gifted and charismatic speaker who speaks with authority and persuasion. So…… only presidents who are BAD speakers should speak to children. Because your children should never be impressed or persuaded… by the President.

In Joe’s defense, how exactly are the angry anti-school-speechers of the nation going to defend their stance after a speech that expressed the necessity of today’s youth to advance their education and take control of their futures.

But no — we’ll just stick to losing our diddy minds. Again.

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Stay in school? How dare you, Mr. President. How dare you.

I received an e-mail from the Superintendent of my son’s school district over the holiday weekend, which read in part:

I am [writing]  today to share how we are planning to handle the upcoming address to students that is scheduled to be delivered by President Obama on September 8. I have asked that staff follow our typical process for selecting any instructional resource. We first preview instructional materials and make a professional determination regarding whether the content is appropriate and aligned with our instructional goals. With this, we will not be showing the President’s address as a live feed but will review the video and make a determination after the live presentation.

The e-mail goes on to say that teachers will contact parents and tell them if the video is to be used.

Has everyone lost their diddy minds?

The Superintendent of my son’s school district actually sent out an e-mail that contained the phrase, “how we are planning to handle the upcoming address to students that is scheduled to be delivered by President Obama.” To HANDLE it? The district needed to examine how to HANDLE it when the President of the United States wanted to send a message to kids? The SUPERINTENDENT said that the district will need to “make a professional determination regarding whether the content is appropriate and aligned with our instructional goals.” What the hell? This is not the change I wanted. Where the hell did my country go?

Let’s start with the obvious. The president’s speech was always going to be available as a televised feed. It was never mandatory that any school district play it live, or play it at all for that matter. The president was going to speak to schools kids. The end. If, for example, a district was starting today with a shortened day, they certainly weren’t being told they must keep kids in school for extended hours just to watch it, and it better air live. They were told, the president has a message for school kids.

Then came the crazies. Indoctrination! Not my child! Hey, here’s a great idea. Let’s go ahead and break it down. We’ll go with dictionary.com for easy reference, and we’ll use the first definition offered for each:

indoctrinate – to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view.

doctrine – a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.

principle – an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct.

ideology – the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.

imbue – to impregnate or inspire, as with feelings, opinions, etc.

partisan – biased

biased – partisan

Okay, I did those last two without looking it up, I confess. But taking these, let’s REPHRASE the term, indoctrinate, and then use it in a sentence so I can understand clearly the need to protest the President’s speech.

So Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity say, “I don’t want Obama to indoctrinate the youth of America.” The translation then, is, “I don’t want Obama to instruct the youth of America with any accepted policies or codes of conduct or beliefs that guide the country and I ESPECIALLY don’t want him to impregnate the children.” Woah…. no WONDER everyone is so up in arms. The President wants to impregnate our kids. Damn.

This truly exemplifies my frustration, but not just my frustration with the wackadoodles who insist that the President was somehow going to brainwash our kids with his partisan message of STAY IN SCHOOL! I think my real frustration is starting to steer AWAY from the Becks and the Hannitys of the world (I mean really, how can I be frustrated with people who make me laugh so much?), and is slowly being put squarely on the shoulders of this administration. Enough with the Gumby act already. You won. There is simply no need to be so damn bendy.

For all the nonsense I hear about how President Obama somehow lacks integrity, he sure is sticking to his word. His door has remained open to all voices of dissention. His door has remained open to the naysayers and the angry and the fist pounding and the whiners. His door has remained open to the angry right who DEMAND he listen to them blubber away. His door has remained open to the ideals of people who insist he is a Kenyan-born terrorist who wants to “indoctrinate” the youth. Mr. President… close the damn door.

Say what you will about Bush. We all pointed our fingers and laughed when he uttered the words, “I’m the decider.” But you know what? He was right. He was elected (well, at least ONCE anyway) to the office, and he took the reigns. Sure, he made his decisions based on not just his own experiences and observations but on those of the people he surrounded himself with, and there is obviously a whole different can of worms there. However, he made unpopular decisions in the face of dissent because HE WAS THE DECIDER. So, Mr. President, I hate to say it but, follow his damn lead. Just do it better.

Decide already. Decide that you aren’t going to hem and haw over health care because town hallers like the sounds of their voices screeching about. Decide that you are going to push another stimulus if it will truly help the economy even if Republicans flail their arms about like morons. Decide you are going to appoint the political advisers you want and need even when Glen Beck screams the word “CZAR” at you — but seriously, look a little closer at their resumes, already, because you are killing me with some of this stuff. DECIDE already. It’s your job. Because truly, the only voice of dissention out there isn’t that of reasonable debate. It’s that of those who challenge your motives when you suggest that working hard in school is a good thing. How dare you, sir. I won’t let your message of hope infect MY child!

As the broadcast from Wakefield High School begins, I plan now to sit and watch. And record it. It’s too important to let some teachers and superintendents decide if my child will watch. I’ll make sure he sees it here at home.

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