Media Don't Call the Shots

So I'm talking to a liberal friend of mine — yes, I have a few. And this might shock you, but he's a fellow journalist. Actually, he's pretty big. For what seems like the 50th time, he asks why I'm going to Atlanta to cover this Tea Party protest.

"I don't give those people the time of day," he tells me. "They're nuts."

I answered, "Well, you're ignoring a lot of nuts then."

He isn't moved. "You know nuts and cameras, Neil," he says.

I know.

"Just like nuts and cameras at anti-war rallies. But those you cover."

Now he is not amused. "Big difference," he says. Tells me the anti-war movement was a legitimate cause and one later vindicated.

I said I didn't know about that, but asked, "So these protesters don't have a legitimate cause, even though the spending in Washington they feared had been vindicated?"

"Not buying it, Neil," he says. "It's a Fox thing, not our thing."

"So," I inquire, "spending money on wars is your thing, but spending money on almost anything else -- no matter how much -- is not your thing."

He distinguishes. Tells me watching the government's big thumb in war matters, even as I remind him watching the same government's big hand in almost everything else does not.

We're getting nowhere.

I remind him of populist rallies in our nation's past, virtually always ignored by the established press, because the guys leading the charge were weird and their cause, apparently weirder.

I told him we can't pick and choose the causes that suit us or dismiss the thousands who might now and then annoy us.

We in the media don't call the shots — they do.

Leaving aside they're fellow Americans, I explained to my journalist friend, they're something more: our viewers. Our customers. And if he keeps dismissing them, they will be neither.

He laughs and hangs up the phone.

I then look at my Atlanta itinerary and confirm my trip.

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