Tag Archives: CNN

This and that

It’s been about a month since I last posted. After our trip to France, I needed a bit of a “blogacation.” I’m back with a mixed bag of thoughts.

The hot news out there this past week has been the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

David and Paula Broadwell in happier times.

What a waste! It is interesting to note the double standards our society has for those in the public eye. If Petraeus were a Hollywood celebrity or a professional athlete, the entire episode might not even be worth a mention in People Magazine. I think we, as a society, tend to be a little sanctimonious when it comes to a good scandal. I’m not justifying marital infidelity, but I don’t understand why today that activity needs to ruin a good career. In the not-to-distant past, many great and admired leaders had a little, or a lot, action on the side. (Hello, FDR, Ike, JFK, Teddy K, etc.)

I got a chuckle out of a set of petitions that have been circulating around the Web promoting states to secede from the Union following President Obama’s re-election. What a bunch of sore losers! I’m not an Obama supporter, and, while fairly centric, lean more towards the right side of the political spectrum. (Big surprise there, huh?) This is a democracy folks. If you want someone you like in any elected office, then go out and convince enough people and get them to vote. If you can’t, then suck it up and live with it. Don’t just try to take your ball and go home. And, oh, by the way, didn’t we settle the issue of secession back in the 1860s? You would think the folks here in Georgia would remember that.

How messed up is college football? Imagine this. My Florida Gators are 10-1 and ranked #4 in the country. With just a couple of games going the “right way” this weekend, (wins by UF, USC, and Alabama) they could play for the national championship. And this, for a team with an offense so bad they would have trouble getting a first down against Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind. I love the Gators, but I do wish they would play some offense.

And if sex scandals, a replay of the Civil War and the BCS aren’t enough controversy for you, how about skydiving cats? There has been a uproar (or at least an upwhisper) over a Swedish insurance company television commercial that featured supposedly skydiving cats. I like cats. I have two of my own, one of whom is snuggled in my lap as I write this. But when I heard about this, I laughed. Jeannie Moos with CNN picked up on the story and had this tongue-in-cheek report.

The key here, folks — they didn’t really throw cats of airplanes. It’s all a joke. And besides, don’t cats always land on their feet anyway? (That’s also a joke.)

Let’s go ‘live!’

I am reading a book I discovered in our clean-out project a few weeks ago, CNN-The Inside Story.

I spent more than a quarter century in the TV news business. I never worked for CNN, but I know many people who did. The story of the network’s beginnings is fascinating. It’s neat to run across mentions of people I know (or knew at one time.)

Several passages I’ve read also give me “flash backs” to the fun and perils of live television. Overall, I don’t miss the business. TV news is not the same industry it was in the 70s, 80s and even 90s. It’s gotten entirely too squirrelly for my taste. However, being a part of live coverage of a breaking news story is a rush. Being on the air or calling the shots when all h___ is breaking loose and you are flying live without a script or a clue what might happen next, is exciting, and very satisfying when you pull it off.  Reading about some of the CNN adventures does bring back some related memories … many of them good.

Don’t beat up poor Harry

So Harry Reid is the latest politician to get caught with his foot in his mouth. I’m not a Harry Reid fan. (That’s actually an understatement.) However, I will not be joining the crowds who have been calling for his head on a stake over some 2008 comments.

According to CNN, here is what the fuss is all about.

“The controversy surrounds remarks published in the book “Game Change,” which goes on sale Monday.

It quotes Reid as saying privately in 2008 that Obama could succeed as a black candidate partly because of his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’”

The news stories don’t provide the full context of Harry’s “private” remarks, but I think it is safe to think that as a professional politician, he was giving his opinion on then-candidate Obama’s prospects as a presidential candidate.

Nothing he said was factually inaccurate. President Obama is a light skinned mixed-race without a natural ethnic accent. The use of the term “Negro” may have been an un-PC term, but it is not a racial slur. Light skinned? A factor of mixed-race. Black enough to be considered “black,” but still with a foot in both camps.

What do these factors have to do with Obama’s qualifications to be president?

Nothing.

But Harry didn’t comment on Obama’s qualifications to be president. He commented on his prospects as a candidate.

In an ideal world, maybe these shouldn’t be factors in an election, but we don’t live in an ideal world, certainly not when it comes to politics. In 2008 or today, issues of race, gender and sexual orientation are important factors that influence voters. The way a candidate appears and sounds can be as important as what he or she says. It can be a major influence on the voting public. A political professional who would ignore that would not be a professional politician very long.

I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if those comments were the full extent of Harry’s assessment of Candidate Obama’s qualifications. (There will be some who may argue that those were the full extent of his qualifications, but I won’t go there right now.)

To succeed in a national election, a candidate cannot be too far removed from the mainstream. Al Sharpton was an interesting candidate and certainly one who would have represented his vision of the black community, but he never had a ghost’s chance of winning the White House. He was too clearly identified as being the black candidate. And at the moment, African Americans still comprise only about 11% of the US population.

President Obama succeeded because he was crossover candidate. His message appealed to a significant percentage of mainstream America. His appearance helped with some groups and was sufficiently mainstream that it did not seriously hurt him among others. .

In President Obama, we have our first black, or at least mixed-race, president. It may not be too much longer before we see Hispanic or gay (maybe a little longer) candidates competing on the national scene. However, I doubt if we will see them succeeding nationally if they have a thick Spanish accent, or run around dressed like the Village People.

I’m not saying that’s the way it ought to be. I’m just saying that’s the way it is. Don’t crucify poor Harry for saying what darn near everyone else was thinking.