Don't tell me what I think
It was nearly a week before last night’s presidential debate that politicians, commentators and the media began telling us not only what to expect, but what will be said and even who will win the debate.
That really offended me. How dare does anyone try to influence how I might perceive the debate before the two candidates even face off? It was bad enough that so many pundits would tell me who won after a debate and now they’re telling me who will win even before the debate.
I guess that by lowering expectations — both sides seemed to say that their candidate probably wouldn’t do so well — that major gaffes or an under-whelming performance will be accepted. I did notice the Obama camp tried much harder to underplay his chance at looking good at the debate than the Romney camp, but both tried to influence how I might view the debate and the candidates.
I am so tired of the talk shows — although I do find them at times entertaining — telling me what I should think. We have far too many people trying to influence us and the major TV networks and even the Associated Press do their best to put their slant on news stories that should be presented without an opinion.
For as along as I have been in this business, people have been trying to tell me how I feel. Just this week I was accused of showing my opinion because of a story we ran about Measure J — the $90 million Porterville Unified School District bond measure. I guess, because we did a story on a person who has taken it upon themselves to oppose the measure, we showed our bias. Now, I don’t agree and was offended by the remark. Had we decided to ignore the opposing view, as was suggested, then that would have definitely been a bias and wrong.
I often get accused of being a liberal or a conservative. The other day a caller said The Recorder was just a bunch of liberals trying to slant the news. I can assure you I am neither a liberal or conservative and the editorial philosophy of The Recorder is pretty much down the middle, with a slight lean toward the conservative side.
I have said this before and will repeat it again — I have had many more requests to be biased on a subject than I have ever had on being fair. Measure J is a good example. Both the proponents and opponents want the paper to print mostly their side and I have heard from both sides when we do a story, just as I heard on Wednesday.
We have not finalized our editorial stance on Measure J, but no matter what position we take, we will still encourage voters to research the issue, ask questions and make up their own minds. I have always felt editorials are nothing more than another reference, another part of the discussion. But, in editorials, we are not trying to tell you what you should think, but they are merely our position.
That is true for the presidential race. Look at the issues and the records of the candidates.
For President Obama, you have nearly four years to look back on and if you think he has been honest, made good decisions and gotten things accomplished, then he might deserve your vote. If you listen to what Mitt Romney is saying, you can agree or not agree. But, please, don’t let anybody tell you what to think in advance.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.