Archive for May 2008
It’s not unusual for anyone seeking political office to pursue endorsements from individuals who might carry a lot of clout among voters. We see it over and over again as some seek the support of fellow politicians … some look for the backing of community and business leaders … while still others relish in the endorsements of Hollywood entertainers (Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would vote for an individual because a movie star or singer said to do so … but, of course, I live in the real world.)
Anyway, Saturday’s events at the Republican State Convention in Branson featured a big endorsement from Senator Kit Bond who is backing Kenny Hulshof in the Congressman’s bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. As Missouri political endorsements go … this is a biggie. But will it matter?
Hulshof’s opponent, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, lost little time dismissing the endorsement, saying she does not believe people will be swayed by suggestions as to how they should vote. But Steelman went a step beyond that, questioning the value of a Bond endorsement. Said Steelman: "Kit Bond endorsed Rudy Giuliani … and Kit Bond endorsed Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan in 1976." Ouch!!!
– Steve Walsh
Just when you settle in for a floor fight over the seating of contested delegates to the Republican State Convention … surprise, surprise, surprise … another story steals the show.
In a speech to delegates attending the Convention in Branson, Senator Kit Bond has announced he is supporting Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) in his bid to be the Republican gubernatorial flag bearer in November. The endorsement is welcomed by the Hulshof campaign as extremely important.
By the way … the question of whether contested delegates will be seated has been settled without much bloodshed … alright … without any bloodshed, just a few disappointments. Of the 374 contested delegates and alternates (many of whom claimed they were being targeted because of their support for Ron Paul) 54 werenot seated for various reasons. Among the reasons … some had been involved with other political parties – notably the Libertarian Party.
So, the fight that was anticipated never happened … and Missouri’s senior U.S. Senator grabs the headlines. Aren’t conventions fun?
– Steve Walsh
Day One of the Republican State Convention in Branson might end up getting more news coverage about an event that happened about seven or eight miles away from the convention site. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose loyal following has baffled many in the GOP establishment, dropped in on Branson, holding a rally at a theater on the north side of town.
The rally was scheduled at the same time as many Republican officials were sitting down to dinner at the convention site, but that didn’t seem to matter to the estimated crowd of 1,300 who showed up to see and hear from the man who wants to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq … who wants to do away with the federal income tax … and who says the Patriot Act is … well … unAmerican.
As is often the case with grand productions, Paul did not appear right away. State Representative Jim Guest addressed the audience, as did a number of others before the star took the podium. But what really got the crowd into a frenzy might have been a video clip from "Braveheart" in which Mel Gibson, high atop his horse, talks to his fellow Scotsmen as they are about to go into battle. He reminds them they can fight and might die … or they can walk away and live … giving up hope of freedom. The audience roared in approval as Gibson urged them to fight for freedom.
Sadly, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball – Chris Matthews – was not in attendance … otherwise, in the opinion of this humble reporter … he would have felt a tingling running up his leg just as he claimed happened to him as he heard Barack Obama speak.
The excitement mounted until Paul took the stage to deliver his message … and the crowd repeatedly stood to cheer as Paul made point after point. Whether you like Ron Paul’s views or not … he was right when he spoke of the enthusiasm exhibited by those who had come to see him speak. And, in a year in which conventional wisdom points to trouble for Republicans … there’s no doubt some members of the GOP would like to see some of this enthusiasm rub off.
– Steve Walsh.
The release of Scott McClellan’s book "What Happened" has led to a lot of accusations and counter-accusations levelled at McClellan, past and present members of the Bush Administration, and some reporters who cover the White House.
The McClellan claims and subsequent finger pointing over what Bush loyalists call McClellan’s "Judas-like" actions are to be expected. After all, it’s a political year and we have to deal with an unusually high amount of this kind of thing. What should be disturbing to many journalists is the claim made by CNN reporter Jessica Yellin during an appearance on Anderson Cooper’s show.
Amid all the glee being expressed by the Bush haters and the counter-claims coming from the Bush defenders, questions have been raised regarding the actions of the White House press corps in the days and weeks leading up to the war in Iraq … and in the aftermath of the start of hostilities. Jessica Yellin talked about the actions … or non-actions … of the press corps by suggesting news executives pressured reporters to go easy on the President.
“I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning when the lead up to war began. The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the President’s high approval ratings. And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the President’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives – and I was not at this network at the time – but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President.”
I do not have any knowledge of what Yellin’s supervisors instructed her to do, but those of us who follow politics are well aware of NBC’s David Gregory and his confrontations with McClellan. During an appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Gregory defended the press.
Claims of reporters being pressured by "the suits" to follow certain codes of behavior are not new … but I can say that in more than a quarter century in the business, I have never been told that I could not pursue a story for fear it might show somebody in a positive light. I HAVE been told to be sure that before I make any accusations I have the facts. But that is simply a rule that most journalists are expected to follow, anyway. And, I was told – when I was doing a talk show during the 1980s – that I might tone down my comments a bit. But, as a journalist – with eight years in Washington, D.C., eight years at the Missourinet, and a number of years in other locations – I have NEVER been told NOT to pursue a story.
Prior to completing this entry I spoke with Missourinet colleague Brent Martin about pressure from the higher ups and we both swear it hasn’t happened … to either of us, anyway. We HAVE been pressured by politicians, their surrogates, special interest groups, and others to cover stories in a certain way. And we HAVE been both praised and criticized by these same people over various stories we have done. Such is the life of a journalist. But we have NOT been told by our employers to give anybody a pass because of "patriotic fever" or anything else. And that’s how things should be.
If what Jessica Yellin is suggesting took place actually happened … then "inside the Beltway" journalists ought to be asking questions of her previous employers – MSNBC and ABC. But it’s unfair to leave the impression that, as a rule, the corporate types are calling the shots in the newsrooms of America.
– Steve Walsh
I had a chance, this morning, to talk to a champion. Rick Clunn, who lives near Ava in southwest Missouri, is the all time leading money winner in Professional Bass Fishing, reeling in more than $3-million.
Among Rick’s accomplishments: He was the first angler to win a million dollars in competitive bass fishing … he was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001 … he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in the same year … and, in 2004 on ESPN, Rick was voted the All-Time Greatest Bass Angler.
Despite his successes, Rick is quite the down to earth guy. Talking to him there is no doubt he loves what he does and would probably be doing it even if he couldn’t make a living at it. What a great life – getting paid to do something you love doing. (A lot like radio!)
Anyway, I spoke with Rick about National Fishing and Boating Week, which begins Sunday. He sees the week as an opportunity to increase awareness about what our state has to offer in the way of abundant water resources and creeks and rivers. Says Rick, "If you don’t have a vehicle to enjoy it, then it just becomes more or less something of a vicarious experience … yes, you know it’s there, but if you don’t get out into it then you’re just missing it. And I think it’s just a reminder to use whatever vehicles you enjoy – whether it’s camping, fishing, boating – to get out there and enjoy those resources."
Rick says that while he doesn’t expect this coming week to prompt many people to take the plunge, so to speak, and become professionals … he does want to see a lot of people seize the opportunity to get back to nature. "I have these deep seated thoughts that our sanity is kind of connected to all this," says Clunn. He adds, "We are all descendants of pioneers who were looking for wide open spaces and freedom and fresh air … and I think we have to maintain that connection and I think fishing is one of the vehicles that allows us to maintain that natural connection."
By the way … the Department of Conservation has scheduled a couple of free fishing days June 7th and 8th … those are days in which no license is needed to get out to the water and act like a kid again … and take the kids with you.
– Steve Walsh
We’re in that "in between" season in the Missourinet newsroom … the time between the end of the legislative session and the start of the real nastiness in the state’s political campaigns. Certainly, there have been barbs traded back and forth, but not really too much in the way of "kick ’em hard and make sure they don’t get up" politics.
So, our thoughts turn to the inconsequential. Such is the case today, friends, as a lack of hard hitting news stories to pursue resulted in Missourinet News Director Bob Priddy embarking on a journey to the far reaches of the Learfield building. And what he found is blog-worthy.
During a visit to Learfield’s IT department, Bob had the pleasure of meeting intern Kate Rorvig (who is celebrating her 21st birthday today) … and his keen sense of observation took over. Bob noticed that Kate and our own Missourinet intern, Jon Allison, look strikingly similar.
Jon is from Norfolk, Virginia … and Kate is from Odessa. At least she claims to be from Odessa. It would not surprise anyone in the newsroom to learn that she is really from Virginia (like her older "brother," Jon.) It’s entirely possible that the family was going through some tough times in 1987 and Kate ended up being sent to Missouri.
1987 was a time of turmoil in America. The country was reeling from the May 4th U.S. Supreme Court decision that Rotary Clubs must admit women … one could not turn on a radio without hearing that irksome Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager composition "That’s What Friends Are For" … and … as if it were an answer to the prayers of those who got down on their knees and asked for relief from that song, Eli Lilly & Company released Prozac for use in the United States.
So, friends, we leave it to you … are Kate & Allie brother and sister?
DNA testing should be completed sometime next week!
– Steve Walsh
The Missouri State Fair is just two-and-a-half months away … and First Lady Melanie Blunt is already gearing up for what she hopes will be the start of a new tradition. She’s announced the inaugural First Lady’s Pie Contest and is inviting Missouri families to find out how their homemade pies measure up to the competition of others across the state.
The First Lady’s Pie Contest will be held August 14th, at the Home Economics Building at the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. It’s open to all amateur bakers of all ages. And, the pies will be judged by food industry professionals including Governor’s Mansion Chef Jerry Walsh (no relation), Mary Hostetter – owner of The Blue Owl in Kimmswick, and Carol Eldred – a partner in Cooky’s Cafe in Golden City.
First prize is $100, second is worth $75, and third place is good for $50. More information is available at the State Fair’s website.
– Steve Walsh