Lillian and Delilah prepare for the backlash following their mother’s latest blog post.
“What if I start crying?” asked the surviving wife.
“Well, then I’ll probably just start crying along with you.”
I glanced back at the videographer.
“If we all start bawling, well, then we have a problem.”
The woman, whose Army husband had only months before committed suicide, laughed a little, then settled in to tell me her story.
She cried. I cried. The camera guy kept it together.
She was brave. And I allowed myself to lose objectivity. As I am no longer with the mainstream media, it’s been a personal trend over the past several years. Reacting, that is.
I guess that’s why at 5am yesterday, when I first heard on the radio this president’s rant against the “dishonest” media, I involuntarily snorted, ‘OH MY GOD.’ It’s not the first time we’ve heard it of course. But as I laid there pondering my path to the coffeemaker, it was the first time I doubted my ability to stand in a press box, and not react. I don’t think I could have done it. I would have shaken the shot, pulled a plug or worse, yelled something back at him. The fact that so many are required to keep steadily working while being directly pummeled with insults solidly builds my faith in them.
I’ve always been fascinated and at the same time annoyed by the public’s distain for the media. It’s an easy target because it is inherently accessible. It’s also made to look easy, by the real pros. Those two things, I believe, combine to create an “anyone can do that” attitude. And, unlike performing brain surgery or creating digital apps, it’s all splayed out there for everyone to see and criticize. I remember several conversations with my own parents in which they criticized the media, citing false assumptions, when their own kid, who spent every year since age 16 in a newsroom, was right there to consult. But because they watched the news, they knew better than I, who wrote and produced it. I don’t mean to call them out. They’re just like everyone else.
Calling the media “dishonest,” and pointing at them directly, in a forum like what I’ll call the Phoenix political rally, makes obvious some ignorance about how the sausage is made. So, I offer a brief primer.
In instances of presidential mass coverage, most cameras are on what we call “lock down.” There are usually designated, agreed upon source cameras, which feed all the networks. They cannot move. They must be trained on the president at all times. Most often it’s a live feed, directly to all the networks. If the camera pulls any fast moves everyone is stuck with it. Therefore, whether it is live or an immediate taped play-back, it is a straight feed. There simply is no possibility of “dishonesty,” on the part of the people in the box. From the president’s lips, to your ears. It’s a simple thing.
When he looks into a live, locked down camera and tells his supporters about the “dishonest media,” it’s as if he’s asking folks to disbelieve the words coming out of his mouth, even as they runneth over.
Obviously, various members of the media chose portions of the speech to re-play. Most times all the networks focus on the same things – those things they deem newsworthy. The words of a president who incites a crowd to cry against their senator who has served his country for many years including as a POW and now is quite possibly terminally ill, are newsworthy. Uh, sorry if that amounts to negative coverage. It was a negative happening. A deplorable moment. To ignore it would be irresponsible.
In these cases, the media is present to act as a megaphone, if you will, to deliver the message of this country’s leadership directly to its public. It is not there to “edit him pretty.”
If you are one of the complainers who is tired of the “negative” coverage of your president, consider these two things: If it weren’t for the media, you might not yet even know, among other things, who is the president- you definitely wouldn’t know who’s still on his staff; and if you don’t like what the media is reporting out, you might suggest the president better control what he’s putting in.