Archive for election

THE YESTERDAYS OF OUR LIVES

Posted in The News with tags , , , , on November 6, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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YESTERDAY, for one day at least, everybody had to have a copy of their newspaper. People waited in long lines to buy them, newsstands ran out of copies early in the morning, and subscribers had their papers stolen from their doorsteps. Everybody had to have a memento from this historic election — proof that it indeed happened, proof that they were there when it happened.

Customers wait outside the Washington Post building Wednesday afternoon for special editions of the newspaper. (Kevin Clark/The Washington Post )

Customers wait outside the Washington Post building Wednesday afternoon for special editions of the newspaper. (Kevin Clark/The Washington Post )

It was a reminder to me of what newspapers mean to people, and of what they really do best — document in words and pictures the history of our world, the history of what happened the day before. They are a daily souvenir of our life. And when our favorite team wins a championship, when the nation is attacked by terrorists, when voters elect their first nonwhite president, we want the hard evidence in the form of a newspaper. DVR’d newscasts and Web printouts won’t do.

Newspapers are the greatest medium for recording this incremental history as it happens, day by day. But, for some reason, the executives running newspapers decided a while back that people already know what happened yesterday and don’t need to read all about it, and that they would rather have a daily crystal ball that tells them what’s gonna happen next. (I’ve written about this upsetting trend before.)

At The Hartford Courant, where I worked for nearly 10 years, we couldn’t write headlines or stories that told people what actually happened. We had to be “forward-looking” and stir up emotions with overblown, melodramatic and preferably alliterative headlines. The argument was that “readers already know what happened by the time the paper comes out, so you have to tell them something new.”

Therefore, “8 Die In Mall Shooting” is an unacceptable headline, but “Mall Massacre” is great, as is “Could It Happen At Your Mall?” I remember the day of the Madrid train bombing in 2004 — another historic day. I wasn’t allowed to write the headline “191 Killed In Train Bombings.” The front-page banner headline we used was “Al-Qaida Or ETA?” Huh? ETA? What did the train’s arrival time have to do with anything? Oh, ETA was a terrorist group suspected in the bombings. So, we went with a screaming question head that told readers little, even if they knew what ETA was. I asked then and I ask now: What is wrong with documenting, for history’s sake, exactly what happened yesterday?

I haven’t seen yesterday’s Courant (I still haven’t looked at a Courant since its redesign), but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a headline like “2012 Campaign Gets Underway” or “Is America Now Ready For A Latino President?”

I remember finding old, yellowed newspapers in a bedroom closet when I was a little boy. I vaguely remember them, but I think they were about Kennedy’s election or his assassination. In any case, they were historical records of historic days, saved by my parents for posterity.

That is what newspapers are to people. Unfortunately for newspaper publishers, every day isn’t as monumental as this Tuesday was. But that’s the cool thing about documenting history — you never know when the next monumental day is coming. Newspapers have to be ready, with the best writers and editors and photographers on hand, because history can happen at any time. And what happened yesterday can really matter to people.

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DUMB LIKE A FOX

Posted in The News with tags , , , on October 3, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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I HAVE to wave the white flag of surrender and admit that Sarah Palin showed last night why she’s going to become our next vice president in January.

Americans eat up all the things she did in last night’s debate — that doggone folksy talk, the 247 “maverick” references, the shrewd “I’m not gonna answer the questions the way you want” disclaimer. She gave the people exactly what they want, and managed to make Joe Biden look a little old and confused along the way.

Half the time, I couldn’t tell who Biden was talking about — “John” or Obama — and he even mixed up their names at least once. (And did he have to say he “loves” McCain — twice?) He came off like Gore and Kerry in previous debates — just another stiff, know-it-all statistician, the kind of person Americans don’t want to watch on their bigass TV screens.

Tina Fey may do a pitch-perfect portrayal of Palin, but Palin herself is playing a character — and she’s nailing it too. This is a former beauty pageant contestant/TV newscaster we’re talking about — she knows how to make herself likable to judges and demographic groups.

I believe she’s been coached to answer questions as anti-intellectually as possible. I think if she had told Katie Couric she reads the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report, it would have cost her votes. I think she’s been instructed to pronounce it “noo-ku-lar.” I really believe she’s playing us, in both meanings of that phrase.

All Biden had to say was that our country has been hijacked by politicians in over their heads, that our nation has hit rock bottom and needs people of substance and experience to save it from the very real possibility of collapse. That we have to swallow our pride and vote for people who are better than us and not for drinking buddies.

Unfortunately, smarts are a liability in these debates — long, fact-filled answers don’t play well on TV, and they haven’t for a while. Americans would rather see the smart guy get knocked down a peg or two by a quick quip. And by playing to the hilt this character of the fiesty hockey mom with more moxie than brains, Palin is proving she’s the smartest one of all.

QUE SERA SARAH

Posted in The News with tags , , , on September 1, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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I’m not laboring on Labor Day, so my sister Joan has stepped in today to tackle John McCain‘s choice for the VP spot via an open letter to Mr. Maverick. (Personally, I think he picked Sarah Palin because he mistakenly believes “running mate” means they actually get to mate.)

By Joan Beal

Note to John McCain:

Hillary supporters want you to know that there was more to our support of Hil than a sex organ.  How could you possibly think that we’d fall for Sarah Palin? A gun-toting, anti-choice, ANWR-drilling, lactating, hockey-Mom beauty queen. Like we wouldn’t notice the difference?

We know that all women are basically the same to you, Mr. McCain. Women are super-foxy, perennially made up, well-coiffed, and a source of beer money. And if they aren’t, you just divorce ’em.

But we females happen to be a bit more discerning. No offense, Mr. McCain, but you are really, really old, and have had several bouts with melanoma. There’s a good chance we might see a Palin presidency.

Future-President Palin has barely traveled outside our country. She became governor of Alaska via a winning stint on the PTA. She fought “big oil” (Exxon/Mobil) because her husband works for BP, and she’s all for giving BP the leases to drill. To drill in ANWR and kill more polar bears. She’s got five kids, one with Down syndrome, and has fabulous Christian values (she even wants Creationism taught in public schools!) … yet you expect she’ll toss it all to the side to lead our country? She home-schooled her kids … ya think she’s going to let someone else look after them while she’s meeting with foreign dignitaries? She’s still pumping her breast milk for her littlest angel. What if she and her super-sperminating husband receive more blessings from the Almighty? What then, Mr. McCain?

It was just announced that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is five months’ pregnant and unmarried. Mr. and Mrs. Palin are “proud, and excited to become grandparents! Life happens!” I’m sorry, but were none of Warren Jeffs’ wives available to run as VP? Is that why McCain is foisting Palin upon America … to send us back toLittle House on the Prairie” days?  Is birth control too “sciency” for Americans? I’m 46 years old, and I do not want to be a grandparent until I reach my late 50s. Is that elitist?

The term “maverick” comes from the Texas lawyer, Colonel Samuel Maverick. He purchased a herd of cattle and failed to brand them. Cattlemen in the American West took the view that they had the right to possess any unbranded “mavericks” they found on the open range.  Let me suggest a branding for McCain/Palin … “WTF?”

Joan Beal is a singer, wife and mother in the Los Angeles area. And she’d make a great U.S. Secretary of State.

Holy shit

Posted in The News with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

I don’t care that Barack Obama had a fiery pastor who, if you go by the sound bites, hates Mom and apple pie and thinks the government gave everyone the mumps. What pisses me off is that I even know Obama had a pastor.

Like Obama, John McCain has had to distance himself from a pesky preacher, John Hagee of Texas, and he says he’s never even been to Hagee’s church — he just “won” his endorsement.

I know it’s hard to tell politicians apart, but can’t the media find anything more substantive than this? In a country where we at least pretend to separate church and state, we sure are obsessed with the candidates’ religious backgrounds. That’s because the candidates’ faith and the religious company they keep are a quick way for us to judge them. There’s no need to get to know the candidates’ goals for the country when there’s an easier way to whittle down your list: His pastor’s a kook! He thinks the Rapture’s coming! Hillary’s part-Jewish! Dismissed!

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright could go on a multi-state killing spree and it wouldn’t change my opinion of Obama. Why should the behavior of someone’s pastor reflect poorly on him? I mean, my church had two priests with a thing for little boys (guess what thing) and another who told us — during Christmas Mass, no less — that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay. So, does that mean I can’t run for office?

But this is what religion does — it divides us, makes us afraid of one another, and blinds us to what’s really at stake in this election. And that’s a thousand times scarier that anything Wright or Hagee has to say.