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Do We All Have To Apologize?

Someone, somewhere, decided to pull out 2014 article about a debutant ball Elle Kemper attended in 1999. And Tweeted about it.

McGraw Milhaven

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Let me apologize.  For what? I have no idea.

Here in St Louis we have been dealing with a made up controversy for the last two weeks.  Maybe you’ve heard about it?  It all started the Tuesday after Memorial Day, normally a slow news day. 

Someone, somewhere, decided to pull out a 2014 article about a debutant ball Elle Kemper attended in 1999. And Tweeted about it.  (Kemper from a well-known family in STL, now famous her role in “The Office” as well as other well-respected projects)

I didn’t get the controversy. The organization connected to the ball, the Veiled Prophet, hosts a yearly “Ball”.  It’s a high society event for all the well-to-do in St Louis.  At one point, it was discriminatory towards blacks and Jewish people.  But that was years ago, and years before Kemper was involved in 1999.  Today, the group is a model of diversity and gives back to the entire community in thousands of ways that make St Louis proud.

This story made news on Tuesday, and again Wednesday.  “The Five” on Fox News talked about.  Still I didn’t get the controversy. 

Thursday, Friday, more outlets picked it up.  Now a whole host of people were offended on Friday for something they didn’t care about on Tuesday.

Then, over the weekend, Kemper offered what can only be described as a classy move.  She apologized.  A very real, and very thoughtful, apology. 

Let’s recap, she apologized in 2021, for an article that appeared in 2014, about a dance she attended in 1999 at age 19, with an organization that discriminated on the basis of race and religion before she was born.            

I had to ask a question to my radio audience, “Can someone educated me on why she had to apologize?”  And if she has to apologize, does that mean every single girl who attended the ball in 1999 apologize?  How about the young woman that attend this year? Should they pre-apologize as not to offend, and is a pre-apology enough, or must they post-apologize if they are selected as the queen?  I wasn’t trying to be a talk show host stirring up controversy, I truly don’t understand.

I like to think of myself as someone who is well rounded, and can understand, if not agree, with a different point of view.  This makes no sense to me.

I received lots of hate texts calling me a racist and spreading racist radio (didn’t understand that either), but all the phone calls were supportive of my position.   Texts would rather call me names and hide, people who agreed with me felt comfortable calling.

I never really got a coherent answer, either way. 

Should all of MLB players apologize? Baseball has a long history of discrimination, long after they let Jackie Robinson play. What about Tiger Woods and his five green jackets?  He’s half African American, 100% minority. Yet he played at Augusta when they were currently discriminating against woman members.  Should he give the jackets back ?  Apologize?

Do we all have to apologize?  For everything everyone did before we came along.  Will my daughter have to apologize for this article years from now because her father wasn’t smart enough to understand ?

Never really got an answer. 

If we continue to talk past each other, never have an honest and open discussion, what chance do we have to understand each other and get past this madding time of fake news and faux outrage? 

PS:
Two hours after the show, it was announced Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor” franchise is officially stepping aside after 20 years. His crime? Someone else, a constant on the show, went to a debutante ball in 2018. 

Someone, anyone,  please a little help ??

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BNM Writers

The Debate About Debates Will Continue to Rage On

I’ve determined that it’s a no-win for the moderator. Interrupt too much, and you’re a jerk. Stick to time too much, and you’re a neurotic jerk.

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A photo of the 2024 Republican Presidential candidates
(Photo: Fox News)

There’s been so much talk about debates ever since President Joe Biden and Donald Trump agreed to two of them.

Do we need them? If so, how many? Too many. Not enough. Who are they even for?

Microphones: Should there be a kill switch?

Audience: To have or to have not.

Then, there’s the issue of the moderating.

Why does everyone stink at it? How involved should they be? How many should there be? Even on Barrett News Media, their very own existence was put up for debate.

I have done one in my career. It was “meh” at best. It may be one of my legitimate blind spots (and here you are, thinking I can do anything).

Despite all of those above questions and a certain modicum of self-doubt about my ability to perform the duty well, I am all in for doing them locally — whenever and wherever possible.

In studio. At a diner. Library. Church. Ice cream shop. You name it.

Why?

Good, bad, or indifferent, it satisfies a big thirst in the local news desert, and it’s great exposure for the station and the show.

The companies that produce written words (formerly known as newspapers) don’t seem overly interested in leading the way with political coverage. When there’s a news conference or nominating event, they cover it, but there’s very little enterprise reporting at the moment.

Same with television, and some local stations don’t even have a dedicated political reporter anymore.

10 years ago, congressional candidates might not even consider a radio-focused debate. Television was king, and newspapers were thorough. Now, as it sits, things are different, and if I land a congressional or senate race, I can go get TV to simulcast – and not the other way around. Even if the TV stations don’t bite on the opportunity, I can record it myself and post it on YouTube.

Having said all that, I am not 100 percent certain of this, but I think it’s true. And we’re about to test it.

My initial approach is the lowest-hanging fruit – candidates who need exposure badly. In my state, that’s the Republican primary in the race to face two-time incumbent Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Murphy is a huge favorite, and the Republican primary will get very little attention.

Motivated candidates. Under-the-radar race. Perfect for me.

Then, there’s actually a race garnering national attention that I will take a shot at. Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District has a rematch from 2022, and it’s close – really close. The Republican candidate will take as many debates as possible, and the Democrat may bite because my show has a lot of unaffiliated voters. She needs them to keep her seat.

As for the debates themselves? Let’s be honest, there’s a cringy-ness to political debates. People are nervous. Time is limited, and it’s bizarre to say negative things about a person when they are right next to you.

That’s why we watch and listen even if our minds are made up about voting.

As a moderator, the issues are myriad. What kind of format should you have? Well-defined timing and rebuttals or let them go? How do you fact-check in real-time when you have a staff of two? What kind of questions should you ask? Where should it be? Live audience? Allow parties to have an equal number of “guests”, or have it be a free-for-all for attendance?

I’ve determined that it’s a no-win for the moderator. Interrupt too much, and you’re a jerk. Stick to time too much, and you’re a neurotic jerk. Let them go, and you’re a wimp. Have an imbalance in talk time, and you’re biased.

I don’t care; it’s worth it, especially since single-host radio seems more fluid and better set up for authentic debate. I won’t (hopefully) have to share time with one or two other moderators, and with radio, it feels easier to interject, deflect, and pivot.

Maybe that’s just a feeling, but it’s how I feel.

Oh, and one last thing. Do me a favor: Don’t share this article or tell anyone. I don’t want the TV guys to know I’ve got the jump on them.

Thanks.

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BNM Writers

2024 Presidential Race Has a Media Problem

It’s not just the media’s fault, political candidates typically stick with more friendly outlets.

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President Biden recently said he was Vice President under Barack Obama when COVID started. This is false. President Trump spends more time “truthing” in ALL CAPS than he does in the “Ice Box” New York Courtroom. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a worm in his brain which gives him short-term memory loss. These are the three candidates who are dominating the media headlines for the 2024 election.

But, are these men the best candidates America has to offer? Unlikely, but it is what we have because the media and the political establishment have drowned out our ability to have rational people running for political office. It’s time for the media to do better.

Most outlets pander to their audience which enables confirmation bias (all things we’ve talked about before). Through all the skewed news, there is one cable news outlet that’s been capable of having substantial air time with all three candidates, CNN. Their coverage, however, is laced with criticism:

Mediaite: CNN Called Out For Not Fact-Checking Biden Interview With Erin Burnett

CNN: Analysis: CNN faces harsh criticism after Trump unleashed a firehose of lies during its live town hall

Real Clear Politics: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: CNN Edited Interview So It Looked Like I Said Biden Was More Of A Threat To Democracy Than Trump

In essence, what these articles say is CNN lets major political candidates slide while subsequently chopping up interviews from third-party candidates. Oliver Darcy’s article does note CNN defended itself for letting Trump rampage on about election interference saying, “That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.” But letting a candidate repeatedly say the 2020 election was stolen is hardly holding him accountable.

This is why it’s not shocking both the Biden and Trump campaigns agreed upon “The most trusted name in news” to host their first debate. Despite the outlet having less than One Million viewers for their day (462,000) and primetime (601,000) Nielsen ratings in March.

It’s not just the media’s fault, political candidates typically stick with more friendly outlets. The media does try and reach out to opposing candidates (okay, some outlets don’t really try to get opposing politicians and that’s a different story) but very few politicians can handle the pressure from the opposing side.

If a political candidate can not take the heat from so-called “journalists” who are challenging you with the opposing side of an argument, how are you going to handle everyone else in the world (because let’s face it even some of our closest allies aren’t the biggest fans of US).

The media is the 4th estate, which means we have to confront, pester, and question our politicians (even when we agree with them). Very few members of the press do this now and the ones who do are labeled as ‘difficult’ by media outlets and often ignored by politicians.

Aside from the labels, some (but not enough) in the mainstream media aren’t openly recognizing the biggest elephant in room, the age of our politicians. In 2023, Statista reported, the average age of the House of Representatives is 57.9 (this isn’t bad). The average age in the Senate is 64 (not great but I’ll take it). Out of all of these politicians, the best we can do are three guys who are in their 70s and 80s. Whenever Joe Biden stumbles up the stairs or opens his mouth I’m not sure if I’m watching a real-life remake of Weekend at Bernie’s or I’m watching elder abuse.

There are over 330 million people living in the United States. Most voting-age adults did not want to see a Trump/Biden match-up again yet, here we are. Mr. Kennedy likely won’t make the Oval Office. He will, however, take votes away from both Democrat and Republican candidates.

The President should represent the best America has to offer. I’d like to think those who’ve held and run for office have been at their best, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Historically some haven’t been, but at least LBJ and Taft tried.

When the media doesn’t confront, pester, and question our politicians it shows they have given up. It is the media saying these three are the best America has to offer, (a guy who might have Alzheimer’s, another who might be a narcissist, and the third who admits to having a worm in his brain). It’s a travesty. A Democratic Republic (because America is not a Democracy) only works when every power does its job correctly. Ben Franklin said it, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Right now the media is not doing enough due diligence to keep it.

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Norah O’Donnell Interview With Pope Francis Leads 60 Minutes to 18% Ratings Jump

It was its most-watched edition in five weeks, and the third-most watched within the past ten weeks.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of Norah O'Donnell interviewing the Pope
(Photo: CBS News)

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell sat down with Pope Francis for a historic interview that originally aired on Sunday, May 19 on 60 Minutes. This was the first time a pope has given an in-depth, one-on-one interview to a U.S. broadcast network. It also marked the 56th  season finale of the long-running CBS newsmagazine.

Among the topics discussed in the interview were same-sex marriage, clergy sexual abuse scandals, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and the migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the May 19 edition of 60 Minutes averaged 7.33 million viewers. up +18 percent from its prior week and ranking first in the hour. It was its most-watched edition in five weeks, and the third-most watched within the past ten weeks, behind March Madness Elite-8-fueled Mar. 31 (10.365 million) and Masters golf-fueled Apr. 14 (8.588 million). 

One factor of the increase was what led into it: the final round of the major golf tournament, the PGA Championship (4.958 million for 1-7:14 PM ET, above average from a regular golf tournament audience).

A lengthier version of the interview Norah O’Donnell held with Pope Francis aired on CBS the following night on Monday, May 20 at 10 PM ET. That delivered an audience of 2.247 million viewers, which placed behind NBC’s Weakest Link (3.011 million) and Fox News’ Gutfeld! (2.871 million) within the hour.

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