I’ve ridden the wave. The Liking-George W. Bush-Not-Liking George W. Bush wave.
The Matt Lauer special that ran last night has me questioning the ride. Each crest and trough was determined by what I was gleaning from the news media. Whether is was Fox News singing his praises or SNL parodies or CNN quick to point out moments that seemed like weaknesses in the poor man.
These little soundbites didn’t paint an accurate picture. And logically, I knew that then and I know that now. Yet I still formed an opinion. Good. Bad. Indifferent. It was all I could go on.
Last night, George W. Bush spoke with the candor one can only use after a president leaves office. After the fact. In hindsight. And it wasn’t all pretty. He acknowledged his failures and weaknesses. He spoke of what he would do differently and what he wouldn’t change.
“You may make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you start blaming someone else.”–Anonymous.
I was impressed with his candor. His honest reactions to criticism and blame. And he never blamed anyone else for his choices. He never used Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld as scapegoats. He owned each and every action he made as President of the United States.
He spoke with such sincerity of the two sides to every decision he made. With some of his toughest decisions, he laid out the facts he had and the options he considered. Then he explained why he chose option A or option B.
What surprised me the most was my own reaction after the interview had ended. Logic tells us that humans are fallible. That presidents make mistakes. But we expect our world leaders to be perfect. We want our presidents to be perfect. Listening to President Bush last night I began putting myself in his shoes and wondering what in the world I would do, given the same mind-boggling situations. I decided that I would have made some of the same mistakes and that maybe some of his mistakes weren’t mistakes after all.
Walk a mile in a man’s shoes. I remind myself of this all the time. Who are we to criticize someone when we don’t have all the facts? Isn’t it impossible to form an opinion when the media chooses what we hear? Who am I to deem President Bush a success or a failure?
President Obama deserves the latitude and consideration that I didn’t afford our last president. Deciding whether I agree or disagree with his policy and choices will be difficult without hearing from him exactly how he came to his decisions. But it’s my responsibility to sift through the, albeit biased, information and come to a compassionate conclusion. I need to remind myself that hindsight is 20/20 and to be careful in my judgements.
Instead of riding the media wave, I need to step back onto the sand and take in the bigger picture.
Getting Your Blog Posts Via Facebook: The Ultimate Lazy Writing Move
One of the things that annoys me about television journalism is “man on the street” interviews about important subjects. First of all, I live near a big, metropolitan city in the south. Oh heck, I’ll just say it. I live near Atlanta. Watching the evening news is painful. When the Michael Vick story was big every stereotypical impoverished white person or black person was on the news giving their often inarticulate opinion. And then, because the station is based in Atlanta, their clip would make it on CNN.
I sometimes wonder if the producers are just having a little fun, spicing up their already boring day, by choosing the people with the heaviest southern accents, or poor grammar, or ridiculous comments regarding les news du jour.
And then, of course, there’s Fox News (not based in Atlanta, thank God) with their inane banter and shallow commentary on newsworthy events. I don’t want to hear from the man on the street. I certainly don’t want to hear the opinions of news journalist wannabes who got the job because they looked good on camera.
Just give me the news, for God’s sakes. Give me the facts and let me decide how I feel about it. I’m not a lemming. I don’t need to hear how Joe Blow feels before I can decide what I think about the situation in Iran.
So, I read most of my news. But even that can be tricky. I’ll be reading along and mid-way through I realize I’m reading opinion, thinly disguised as fact. By the end of the article, I’m both sure that it’s opinion and I’m disgusted. If the topic really interests me, I’ll Google it and sift through fact and fiction until I get a clear picture. But what a pain in the fingers.
Imagine my surprise when I find an article, online, promising The 13 Things That Blah, Blah, Blah (I’m not going to name it. It wasn’t that great of an article and I don’t want to hurt the blogger’s – dare I say writer’s? – feelings.)
The article gave a cursory overview of the topic in one or two paragraphs and then……
…wait for it……
…wait for it…..
Facebook fans wrote the rest.
Oh, sure. The writer (I use this term loosely) compiled the responses. But items #1, #2, #3 and so on were quotations via Facebook.
An entire article based on Joe and Jane Blows from Facebook. Their opinion. Not even a collective study of the most 13 Blah, Blah, Blahs. Just 13 random opinions that were gathered from a Facebook page.
Now that’s the ultimate lazy writing move.
And if I ever get a case of terminal writer’s block?
She might be on to something.
Filed under Blogging, Observations
Tagged as CNN, commentary, facebook, fact vs. opinion, FOX News, journalism, journalist, man on the street interviews, news, writer's block