Election Observations Of A Cav Guy

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

January 2005


Now that yet another election is finally over, I have 2 fundamental observations about this American past time that have amazed me since I was a mere sprout. 

Observation #1: Yep, When Frogs Start Flying

It’s incredulous how newspapers insist that although they endorse candidates for election, their reporting on the front page is separate and entirely objective from the positions taken on the editorial page. To that I have one word—bullchips!

Let’s break this down to its most fundamental elements and see if this frog flies.

First and foremost, newspapers are businesses.  They don’t work solely for the plutonic cause of public service.  They live and die by revenue generated through sales of the paper and advertising space.

Advertisers are attracted to newspapers that have a wide and growing readership so they can get the most exposure of their product for their advertising dollar. Consequently, the more readers a paper has the more advertising dollars they attract.

In order to expand readership and therefore attract advertisers, people must want to buy that newspaper.

In order for people to want to buy the paper, they must have confidence in it—just like any other product they use.  If you didn’t have confidence in something, I doubt you’d continue to buy it would you?  The answer is simple—you wouldn’t. 

People must therefore have some level of confidence that what they read in the paper is worth their time and money—it’s called credibility.  If people think that what they are reading isn’t credible, they’ll not spend their time or money on it.

No rocket science here, just plain business.  Now let’s look at the internal structure of a newspaper.

The Publisher of any newspaper is the head honcho who coordinates the overall activities of the paper, has final approval authority on policy and major issues and most assuredly, takes a personal interest in revenue.

The editorial staff of that paper ultimately answers to the Publisher—this includes both the news editor and the editorial page editor. 

Again, newspapers will tell you that the editorial board is independent of the news desk and the positions taken by the editorial board including the endorsement of candidates, is completely separate from the newsroom.  Although they may work in separate parts of the building, to believe this claim of complete independence when they work for the same Publisher, I say again, bullchips.

Think about it from the Publisher’s saddle.  He/she is responsible for everything the paper does or fails to do, follow the money and you’ll have your answer.

If the editorial staff endorses Moe for office and the newsroom publishes bad things about Moe, what kind of credibility gap does this create for the paper?  Would you continue buying a paper with such credibility issues?  I wouldn’t. 

Eventually, if more and more subscribers stop buying the paper as they question its credibility, the advertisers would say, “I’m not wasting my money on this paper, the number of readers is dwindling therefore the number of people reading about my product is dwindling.  I’ll take my advertising dollars elsewhere.”

Do you think the publisher would put up with such an internal disconnect which threatens their revenue?  I know the answer and so do you.

However, if the paper endorses Moe, on the editorial page, then prints good things about him on the front page and bad things about his opponent, continuity is bolstered internally rather than undermined.  This was clearly the case in 2004.

So tell me again why you should believe any newspaper that tells you their endorsements don’t influence the news on the front page and why the front page doesn’t impact the editorial page?  I say again, follow the money.

Think of it this way. Suppose your dentist posted a warning in his waiting room that Acme Toothpaste caused irreparable tooth decay, then when you get in the chair, he endorses Acme Toothpaste and gives you a free sample.  Would that cause you to question his reliability, credibility and integrity? 

Do newspapers really think we’re that dumb?  The sad truth is many do.  Make you mad?  Well, call your newspaper and tell ‘em so.

I’m of the opinion that newspapers should NOT endorse any candidates.  Ideally, they should factually present the positions of each, report in a seriously objective way and let the voters decide—period.  That alone would go along way in boosting their credibility with me.  Will it ever happen?  Yep, when frogs start flying.

Observation #2:  From Down Home Boy to Uptown Expert

When new politicians are running for office, most are just “regular folks like you and me.” [Their words]  They are down home country boys with no insider knowledge of or exposure to the wicked ways of Washington or the inscrutable intrigue of international politics.  Why, they fed the chickens and milked the cows before breakfast, hunted rabbits for dinner, walked to school in the snow two miles up hill—both ways—even if they came from my part of central Florida.  They grew up on the scent of good ol’ southern honeysuckle vine and ate grits every morning—with no sugar!  We’ve all heard it in too many speeches over the years not to recognize a few of those worn out attempts to pander to the hometown folks, right?

What happens to these newly elected home spun yokels after only one week in Washington and they get tagged for their first nationally televised interview?  Well now they are the experts in all foreign and domestic issues imaginable.  They have in-depth knowledge of why China and Iran act the way they do, how our most sophisticated surveillance planes operate, what the solution is to the on-going Mid-East crisis, how to bring lasting peace in a world filled with terror and they have become military geniuses eclipsing Napoleon, Lee and MacArthur with their advice on how to win wars quickly with zero casualties. 

They know what causes global warming and how to fix it on the molecular level, the importance of the snail darter and tit mouse to the planetary eco system, where all the oil reserves are and the best way to solve the energy needs of America by converting soy beans and corn into fuel.  They are experts in all aspects of national as well as international monetary policy and know instinctively what the Fed and World Bank should do at every turn. 

They spout statistics on everything from how many cases of aids there are in Africa to how many families are currently without health insurance throughout America—and the solution to it all by the way.  They have suddenly become Constitutional scholars on any complex issue you care to bring up and they clairvoyantly know the right and wrong side of every controversy and the solution to everything from interpersonal strife and violence in our schools to roadside litter!

I know the newly elected go through an orientation program their first week in Washington but I would like to know more about that whiz bang course.  If it can transform down home country boys from the south that I’m familiar with into up town experts in everything within a week, I want to send my son there and save a ton of money on college tuition!

Just a couple of views from my saddle…  




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