Take Me Out To The Ballgame
One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out
Baseball; the Boys of Summer, America’s Pastime, Every Game is Game Seven. All standard, tried and true, all American slogans directed at the description of a tradition that runs deep through every aspect and every area of our country. Then there’s my favorite:
It’s About Playing Catch and Throwing Strikes
Here’s where shoe-leather meets cowhide, or should in my opinion. It is time for the media to start throwing strikes. For far too long now reporters, and here I’m particularly speaking to the on-air talent, not the news readers but the actual beat reporters whose aching feet must blister as much as our indignation these days as they chase after an elusive thing called “fact”. Truth, as our parents drilled into our psyches, was what they deserved while we sweated, mumbled, and fidgeted our way through a helter-skelter thought process of confabulated half-facts while trying to justify whatever scenario we had just been caught dead in our tracks infracting.
Today’s politicians and their alter-ego talking headless are a study in textbook lawyer-ese and ill-practiced, faked (perjured?) testimony when asked virtually any question by any reporter. There are no answers. There are no facts. There is no truth; according to them. A yes or no question? A treatise on tempermant. Challenged by an actual, proven, fact? A PhD level defense of deniability.
Tom Price, our Good Ole Boy Secretary of Health and Human Services is example number one of obfuscation and not-even-plausible deniability. An orthopedic surgeon (you do the income math) was elevated from the backwoods of Georgia’s 6th to the head of the class and, as such, the point man for the raging inferno of a debate that is now “healthcare” or; How To Screw Obama’s Legacy 101. Price now helms the unenviable tiller of the sinking ship of fools and has to articulate the administration’s stance, policy, and positions on their “Make America Great Like it Was” Throwback Thursday rendition of the pill they want us to swallow….and pay for the privilege while we’re choking on it.
You’d think that if you have managed to Peter Principle yourself onto the United State’s Cabinet you might have done a refresher course (Cliff Notes?) on ethics, management skills or, as a doctor, a reasonable facsimile of a bedside manner. After all, doctors have to deliver really, really, bad news all the time to grieving families in crisis-fraught health situations. This should be textbook.
Secretary Price seems to exemplify the current administration lack of ability or desire to answer even the most simple yes or no questions, and he does it in repeatedly bad fashion. Recently in in a press scrum at the West Virginia State house, Dan Heyman, a reporter for the Public News Service, repeatedly tried to ask Mr. Price a question. “After persisting in his question for nearly a minute, Mr. Heyman was pulled to the side by officers of the West Virginia Division of Protective Services, also known as the Capitol Police, handcuffed and charged with a misdemeanor count of willful disruption of governmental processes. He spent eight hours in a local jail before the news service posted a $5,000 bail for his release.”
Dana Bash, a mainstay of CNN’s on-air, Capital Hill talent, recently gave Mr. Price pass after pass as she tried to elicit simply one declarative sentence from the Secretary. According to the website Crooks and Liars; “CNN’s Dana Bash gave HHS Secretary very little push back as he spewed one lie after another about the cruel cuts to Medicaid being proposed in the Republicans’ so-called health care bill.
Disturbing? Yes. But the real issue to me is the apparent total lack of an editorial mandate or even a plan by ALL the news agencies as to how to handle these prevaricating, child-like, refusniks. Again, when Bash actually DID push Price on exactly how much money the Senate health care bill would save HIM in taxes (remember, he’s an orthopedic surgeon), he not-so-artfully ducked, weaved, dodged, and shifted away from the question and changed the focus and the trajectory of the interview once again, successfully. She asked three times. In a row. And then she meekly moved on to another pabulum question that allowed Price to spew more rhetoric and divert her, and consequently the viewing audience, from the follow up questions that we were ALL screaming at the TV screen.
So here is my thought.
Rather than the press simply playing a game of softball catch with this slimy team that loves to say they control everything in Washington, why not switch up the batting order and throw strikes at them instead. Every time.
If a politician refuses to give a straightforward answer after multiple offers of a softball question…throw them a strike and end the interview. Tell them, on air, in an unquestionably firm (but polite) manner, that they are ending the interview because of their own lack of adequate response to the question that they, and their audience, want answered. Then have a well-crafted editorial segment queued up that explains the outlet’s refusal to keep playing the “game” the way the politicians want them to.
From now on they are going to play by the rules that journalistic responsibly and the public’s right to know demand. I can see great “B” roll of every outlet having their best and brightest, hair and makeup in tow, positioned in front of the Capital, the White House, The Supreme Court, wherever, explaining to the viewing world how, as reporters, their job is to ask the tough question AND get the answers. If they don’t, they will move on to the next unwilling spokes-head and ask them the same questions and end the interview the same way if the stonewalling continues.
A bullshit-free zone that will only tolerate well vetted facts, presented in context, for the viewers to evaluate and thereby stop this carnival creep show that always degenerates into the Tedium of Talking Points.
Throw Strikes. Take the Outs. Leave the catcher’s mitts at home.