Apples and Alar, Guns and Crime



Written by: Bill Colley

My lack of broadcast news talent possibly saved my soul.  I grew up with dreams of anchoring the CBS Evening News.  Some of you remember those days before cable and the Internet when 3 large TV networks were so dominant public opinion was shaped nightly after dinner.  Offshoots of these programs, CBS’ 60 Minutes comes to mind, could nearly derail entire industries.  Remember apples and Alar?  Today a newscast on one of the old alphabet networks draws an estimated audience about the size of the population of Chicago in a nation of 315 million people.

Rarely do I get to see an evening newscast from ABC, CBS or NBC.  For many, many years I was working when the old white men were reading Teleprompters and in recent months a new schedule at the office often has me going to bed at 6:30 P.M., EST.  Every now and then I do have an opportunity to watch.  Often on a Friday evening and what I see makes me cringe.

I don’t know if it’s a master plan to influence the thinking of viewers but if the people putting together a newscast have deep seated views and convictions I’ve never doubted these also even subliminally influence decisions.  My confession for the day is I worked in 3 different TV newsrooms on 4 occasions and I was a lot more liberal at the time (and more immature I’ll admit) than I am today.  Success was based on pleasing the “Producer Pod,” a collection of mostly older liberal men and some younger liberal women.  They wisecracked throughout their shifts about conservatives and looked askance at anyone offering a counter view.  On my way to an interview with a liberal politician one producer asked me one day to pass along his regards.  The days I was going out the door to interview political or religious conservatives there were jokes about church burning and lynching.  One Ash Wednesday with a smudge on my forehead I was accused of making a political statement.  Maybe I should’ve worn a turban?

Watching CBS News Friday night I started taking notes.  “Guns bad-Axelrod story,” reads one.  Jim Axelrod was a nice enough fellow twenty years ago when he worked for a competing station in Syracuse, New York and I don’t know if he ever shared any political views.  For all I know today he just voices a script a producer writes.  Axelrod interviewed a woman, once a supporter of the National Rifle Association, now frightened by guns after the Connecticut Massacre.  A tear jerker of a story as she spoke about the losses her friends are enduring but is she indicative of most Americans?  It’s anecdotal evidence.

The next story was “flu bad” and warned if you don’t get your shot you’ll end up like a Minnesota teenager.  Stricken on Christmas Day and now dead and so far the message is give up your guns and take your government medicine.

Story number three I viewed explained farmers are still bad people.  While the story didn’t revive the Alar bogeyman we were instructed new regulations are now in place and evil farmers are now smote by Glenda the Good Witch of Washington.

And now more about evil guns and the threats against the staff at the Hudson Valley’s Journal News.  You remember where we last left the crusaders at the Journal News?  The paper had just pulled back the curtain and revealed there were hundreds of neighbors itching to harm you and your family.  Worse, it’s legal to own a gun in the region policed by this newspaper!  Apparently CBS has just discovered this story.  A couple of retired actual policemen were interviewed.  They own guns.  Legally, although we here at the news complex just can’t understand the need.  Unless we’ve been threatened as our friends at the Journal News were threatened after alerting readers to evil lurking in the cul-de-sac.  For an attempt at balance, some guy at some journalism think tank was interviewed and in a 4 second sound bite defended the paper, of which he previously served as an editor.  There wasn’t any mention of the woman being stalked and receiving hang up telephone calls after being “shamed” by the crusaders of the Journal News.  There was also no mention of the journalistic heavyweights criticizing the paper’s action.  Maybe it’s a stretch to include Erik Wemple of the Washington Post.  He offered a mild rebuke last week.  No mention of Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute.  He has ripped the Journal News for printing without context just because it could print.  I respect Tompkins.  Long, long ago this reporter worked as a News Director at a small and wheezing NBC-TV affiliate.  Tompkins addressed us at an affiliate conference in Minneapolis.  He pointed out the need for a free press.  “No country with a free press has ever had a famine,” he explained.  Then he implored us to act responsibly.  Sounds like a beer commercial.

When news media become nothing more than appendages for the Obama White House and propagandists for leftist causes then it’s time we take the keys away.