Monday, January 14, 2008

A commentator's Quandary

#346 A Commentator's Quandary

So here's Young Einstein on the radio, doing a talk show under strange conditions.

Two jobs in a row now, the owners say "It's your show, do what you want."

Anyone who's ever done a program knows that's almost too good to be true.

First time, the guy saying it was Mike Bloomberg, who meant it and had both the clout and the money to protect Einey and his own operation, maybe not in that order.

Now, here it is eight years later and it's being said by people with a world of less money and clout, but no less sincerity.

And along comes an opportunity to do some real good for the audience, but at what cost to those good and well meaning folks who will not be getting on the Forbes 400 list any time soon?

Here's the situation: A member of Congress who needed to retire before he was elected has finally decided to retire. For the record, he's a Republican in a Republican district and a primary for his job would probably be the real contest, with the actual election a formality.

For now, there are two guys who want this job. One is a public drunk of a kid, the other a pompous, blathering senior citizen recently twice rejected by the voters for a lower office.

The public drunk of a kid is the son of a relatively wealthy business type (again, not Forbes 400 class, or even close. But compared to the rest of the locals, Mister Moneybags.)

When you're the local Mister Moneybags, you have local influence. If MM goes to, say, Honest Bob's Used Cars and says "Hey, Honest Bob, my kid's getting dissed something awful on that Young Einstein Radio guy." Honest Bob will think "hey, if I stop advertising on the radio station with the Young Einstein show, I'll score brownie points with Mister Moneybags." So, without being asked, Honest Bob pulls his ad schedule. Moneybags notices and sends a lot of business Honest Bob's way in return. Not a word's ever said. And there are a lot of guys like Honest Bob who advertise on the Young Einstein show.

So, this increases the chances of Public Drunk Kid getting elected, because even though everyone knows about his bottoms-up lifestyle, it might not be shoved into their ears day in and day out.

Thing is, it SHOULD be shoved into their ears day in and day out. And the guy should drink all he wants whenever he wants, but not on the public dime and not in the halls of congress.

The other guy is slightly less influential, but only slightly so the same quandary applies. This guy's got a PhD in some subject that doesn't help you get honest work, and is living proof anyone can earn a doctorate. The part of the degree he gets right is the part that teaches you that if you have one of these you walk on water, and possibly air. It's a fake lesson. But an awful lot of people believe it.

So here you have two guys shooting at the same target (either election to congress or us. Or both.) And one of them's going to get closer to the bull's eye than the other, and close enough is enough to win.

What can Young Einstein do? He "needs" to get the truth out there in stark relief. But he also has to make sure he doesn't damage those good people who say "do what you want," because it could be an economic and reputational hit they can't take -- and shouldn't have to.

Solutions anyone?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2008

2 comments:

pipskippy said...

Young Einstein, or anyone, should never jeopardize their integrity to further their career or protect their wallet. If your career path or means of acquiring wealth is not congruent with your ethics - down to the atom - then you've done nothing more with your life than trade your integrity for shiny objects.

pipskippy said...

I think I missed the target on the last comment, and that's assuming I understood the whole situation. But if the person is being asked to 'tone down' so noone get's mad, then it would be the wrong thing to do to tone down. Hell, FOX news, probably the inverse of this example, pisses people off all day, every day. But they appease the ignorant poor, their main market, and they succeed financially. If a radio biz can't stay in business due to straying from the mainstream, then said radio business is not well planned. Extreme radio/TV commentary is incredibly profitable, and you can say whatever the hell you want to.