Who will be left to control the control freaks?
It’s beginning to become predictable. Public figures appear in events but want no independent media coverage of such happenings.
It shouldn’t. The new trend in politics and entertainment is absolute control of the message regardless of the topic.
One of the problems with media and those we cover is people are quick to say things but rarely take the effort to think through what they are saying. The result is something is said in a way that could make a person appear foolish, the print media reduces it to writing and the next words from the mouth of the speaker are they were misquoted.
We experience this often whether a city council race or simply an interview with a member of the community. Frequently our interviews are corroborated by recordings so it is easy to review the tape and see if we were in fact wrong. What is less frequent is speakers who claim to have been misquoted demanding retractions. Once we offer to rewind the tape and let them hear what they said the demands go away but not their continuing portrayal of us as the bad guys.
The problem here is control. When speakers cannot control the message they expel the media and portray them as the bad guys or the opposition or brokers of fake news. Some of the media has shot itself in the foot plenty of times to be fair. But to paint us all in such brush strokes is dangerous, particularly when done by our President. Plenty of credible journalists exist to render equitable renditions of events from Little League baseball to complex national and international events.
To be afraid of what media in a free society will say implies the only message that matters is one that can be completely controlled. If the only thing the media is left to report is a carefully scripted message (read propaganda) then why wouldn’t the thinking public get sick of such drivel?
Last week my son went to a performance in Dallas by the comedian Dave Chappelle. The audience was required to place their cellphones in locked pouches that literally prevented the phones from transmitting any images or recordings from the event. When the event was over the pouches were unlocked. Can you imagine attending an event without cellphone interruption in this day and age?
One of the more interesting storylines from the evening is Chappelle announced his intention to start a fund to help Colin Kaepernick recover lost wages due to his origination of protests during the national anthem at NFL games. Maybe they could call the campaign “Who wants to help a millionaire?” After all he only received $39 million of his record $126 million contract.
I was blown away at an event I attended in Dallas as well. On Tuesday a friend and I attended as guests a luncheon at AT&T stadium in Arlington with Donald Trump Jr. as the keynote speaker. The event was put on by supporters of the University of North Texas. Much ado was made in advance of the event about the younger Trump being a poor choice to represent the school and many faculty members registered protests. The event was privately funded and the media was kept out, or so they thought.
Ironically the UNT journalism school was funded by one of the largest donations in school history by a newspaper owner, who was present at the event.
The two things that blew me away were Trump exceeding my expectations as a speaker and a comment at the end by one of the sponsors.
Trump made an excellent case for being prepared to argue both sides of an issue rather than only preaching to the choir. His case was for critical thinking. He was a well-prepared speaker and generally diplomatic. One of the arguments by many who defended his presence at the event was in support of free speech. As one of our young reporters noted, it seemed the case for free speech was incompatible with a media ban.
The other thing that blew me away was a parting shot by one of the sponsors. He noted correctly the media was just as free to purchase a $5,000 table at the event as any of the other attendees. Case closed. There really wasn’t a media ban.
That sort of non-critical thinking worries me.