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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

When it comes to things political I might be wrong -- but I doubt it

By David Connell

October 23, 2006 | Having grown up in a staunchly conservative family, I was raised between Rush Limbaugh episodes and shooting guns at the gravel pit. (I assume this is the standard Bible Belt experience.) I was a member of Young Republicans until the age of 15 and sometime around then I realized the truth. The plain and simple fact is, no matter whether you identify yourself as a liberal, or a conservative, you are a hypocrite.

When my mother and I have political discussions and I badmouth Republicans she will give me the argument that no matter how bad a member of the GOP might be, there are certain Democrats that would slit her throat if given the chance. I have to question; is this even a valid argument? I try to rationalize it by thinking to myself that she's just been watching too much Fox News. But maybe it's because I haven't become entrenched in any one way of thinking. We excuse our political leaders' mistakes by throwing stones at the other guy. Shouldn't we expect more from our leaders? If everyone demanded more from them, maybe they wouldn't get away with things they do.

The latest news of Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nevada) shady real estate dealing isn't surprising in the least. It's become par for the course in nearly every level of government.

Archetypal conservatives generally support the death penalty but feel that right-to-die statutes and abortion are mortal sins. Conventional liberals choose to protect the life of trees over that of unborn children, and it seems those who value freedom the most, are the least willing to defend it.

Lately, with the development of 24-hour news channels, some conservative-leaning, others left-leaning, has put spin control within the reaches of both parties all day long. And it's dumbed the argument down to divisive talking heads on "news shows" spewing venom at one another. Everyone is able to find a source of media that reinforces exactly what they already know, or already think they know. It's sad. Ensuring that that all opinions are heard and considered is important to the ability of an informed electorate to make democracy work.

Too many people have so much invested in their political position that they are unable to rationalize what should be simple issues. For example, look at global warming: Republicans still question whether it is caused by emission of fossil fuels. Or rather, that "the science isn't there." It's like having a buddy who loves his girlfriend so much that he can't even imagine that his girl is cheating on him. When you finally tell your buddy that his girl is cheating, he becomes mad at you for saying such a thing. Somewhere down the line your friend buys you a beer and apologizes. I suppose we all have to hope he realizes the truth and apologizes before polar ice caps melt. Er, wait.

Conservatives are notoriously better than liberals at holding the line. Wonder why the political scene has gone so far the right in last few decades? Political tactics aside, it's because conservatives will defend their own, never admitting fault on their side of the aisle. There are still people who are waiting for the weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq, believe me, I lived with them. When Nixon ran in 1968 his platform was education, health care and ending the war in Vietnam. He might as well have been a communist, and he was the Republican. If Nixon would have run in 2004, he would have been John Kerry.

Another thing you'll never see is a Republican support a Democrat. However, it's fairly common to see Democrats support Republicans. There are what are known as "Blue Dogs," Democrats who regularly vote with the Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate. More visible examples of this phenomenon are John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney all of whom are relatively popular among left-leaning individuals. And to be honest I would probably vote for them, unless John F. Kennedy has a son I don't know about.

The biggest way to sling some mud is a nice raunchy sex scandal. I know sex is still a hang-up for most Americans and I suppose I can understand it, but it's still seems stupid to me. People have sex. They always have. That's how we were created. (My apologies to those who support abstinence-only education.) But why are we as Americans never able to respect anyone's privacy? If Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stunk up the Senate bathrooms everyday after his morning cup of coffee and denied it while testifying before Congress, would anyone care? It would be highest of high comedy but, I don't think so. (Imagine the headlines though: "Senator Embattled in Horrible Defecation Scandal") We're all human. Some people even break wind. (Not me.) In retrospect Bill Clinton should have declared his sex life a matter of national security and he could have spent his time finding Bin Laden. (That, or just been faithful to his wife. One of the two.)

I voted for Bush in 2000, by 2004 I'd realized he was an idiot and wore my flip-flops for Kerry. If you can say one thing for Kerry, he certainly wasn't Bush. But folks, don't worry; there is no shame in changing your mind. And it's OK (Read: Better) to make up your mind after hearing all the sides of an argument. Politicians aren't going to change the games they play until people stop turning a blind eye to their shenanigans.

So open your ears. And would it kill you to turn off the TV and read a little? Even if it's just to give you a little historical perspective. Reserve your judgment, and become informed. It will help us all down the road.


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