Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Unbiased News? What's That?"

Maybe I was too young and naive... and not cynical enough, but I always thought that news should be delivered the way Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite did it. If you're not in your 50's yet, you're asking, "Who?" Just like the other day, when I was showing my son and his 21 year old girlfriend some old photos. I said, "This is me in Viet Nam at the Bob Hope Christmas Show at Chu Lai in 1968." I knew for sure I was "an older gentleman," when she said, "Who is Bob Hope?"
Back in high school (1959-1963), we were taught that "journalists" operated from a strong code of ethics. If not fully disclosed as "an opinion piece," all reporting was to be "fair and unbiased." We certainly have been whistling and skipping away from that quaint notion for some time now, haven't we? That sort of thing went bye-bye when the guy stopped coming out of the gas station to ask, "Fill er' up? Let me clean that windshield, check your oil, top off your washer fluid, and put air in your tires... OK, sir?"
What we have now causes me to scratch my head and wonder... Like the pictures above, we've got MSNBC way over on THE LEFT. You gotta' love Keith Olbermann and Campbell Brown. The Obama "love fest" is out of control. Way over on THE RIGHT, we get to watch Sean Hannity, the inimitable Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Shepard Smith, and Bill O'Reilly's "Factor." They make it sound like the Revolution should start tomorrow. CNN claims middle ground, yet it's simply not so. Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs and the gang are very "Links um die Ecke." Most network news, including CBS and ABC has a strong liberal bias. That is a factual statement. Some claim that because of the public funding the NPRs and PBSs of the world "have to be" unbiased. Please... No way... Left and Left, again!
For my disclosure statement, I'm a conservative political being. BUT... FOX News often makes my skin crawl. Here's my problem: I support about 80% of the message, but only about 20% of the delivery. So much anger! And all contrived! You know why this is, don't you? No matter where we stand politically, we can't change the fact that TV/Radio/News Paper/On Line "News" isn't really news. It's pure and simple "Entertainment."
So where does that leave us if we want some decent news? Try C-SPAN; it's boring, but it's pretty straightforward. For a view of "us" from "them," try BBC, or the perspective of the wonderful folks at Aljazerra. In the meantime, I'll be pining for the days of Murrow and Cronkite.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Mind Games" from Mike & Mike

So Sometimes inspiration comes from where you least expect it... like, for instance, from sports talk show hosts on satellite radio. Now, I'm not a long haul trucker, but I have burned up about 3,000 miles/month over the past two years. My SIRIUS subscription was a great gift... and my fingers dance deftly from FOX to CNN to ESPN.... and then from Classical to Blues to Reggae to Oldies to Comedy Central. Oh, wait, there's PBS and BBC and maybe a quick inquiry as to the weather in Denver. If you were in the car with me, you'd be driven quite mad by my "adult ADD" tendencies, but it works for me. I find myself singing along with Bob Marley and the Wailers... "Don't worry about a thing - Every little thing is gonna' be alright," and then yelling at a news commentator on MSNBC with an opposing view to mine. Don't get me started about Blue Collar Comedy. I do a lot of wondering about the state of the world, only I do it out loud (... Know what I mean, Vern?) Anyway, I'm checking out "Mike & Mike" this morning on ESPN. Mike Greenberg is a cheeky, irreverent, non-ex-pro athlete analyst and Mike Golic is an ex-NFL defensive lineman and sort of like the guys on your bowling team, only smarter. They were providing their take on yesterday's Masters drama. I, by the way, was in the car for nine hours... driving from Chattanooga, TN, back to Palm Coast - and missed it all! Angel Cabrera wins it, while Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell are left to wake in the night for years to come, conjuring up what might have been... if only! The point the two Mikes were making, is the critical nature of "mental toughness." When standing over a 15 foot putt on the 18th green, at Augusta, on Sunday... to win the Masters, can you imagine the banshees that were competing for calm in Perry's head? You know the sports scenarios:
  • Down 4 points, 4th down, 3 seconds left in the Super Bowl, 30 yards from the end zone, last play of the game... Can the quarterback make the throw? Can the lineman make the block? Can the receiver make the catch? They've all done it before, under lesser circumstances.
  • 7th game of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, down 1, man on first, the count at 3-2... Can the batter put the inside curve out of the park... for all the marbles? I mean, he did win the Home Run Derby at the All Star game.
  • NBA Championship even at 3-3, down 91-89 in the 4th quarter, a three point attempt with 1 second on the clock... a foul! A slow walk to the line for 3 shots at victory... or despair? The guy has made 100 in a row at practice before, but what about now, in the surreal cacophony - for a place in sports history?

Golic and Greenberg were "right on" this morning. Was Michael Jordon more physically gifted than Scottie Pippin? Some would argue the opposite. How about those guys pedalling up the Pyrenees in the Tour de France? Minus the HGH and the lab-oxygenated blood, most of these athletes are merely marginally differentiated mountain climbing machines. Boxing, wrestling, MMA, tennis, rugby, hockey, track & field, skiing, swimming... any sport? The most compelling difference between the champions and the rest of the field is mental toughness. The "want to." The "need to." The ability to ignore the elephant in the room at the precise moment required.

I made myself a promise to go to school on this. My days of competitive sports are in the rear view mirror, but I do get up and go to work. And I do believe every aspect of our lives, including our response to this current economy, can be improved with a Golden Rule philosophy... and a dose of mental toughness! Thank you, Mike & Mike!

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