“You write like a liberal,” Floyd tea party member Rob Bonsignore told me after the group’s meeting the other night.
Really? How does a liberal write? I cover both news as a reporter and write opinion columns for a variety of web sites and publications.
I doubt President Barack Obama’s supporters would agree with Bonsignore’s analysis, especially when I wrote this for a national political web site last year:
Barack Obama wants another four years as President.
Oh boy. Be still my heart. I haven’t been this excited about something since I jumped stark naked into a vat of ice-cold Franklin dimes.
Four more years of failed leadership, four more years of meandering from side to side like a rowboat in stormy waters, four more years of flawed policies.
Barack Obama sure talked a good game when he mesmerized the public with his captivating rhetoric that propelled him to win the Presidency in 2008 but two years into his occupation of White House shows a long string of broken promises, failure of leadership and an unwillingness to keep his promises to the American voters.
Of course, I write things like this about the other side of the political fence:
Perhaps the saddest commentary on the lackluster field is the revolving door of frontrunners that came and went before the first vote was cast in the primaries: Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, etc.
Then, of course, there’s Ron Paul, the candidate who never met a newsletter he couldn’t deny. Like Romney, Paul is an empty suit. Paul’s, however, is a cheaper and ill-fitting suit.
Like most partisans, Bonsignore doesn’t recognize it when someone is non-partisan. As a newspaperman, I treat every politician, every elected official, every candidate for public office with a healthy and equal dose of skepticism. The same goes for self-declared “grassroots” movements like the tea party. Nearly all have agendas and few are honest about the true intent of those agendas.
I follow a simple rule that Echols taught me many years ago: “If your mother says she loves, confirm it with a second source.” I also follow legendary Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne’s advice: “It is the job of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Partisans perceive “objective” reporting as that which agrees with their point of view. Truly objective reporting has no point of view. It simply presents the news as it happens. In an age of conservative news channels like Fox and liberal ones like MSNBC, objectivity is lost in a sea of political slant and spin.
While I do write opinion pieces, they are written from the perspective that everything, and everyone, must be questioned and measured by the same yardstick.
In 1965, when Roanoke Times city editor Jim Echols offered me a full-time job as a reporter, the offer had conditions.
“You have six months to piss off at least half the people in this city,” he said. “If you don’t, I’ll fire your ass and hire someone who will.”
I stayed five years.
During an 11-year tenure at The Telegraph in Alton, Illinois, letters to the editor lambasted me as a liberal, a conservative, an anarchist and even mainstream.
“I’m not sure what to make of you,” the Telegraph’s city editor, Elmer Broz said about six months after I arrived. “I’ve never had a reporter who is such a total political agnostic, so devoid of personal philosophy and beliefs.”
So the question remains:
Just exactly how does one “write like a liberal.”