Media Matters

* As we’ve been noticing, a number of politicians have been decreasingly relying on traditional mass media to get their message out. Why submit to unpredictable and sometimes unfriendly media fire when there are ways to control those messages? Indeed, when there are increasingly popular ways to bypass mainstream media.

Here’s the sobering take of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, a major Facebook video fan. “For those of you who want to truly see what is happening, follow along through social media. With all due respect to what now passes for traditional media, it’s dying for a reason.”


BTW, when was the last time “with all due respect” presaged anything remotely respectful?

* When it comes to political debates, I miss the old-school, one well-versed moderator, every-candidate-gets-a-shot-at-the-same-question format. Case in point, the recent Democratic gubernatorial debate at Pinellas Park High School. The toughest questions were asked by the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith. Politics is what he does. He knows this stuff and these candidates. He’s not a TV talking-head anchor, maybe not the second coming of Tim Russert, but he’s TV savvy. Let him moderate by himself and hold candidates accountable.

No surprise Smith was the one questioning Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum about the ongoing FBI corruption investigation into his city’s government, and he was the one bringing up Phillip Levine’s donation to Marco Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign.

* Out-of-the-mouths-of-(Fox News) babes: “Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now–this is history.” And this was from “Fox & Friends” co-host Abby Huntsman. Some faux pax are more politically discomfiting–and more, ironically, accurate–than others.

* I’m not on the same ideological page as long-time Fox News commentator and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. But his recent (final) note, published on WAPO’s website was as moving as it was classy. Krauthammer, a trained psychiatrist who made his mark in geopolitical analysis, revealed that his cancer had returned, and he was out of hope–and time. He has but a few weeks to live. But he wasn’t bitter or self-pitying. He leaves, he emphasized, “with no regrets. It was a wonderful life.”

Krauthammer, 68, thanked his doctors and caregivers and friends and colleagues and readers and viewers. All those, he said, “who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work.” He underscored the continued need for “honest debate and rigorous argument” to guide “this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”

His final note was a reminder of what we have in common–our mortality and fellow-man responsibility–rather than in conflict–our zero-sum politics.

It would only be fitting if, in his memory, others of prominence on the Fox side of the spectrum dial down the vitriol, the show-business antics and the Trump sycophancy and aspire to a higher ground. And it would be fitting if we all, regardless of political affiliation, could leave this world knowing we honestly did our best in “the pursuit of truth”–not in the pursuit of power and ego gratification.

God speed, Dr. Krauthammer.

* On a personal note, I met Krauthammer once. It was at the GOP National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. I was in the press tent with my lunch tray and looking frustratingly around for a place to plop down. A guy waved me over to some makeshift table for barely two. I recognized him from political commentary, but I had forgotten his name. He introduced himself, he was gracious, and we made small talk about tent humidity and humility as well as what George W. Bush’s chances were against Al Gore. Then he excused himself and wheeled away.

I hadn’t realized he was wheelchair bound. I had only seen him from the waist up. From the neck down he was paralyzed from a diving accident in his 20s while at Harvard Medical School. He never let it affect his life’s work, itself a major accomplishment he never made a big deal out of. It spoke volumes.

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