And Our Press Sucks, Too

This is absolutely not what I’d been planning on writing about today, but jeez louise our press really needs a two-by-four to its collective head.

You may have heard the tale of whether or not Hillary Clinton left a tip when she ate at a diner in Iowa. This is what’s known to Real People as a “whatever” story. She’s not the first one to have forgotten to leave a tip and she won’t be the last—and for pete’s sake, politicians, like rock stars and CEOs have, for better or worse, assistants to deal with this sorta thing, every single one of them, from the preznit on down. My own father, one of the best and most conscientious people I’ve ever known, likes to tell the story of the time he took his large and not particularly easy brood out to dinner and forgot to leave a tip. And just like Mrs. Clinton, when he realized it, he did the right thing and went back and tipped the hell out of the waitress. End of story, right?

As if. Because the media in the country gets positively moist about all things they view as a possible error by a Clinton—I suspect most major news organizations are even now searching to see how many people in that diner Bill slept with and/or how many patrons’ pets they had assassinated—this stupid little nothing story has taken on a life of its own.

It’s really simple For perspective, just listen to the stiffed waitress herself, Anita Esterday.

Ms. Esterday said she did not understand what all the commotion was about.

“You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

Then again, what would she know? She was only the damn waitress in question.

And it involves a Clinton! Never mind that Mike Huckabee released a convicted rapist who went on to rape and murder after his release. Or that because of Rudy Giuliani’s negligence (at best), firefighters died in the World Trade Centers because they had defective radios—just like they did the first time the World Trade Centers were attacked, eight years before. Hell, no. Clinton may not have left a tip! Heavens to mergatroid! Bring me the smelling salts, Ethel!

And the thing is? Of all the major—and even some of the minor—Democratic candidates running, Hillary is almost certainly my least favorite. But the way the press in this country goes after her and Bill would be juvenile if it weren’t for the repulsive history behind it.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787, “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Words of wisdom indeed. But I suspect ol’ TJ would never have dreamt of how utterly superficial the overwhelming majority of stories our press focuses on these days would become.


About the other scott peterson

Writer of comics and books and stuff.
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2 Responses to And Our Press Sucks, Too

  1. Theresa says:

    Not arguing with you, Scott as I completely agree with you about the press. But I wonder if it is really the press that is to blame? Or is this the type of story the public actually clamors for? They sure seem to eat it up. Is the press merely responding to a demand or are they creating it? Or is just some kind of sick cycle?

  2. scott says:

    Excellent question, Theresa, and I have no way of knowing for sure. It’s obviously something of a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Clearly there are some folks who would just love to know what the latest inanity of Paris Hilton’s is. I guess I wonder if the public airwaves–and we own them and license them to the broadcasters–should really be used for that sorta tripe. Who gets to judge? Well, that’s a slippery slope, so I reckon I just wish the folks at the networks were more responsible.
    Now, having said all that, I think this speaks to the larger point quite well, from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Politics, Policy and Media:

    Most citizens, whether they are following the campaign closely or not, have some clear ideas of the kind of coverage they prefer. In a new poll produced for this report by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, nearly eight-in-ten Americans (77%) say they want more coverage of “the candidates’ positions on issues” than they are getting. Just 17% say they want less coverage of candidates’ positions.
    Smaller majorities also said they want to see more stories about second-tier candidates (55%), about debates (57%) and about sources of campaign money (55%). And another 55% was interested in more coverage of the personal backgrounds and experiences of the candidates….

    Yeah, well, good luck with that, folks.

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