More to come from the QCFM

Basically I have more ideas and thoughts for this blog than I have energy and free time. That’s part of why my Twitter feed (@QCFamilyMan) is so active. Microblogging is just easier.
But this blog is very much part of my plans in the immediate future. I’m plotting and scheming behind the scenes and am hoping to have some things to roll out soon, likely in early-to-mid December.

So please bookmark this page. I think 2011 is going to be an active year.

Olbermann suspension should raise questions

Keith Olbermann, courtesy Soul Brother, FilmMagic

Oh no he didn't...get permission.

The internet nearly exploded yesterday when the news came down: Keith Olbermann had been suspended – indefinitely and without pay – by MSNBC. The reason? He donated to three Democrats and failed to obtain proper approval from NBC News execs.

Wait. Keith Olbermann has liberal leanings?

One point needs to be made clear, something I’ve seen missing in some stories about the Olbermann Intermission. The suspension isn’t for the donations, so much as for Olbermann’s violation of company policy. He simply broke the rules and is now paying the price.

Reaction has been, mostly, predictable. Those to the left of center are outraged by the move, while those to the right say it proves the liberal bias of the media. (That claim, of course, ignores the fact that News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.) But this is not the part of the incident that intrigues me. There is a larger question here that I think deserves examining.

To what extent do we want those involved in the news media involved in the political process?

Olbermann is surely not the first newsman/commentator to donate to a political campaign. Indeed, MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough is said to have donated to Republican House candidate Derrick Kitts, of Oregon, in 2008. The ubiquitous Pat Buchanan has made over $2,000 in political donations himself.

And those are just the tangible, paper donations that we can place a value on. There are other, in-kind, contributions that some attempt to pass off as “news.” Sean Hannity, for instance, ran “Meet the Candidate” segments on his radio show during the run-up to the midterms, introducing the candidates, letting them plead their case to the radio audience and give their Web address to plead for donations. I don’t recall him interviewing a single Democrat.

No, that’s not a cash donation. But it amounts to an extended, nationwide radio commercial that most candidates could never afford and it doesn’t seem to offend anyone.

The reality is that no human being, no matter their occupation, is without bias. We expect – for the most part – those who work in news media to operate in their work sphere without one, and that’s completely appropriate. But what about when they’re off the clock?

I think we should want our journalists to have private opinions. We should want them to cast educated ballots on every single election day. We should want them to engage in the political process when they are not performing their jobs. There must be some rules, of course. Outward displays of political support – bumper stickers, yard signs and what-not – are not appropriate. The same can be said of actively stumping for a particular candidate or issue.

But what tacet, financial displays of support? Do members of the media completely forfeit that right to financially support causes and candidates while they are employed? Is a check better or worse than using one’s radio or TV show to give a candidate a free platform, or using your celebrity to assist a candidate in raising money?

These are the questions we should be discussing.


Election thoughts

I voted.

I voted, so now I can complain.

Last night was something special. It was either a typical mid-term election, where the balance of power once again swings back the other way, or it was a major tidal change in American politics. A lot of that depends on which cable news station you prefer.

Now the Republicans have the House and they’ve closed the gap in the Senate. I have a new senator (Roy Blunt) and representative (Billy Long) serving me in congress and a new face on the Greene County commission (Jim Viebrock).

But what does it all mean?

I’ve put some thought to this today and I’m equal parts cautiously optimistic and aggressively pessimistic. The Republicans are saying a lot of the right things right now. It’s the old “I’m sorry, baby. I learned my lesson. This time’ll be better, I promise.” And, as a born-and-raised conservative, I want to believe them.

But there are thorns on that olive branch they’re extending. Rep. John Boehner, the future Speaker of the House, has already said the Republicans will confront the Democrats when they don’t agree with “the people.” It’s that part that scares me. Who are “the people” he’s talking about? How will he decide what the people want? If the public turns favorable on health care reform, will they back off? I’m doubtful.

Perhaps the most telling Republic quote of this election cycle comes from Mitch McConnell, in an interview with National Journal.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

I have no doubt that he means it, and that’s what bothers me. If things turn around – and there’s reason to believe they will – the Republicans stand to lose some momentum going into the 2012 elections and may even fail to reclaim the White House. So this is the moment of truth: Will they throw themselves into real reform to ensure the country is on the right track, hoping they’ll reap the credit in 2012? Or will they continue to obstruct and sandbag, and use a faltering economy to push for bigger gains.

The adventure beings for all of us in January.

The fine crew at Ancillary Adams has a take on the elections. You can view it here.


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