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Friday, March 24, 2017

News by 20-second sound bites

Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008, at 10:01 AM

As a political junkie, I've been following the national presidential campaign pretty closely, and trying to either read the transcripts of speeches or catch the full speeches on CSPAN.

Barack Obama has been taking some hits lately over comments his former pastor has made, but CNN carried a full hour of Wright defending his remarks, and it was more than interesting. For those who watched it, they saw a highly intelligent man, with VERY strong opinions, but not a raving maniac.

He made a couple of good points about "20-second sound bites," noting for example, that the You Tube clip everybody has been seeing about him saying the U.S. was partially responsible for 9/11 was him actually quoting the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. That part failed to make the 20-second sound bite.

And the next day, before the National Press Club, when some reporters started questioning him about his comments he asked for a show of hands as to how many actually saw the entire CNN report, and nobody raised their hands. "How can you ask me questions, then," he demanded. Good point, even if a lot of what else he said was, well, a little outrageous at times.

It got me thinking. The other day, I got home late from work, missed the 5-6 p.m. news broadcasts, so I turned to the 24-hour news channels.

And couldn't find any news.

Not one was actually broadcasting objective news. What I saw was nothing but commentary shows.

I began to wonder if anybody actually had any trained objective journalists working for them. All we get these days are pundit's opinions disguised as news, and half the time, since I've either seen the original speeches or read the transcripts, I wonder if these guys are even looking at anything more than a 20-second sound bite before making up their minds what to rant and rave about. We seem to have devolved from reporting to rumor mongering.

And I kind of wonder why anything Wright says should make a difference in the first place, other than helping fill air time, since his comments really don't have anything to do with what the issues the candidates must address as they offer their solutions to solving our nation's problems. Let's hope McCain doesn't wind up having to defend the comments of say, Jerry Falwell, for example.

God knows I certainly wouldn't want to be held responsible for some of the comments made by some of my friends or associates. Some of my best friends are a lot more radical, to either the left or the right, than I am, and I cringe sometimes at some of the things they say (while defending their right to say them, even if I disagree).

Should any of us, in particular a candidate, be held accountable for the pronouncements of people we associate with? I sure hope not.

Only in American politics....

* * *

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I really hope we wind up with a McCain/Obama race. I think the voters will get two clearly different approaches to the various problems our country has, and just as importantly, I think such a race would focus on the issues, not silly side matters.

And I truly believe it would be the cleanest race in U.S. history, with the issues, for once, actually dominating.

I offer two examples of that belief:

When Obama was given an opportunity, as a result of a question at his last debate with Clinton, to attack her on her "war stories," Obama passed, noting that wasn't relevant to the issues that needed to be discussed.

And when the North Carolina Republican Central Committee launched essentially a mudslinging attack ad against Obama, McCain asked them to pull it (which they did).

Mudslinging usually misdirects and confuses the voters (it's designed to do that). But that's not what McCain or Obama want. They want the voters to make good decisions based on their actual positions, and they'd like the media and the public to stay focused and on point about those issues and positions.

How wonderfully refreshing.

I like the integrity that both men display, and I think both are more interested in working for the betterment of all our citizens than they are in merely achieving power.

Which once again, is wonderfully refreshing -- and possibly unique in the annals of U.S. political history.

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Brian S. Orban
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