Woke up this morning to find that my thoughts about the fights at the Dane County Fair this weekend made for a headline. State Debate is a weekday feature at the Capital Times. I am always humbled when what I write makes for a link on their site.
This is what I first saw in my news feed this morning. Who does not enjoy a headline? The Capital Times’ State Debate continues to be a lively and topical location for readers to get an array of views and opinions.
Paul Fanlund, is the editor and publisher of The Capital Times, and is often a must-read for those who care about politics and governing. One of his most recent columns hit a home run at my home. The reason the article resonated strongly is due to my deep conviction about the role that journalists play in our democracy. There is a reason that at the top of this blog the statement from Walter Cronkite reaches out to my readers.
“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
I very much agree those like Donald Trump from the right, or Bernie Sanders from the left, are much the same when it comes to using the press as a tool to deflect from their own deficiencies. Fanlund drove the point home in a must-read piece.
Look, I don’t give a hoot that voters apparently are deciding that Bernie Sanders has passed his “use by” date, but his effort to drag down our most credible journalists with him is repugnant.
American journalism is fighting a two-front war these days. One front is economic — the advertising models that made journalism so easy to afford have vastly contracted, putting severe pressure on the capacity of newsrooms everywhere.
The other front is the war over journalistic integrity, already under years of attack by a president whose hatred of the media is one of the top two or three pillars of his political brand.
The press reports on what others do and say, and in so doing allows for the nation to be informed as far as the facts are able to carry the story. That oftentimes shows that some politicians are not as smart, capable, or adept at governing as they would have us believe. Instead of snapping at a reporter, or smearing the entire journalism profession, those politicians ought to reflect on their own shortcomings.
American history is a long story as to why the words from Thomas Jefferson, on this matter, are so powerful and true.
The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure. –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.
The Wisconsin State Journal did a most impressive job of reporting on the Yahara Lakes at the same time Donald Trump was demonizing reporters and the press. I wrote a short letter to the newspaper about the week-long series, which published it today in the printed copies. (On a side note the Madison Capital Times used one of my blog posts online and it made for a headline which thrilled me–after all, a byline always makes for smiles.)
With the insightful and informative Yahara Lakes series the Wisconsin State Journal has again proven why newspapers are relevant. No other medium could have tackled the entirety of the stories, which the paper did. Time constraints and consultant-driven broadcasts limits local television news. Investigating and reporting with many column inches has always made newspapers a most important resource for understanding the world around us.
Much has changed over the five decades of my life, but reading a daily newspaper remains the same. Newspapers are more than just a daily record of events that make for historical documentation. They also add a very important sense of commonality that allows us to have some overall reference point as citizens.
Thanks to the reporters and entire staff at the WSJ for doing a continual service with each edition of the newspaper.
I am the first to always tout the city where I live. Madison is home to the well-known UW, a never-boring state government, impressive start-up companies, and some truly engaging and smart people. I like the fact this place has a lot of educated movers and shakers. So I was truly dismayed when reading a local newspaper where the ‘F’ word was indicated with the first letter followed by three dashes.
Not three times.
But FOUR TIMES.
The news story in the Capital Times regarded the visit by Stormy Daniels to Middleton. Written by Jessie Opoien, the opening uses a quote from Daniels which includes the ‘F’ bomb. That Daniels used the word is not shocking, but that it somehow was deemed so essential to the quote itself can be seriously called into question.
The second use of the word was in a quote from one of her handlers. There is no way to make a claim that the inclusion of the word–or the quote itself–had any news worthiness.
The third use of the ‘F’ word was from a quote by another stripper at the club where the event took place.
The fourth time the word made print was to alert readers of the message on the t-shirt of a person at the show.
I read the newspaper story, included in the weekly printed edition of the Cap Times, which lands with my Wisconsin State Journal each Wednesday. To say the least I was not amused. I am a stickler for having reading material that treats the person holding the publication as a valued and educated news consumer. An adult with some taste, and common sense.
There was no news worthy quality, or purpose, for having the ‘F’ word in print. Four Times!
I get it that this nation has slipped somewhere about par with the curb of the average street. I understand the average bar in America is not filled with folks thinking about self respect when they talk. I get it that too many stand-up comics think they are only funny when cussing. I get it that on any street corner in the country one can find a ten-year-old talking trash out loud with friends in ways that did not happen 45 years ago. But when it comes to our sources for news I hold out hope they will not take part in the slippery slide downwards.
I have long sought out those places, where the printed words of my favorite publications, made me think and grow as a person.. Those reads where journalists conveyed the bigger truths about the world and did so with ideas and words that resonated for the ones who subscribed.
So I feel let down by The Capital Times. I feel that once again the lowest common denominator has taken hold of yet one more place where thinking people use to inhabit. I still hold to standards. And I suspect a poll on any street in this city would agree with the words I have printed here in this post.
The Manual Of Style and Usage from The New York Times remains on my desk–just inches away from the keyboard where I now type. And I use it for this blog. They permit, with editors oversight, adding (expletive) in place of a word if it is material to the story and its meaning. But that is a very rare thing to be used.
And in the case of the news story written about Daniels, by Opoien, there is not a shred of purpose for any one of the four “f” words to have made it past the editor.
In 1896, Adolph Ochs who founded the New York Times, proclaimed that the paper would present the news “in language that is parliamentary in good society.’ In other words, keep it clean.
That is not the view shared, any longer, by everyone in the newspaper world.
And as a result we all suffer with the coarsening of our language in the everyday world.
First, and foremost I think about politics, policy, and how government should work each time I sit down to blog. I have been quite dismayed over the past months with the Bernie Sanders campaign and some of his backers on Facebook who state they can not support a nominee other than Sanders in the general election.
Needless to say it is those types of comments which add weight to the mature voices in the Democratic Party who speak of pragmatism. At the end of this process Sanders and his adoring fans will be left with some campaign bunting and a memory that wanes over time.
But what I desire for my nation and my party–a party Sanders only recently joined and now wants to radically change–is a victory this fall by a Democrat for the White House.
I want to win.
Over the weeks I have taken to this blog to register my unease with Sanders and what he is doing by elongating this nominating process. Sanders has exactly zero chance of securing the nomination but can harm the eventual Democratic nominee by his actions. But since he is not a Democrat what the hell does he care?
This week I posted that Democrats need to ask if Sanders is not the modern-day Gene McCarthy? My blog post was picked up and linked by the Capital Times.
History shows what happened when a failed candidate and his youthful, but short-sighted followers, failed to support the eventual nominee. Richard Nixon won the White House, expanded the Vietnam War, undermined the Constitution with all the crimes that fall under the term Watergate, faced articles of impeachment, and resigned.
Those words are simply the truth as history clearly proves.
Today Paul Fanlund, Editor of the Capital Times, nails if perfectly in a column as to why he has differences with the Bernie Sanders campaign. I absolutely concur with his words and sentiments. He too echoes back to the time when Nixon won due to short-sighted reasoning.
Even in liberal Madison, many progressives regard Clinton as the logical successor to Obama, and more importantly, as the candidate with the widest general election appeal. Some of us remember how Richard Nixon got elected president in 1968 because liberals just couldn’t get excited about Hubert Humphrey. The result? The Vietnam War — and the military draft — went on for years.
That brings me to Ralph Nader, who, like Sanders, remains a darling of the far left for his ideological purity.
Four decades ago, I recall my unbridled admiration as I heard Nader speak in person on Capitol Hill. Nader was already a celebrated consumer advocate and I was in graduate school in Washington, D.C.
But today, I could hardly be more disdainful of Nader.
In a recent opinion column in the Washington Post, Nader defended Sanders against criticism by Democratic leaders after the senator said he was running as a Democrat to raise money — not, apparently, out of affinity for party principles.
Think about that: Sanders apparently believes he has the charisma and the message to recreate a party substantially to the left of the one that’s been led by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. That party is apparently the one Nader sneeringly refers to in the Post as the “corporatist, hawkish establishment.”
In that column, Nader also described himself as “one of the more successful third-party presidential candidates in recent U.S. history.”
Yes, Nader’s right, if your definition of success is depriving Democrat Al Gore of enough votes in 2000 to defeat George W. Bush. That Bush victory, in turn, delayed action against global warming, brought the unspeakable carnage and ongoing quagmire in Iraq and helped set the stage for a financial crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.
That is not my definition of success.
With true believers such as Nader and Sanders leading the way, you say you want a revolution?
You can count me out.
Without doubt one of the best–and essential–reads from the past week was Paul Fanlund’s article in The Capital Times. I post a few select paragraphs that really are just perfectly stated.
More precisely, he is a small, divisive, narrow-minded career politician who always has and always will put his political self-interest first, a man who has been running for something even before he dropped out of college and regards a second term as governor as merely a catapult into the 2016 presidential competition.
He always acts on behalf of the privileged while telling the middle class that government is their real enemy.
No, Walker’s legacy will not be what he accomplished, which is negligible, but how badly he has divided us. Sadly, there is no longer a bipartisan or independent quality to Wisconsin; Walker can claim that as his most enduring handiwork.
Walker’s ideological agenda has ignored our history and our traditions, the kind reflected in the names of leaders through the decades: Lucey, Nelson, Proxmire, Dreyfus, Earl, Thompson, Feingold, Doyle and Kohl.
Some were liberal, some conservative.
I knew them all and wrote extensively about several. What they all had in common, what drove each, was trying to do a good job for all of the people of Wisconsin. They disagreed on how, but they worked across party lines, governing as if they actually cared about and represented all of us.