Bill O’Reilly Asks: Should Politicians Be Role Models?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 23rd, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

This past Thursday and Friday on Fox News Bill O’Reilly spent time talking about  and his affair with his maid and the resulting love child. O’Reilly is concerned with the pervasiveness of social media and the internet and the implications for good people who make mistakes and their ability to run for office.

To be fair, Mr. Bill was not making light of Arnold’s or John Edwards’ infidelities. He questioned what if any impact the stress of the Governator’s personal situation might have had on the escalating California debt under his tenure.

But then O’Reilly veers off into the role model question and how false rumors, misinformation, or past mistakes can run rampant on the internet and prevent good people from running for office.

He goes so far as to mention the flaws and mistakes of some of the founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, who had an affair with his slave, and how they couldn’t get elected in today’s culture.

First, let me say Bill, that sounds like you’re justifying bad behavior of today with bad behavior of the past; something you frequently dissuade your guests for doing. Second, I think we have to make a distinction between false rumors and past mistakes. I think good people of all political persuasions can agree that there should be no place for false rumors and lies.

Past mistakes or questionable moral decisions should be vetted, owned up to and left up to the American people as to how much they want to let it affect their vote. After all, we are talking about the most powerful and important positions in our country. I once had to go through a ten-year background check to get a job in retail at a department store. It should be harder to get a job in government than it is at Macy’s.

The role model question: If as a society we can place this kind of pressure and responsibility on our star athletes and our entertainers, (See the scrutiny TNT analyst and retired Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley received for his, “I am not a role model”, commercial in 1993) we can do the same or more for those who would be Commander-in-Chief and leaders of the free world.

However, our collective differences, cultural, religious and so on make it impossible for any public figure to live up to what everyone’s definition is of what makes a good role model. The axiom, you can’t please all of the people all of the time applies here. What we have a right to expect is honesty, consistency, integrity, loyalty, leadership, and qualities that evoke respect and trust.

Further, how politicians respond to the mistakes that we all make says as much or more about their character than the mistake itself. As your ilk has said on many occasions Bill: The cover up is worse than the crime.

From the perspective of a politician, the risk of covering up a mistake has been worth the reward of political advancement and the power and prestige that comes with it. So they lie, cover up and compound their errors or questionable judgment.

Today’s media, the internet, the bloggers and digital technology does make it harder for one to cover their tracks. I say that is a good thing. Let the politicians of tomorrow beware; your mistakes will follow you. Mistakes, or arrogance, immorality, corruption and so on. So don’t make them, but if you do, deal with them in a responsible way with integrity.

You see the flip side is Americans are a very forgiving and understanding society. George W. Bush was elected despite a DUI. Bill Clinton, was elected even though he claimed not to inhale and was reelected despite extra marital activity.

Further, the possible candidates have increased over the years which runs counter to the inference that social media is making it harder. For example, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and President Obama are examples of those that would not have made it to the primary season as viable candidates when I was growing up:

  • Newt, with his three marriages and affairs.
  • Rudy and his affair/divorce.
  • Hillary being a female, Mitt Romney being a Mormon.
  • President Obama, with Sean Hannity, yourself, and others on the radio, internet et al inundating the public with his association with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.

Of course not to suggest that any or all of these things are mistakes, I’m just making the point that the voter is more open than ever before and is not so quick to eliminate possible candidates for reasons they would have in the past.

Gary Hart for example decided not to run, even though he was leading in the poles, for the democratic nomination in 1987 due to an extra marital affair that he lied about. In 1987, long before Twitter, Hart was in a lose- lose situation based on the mores of the time.

Today, a viable candidate can overcome an affair, if he (or she) is honest about it when confronted and deals with it in a way acceptable to the electorate. And if a potential candidate doesn’t run for office because he is afraid that a past situation may come to light and he doesn’t want to be honest about it, than that is not on social media, it is on the individual.

Whether it is counteracting the swift boating of John Kerry, or the mainstream media’s assault on President Bush’s National Guard service record, the independent blogger not only brings a new level of accountability to politicians but to the mainstream media and lobbyists as well.

Those are good things. Lying, smearing and character assassinations are among its flaws, but lets not pretend (which you don’t) this doesn’t go on in every other form of media already. It takes a huge amount of money and fundraising to be a viable candidate (which is a problem in and of itself) and it is up to politicians to adapt to the growth of the media and its social arm and as always have the fortitude to see a campaign through.

Despite the growth of the media the pundits seem to agree that: jobs, the deficit, gas prices and real issues will decide the next election and not what some right-wing radical or left-wing loon says on his facebook page.

One of the best lines I have ever heard in a political add is, “character is defined by what you do when people are not looking”. Again, everyone makes mistakes, but it is fair to evaluate candidates based on how they deal with them.

More than just a right to know, the public has a right to expect candidates to be willingly vetted and honest about their record, their behavior and why they did or do certain things. In dealing with past mistakes, crimes, or decisions of questionable moral certitude with honor, instead of deception and cover up, that is how a politician can model good behavior. That is a reasonable expectation for us to have of those who would be our leaders.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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What Facebook and Twitter Taught Me About Osama Bin Laden’s Death

Another Call for Civility

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 2nd, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

Last night was a good night to be an American. After about ten long years, the families of the victims of 9/11 and all of the others who suffered or died by the hand of Osama bin Laden received justice. Americans received justice and we felt good about it.

President Obama made a good speech hitting the right notes along the way. In the beginning he highlighted how united we were as a country in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack and at the end he tried to inspire us to come together like that again.But then I went on facebook and twitter, and while most of the comments I read were a combination of proud sentiments, wishes for the victims families, and jokes about Osama, there were still partisan comments that were anti Bush, Donald Trump and even cynicism towards Obama for the timing of OBL’s death. Really? All of this occurring within an hour of the announcement.

This reminds me that it hasn’t been that long since the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. After which, there was a call from many corners to tame down the rhetoric. Slandering your opposition, hate filled speech and labeling your opposition’s motives as nefarious were being spotlighted as potentially endangering lives and contributing to the growing divide in the country. Giffords’ gunman may have turned out to be a lone nut without political motive but the righteous calls for civility remained. Those calls didn’t take then, and after last night I am left to wonder if they ever will.

I see good people on both political sides. People that you can trust and count on. People that are good sons and daughters, husband and wives, and that are philanthropic. Fair-minded most of the time, yet when it comes to politics some sort of brainwashing takes over, the fair-mindedness dissipates, and the mind closes. Their words become hate filled, condescending, and or antagonistic. Their judgment of those who would disagree becomes harsh and impaired. They can’t even agree to disagree, for the opposition is either brainwashed, stupid, evil or crazy.

I thought we would get a complete break from this last night. That it would be a coming together moment. And in fairness it was for many. For those people I hope it lasts longer than it seems to have after Congresswoman Giffords was shot. We need it as country to come through these hard economic times and when terrorism is still a threat. Facebook and twitter taught that we may have even further to go than I thought.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

Global Warming: Why it is About More Then Global Warming

Beyond the Rhetoric and the Science

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 18th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

Lets face it, politicians from both major parties have made it difficult for us to trust them. Scientists, while many are noble, many also compete for grants and notoriety, and are not beyond arrogance, greed or corruption. Further, it has been said that statistics can be used to prove any argument.

This is the backdrop for many debates in our society, including global warming. I have no doubt that there are a great many people on both sides of the debate that are more intelligent than I, that passionately, honestly, believe in their point of view. I also have no doubt that there are a great many people on both sides of the debate that put forth their point of view because it is profitable for them to do so, and in the case of politicians it will help them get, or stay in power.

What is an independent minded person to do? For one, not be taken in by either side, accept that there is neither a monopoly on ethical or unethical behavior on either side, and that one of the great lessons of Nazi Germany is not to walk in lock step with your leaders.

You believe the Earth is warming, really? Okay explain to me precisely how exactly it is warming.

You say hogwash the Earth is not warming, really? Okay explain to me precisely how the increase in temperatures over the last ten years is not related to carbon emissions and global warming.

I’m sure there are a small percentage of people reading this that can argue either side. There are also prosecuting attorneys who can convince us that innocent people are murderers as there are defense lawyers who can convince us murders are innocent. We the people rely on scientists and leaders with expertise to form our opinions as most of us are without a deep understanding of the science and minutia that explains what does and doesn’t affect the environment.

How we, “the jury” , arrive at our conclusions depends on who we trust, what seems reasonable based on an elementary understanding, and personal bias. Hardly foolproof.

Further, when stakes and passions are high, ends justify the means thinking enters the fray, and as a result data can get manipulated.  As can opinions and feelings.  Emotionally charged, now those with whom we disagree are not just wrong, they are crazy, evil, corrupt, partisan and so on.

What does that get us? Intellectual masturbation, preaching to respective choirs and basically dooming us to a “taste great!” “Less filling!” argument till the end of time.

This process leads to us tackling some of our most pressing problems at a snails pace, preferring to kick political hot potatoes down the road and allowing a germ to evolve into an epidemic. A sample list includes: oil, social security, immigration, and the environment. Increasing the schism, these days compromise has become a four-letter word. So, global warming, yes or no? If it is yes, then the longer we debate and not do what we can to reverse it, the more potential damage we do to our planet and ourselves. That is the understandable angst that many on the left, or anyone who believes this is so, feels.

As a self-described independent it doesn’t help the global warming argument when no matter what the weather seems to be, hot, cold, snowing, sunny, hurricane, thundering rain, or drought, there is an environmentalist saying that is expected with global warming.

Elevating, manipulating data and or information that supports, and suppressing, manipulating data and or information that doesn’t occurs on both sides and only causes people to want to tune out. We all lose when that happens.

The case has not been made beyond a reasonable doubt, the issue has not been decided and in a country founded on free speech, I’m sorry Al Gore and Bill Maher, I support your cause, but you cannot and will not silence the other side. We can’t be afraid of debate.

I believe the way to “win” is to continue to research, but to focus the argument on humanity. Here we can begin to find facts that we can all agree on: The Universe is a pretty big place. To date we have one place that can sustain our life and that is the Earth.

If I were to ask you to describe your home, the answer for most would be some variation that included a combination of rooms, furniture, bathroom, kitchen and so on. We can be very territorial about our homes, we like it kept the way we like it kept. Me? I’m kind of messy but still have a method to my madness. Not too many of us would take too kindly if a stranger came into our home and started indiscriminately reorganizing things and then urinated in our living room. Understandable. That would be rude to treat our living room like a toilet.

However the truth is, our four walls, and pipes aren’t our home, the Earth is our home. And unlike our precious apartments, houses and condominiums, she is alive. She provides us with land, food and water and an environment in which we survive and thrive. Is it too much to ask to not treat her like a toilet? Too place the burden on something not harming her? More than any life on this planet, she is irreplaceable. Yes?

We’ve all seen this scene play out in a movie: Parents go away entrusting their home to their teenage son or daughter who promises to take care of the house and be responsible. Not five minutes after the parents are out the door, the keg is tapped, the girls have gone wild, and a home that could have appeared in Home and Garden Magazine is now trashed. When the parents inevitably return home before the kids expected they are shocked.

We are currently the dominant species on this planet but we do not own the Earth. She is a precious gift that we have been left in charge of. Whether that gift is from a deity or by chance doesn’t make it less of a gift. We should treat her responsibly and with reverence.

Imagine how much better you’d treat your favorite outfit of clothes if you knew you could never buy anything new again. If your first car were to be the only car you could ever own or drive, maybe you’d do better with maintenance checks. Earth is our one home, our one planet, and she is here providing life not only to us but many other life forms that we are also dependent on, and I would ask you, is it too much to ask that we take that into account?

I believe our attitudes and policy should reflect these truths. To care for our planet humanely and with consideration regardless of where the science is feels right.

Having said all of that, practical considerations can’t be ignored. When policy changes are suggested and brought before congress they have to be meaningful ones to have a chance of gaining needed government and public support.

For example, hypothetically don’t say to me we have to institute policy X which will cost billions, cause tens of thousands to be unemployed and as a result instead of the Earth burning up in a 1000 years it will burn up in 999. That is not the answer. Sacrifice has to have meaning. Not sit around the campfire feel good meaning. Actual meaning.

In the meantime, most of us can make simple practical everyday habits a part of our consciousness and a part of educating our youth. As we wait for governments to do the big things, we earthlings can start doing the small things. I know I can do better. Here is a link with tips for those who are interested. http://www.globalstewards.org/ecotips.htm

And if you, yeah you, the one reading this article, if you can’t do everything, please don’t let that stop you from doing anything. Every little bit helps. Thinking about it, talking about it, taking steps and passing on information in a non-judgmental way, you would be surprised how you can make a difference! Happy Earth Day!

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

Does the Sports Media Have an East Coast Bias?

Dispelling the Myth

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 11th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

Whenever an east coast team, player or league gets attention, especially if it is perceived to be at the expense of another team, player or league that does not play on the east coast, there are cries of east coast bias!

Not only from representatives of the sports media but from sports fans on message boards and blogs as well. Most recently we heard screams over eleven teams from The Big East college basketball conference receiving bids for the NCAA tournament. So, is there a bias?
In the “old” days this bias was said to exist in part because everyone on the east coast was asleep by the time west coast games were over and there would be more coverage of east coast games in the print media the next day as a result. However as the balance of media power shifts more and more away from the print media to digital, on-line media, results and scores are all available by the time we rise and shine.

Editorial content and stories on teams are driven by three factors:

  • Who is winning.
  • who is controversial
  • What the public wants to read.

Further, with ESPN and FOX Sports providing twenty four hour coverage and shows, the accessibly is always there so let’s add who is doing the viewing. Winning, controversy, reading and viewing are mostly neutral factors.

The New York Yankees, The Boston Celtics and the New York Jets are three teams that do seem to garner a lot of attention. Is it because they are on the east coast?

Maybe. In the case of the Yankees and the Celtics, you are talking about the winningest franchises in their respective sports that are frequently in the hunt to compete for championships.

The Jets? Do you think their recent ascension in the media has more to do with their location or their controversial, verbose, toe licking head coach Rex Ryan? Up until the Jets hired Ryan and before they signed Brett Farve, the Jets were the L.A. Clippers of the east, with the New York football Giants serving as the L.A. Lakers in this metaphor.

The Jets fall into the category of controversial and as a rising team. If Rex coached for the Minnesota Vikings rather than the Jets, they would have been the subject of HBO’s Hard Knox. In 2011, the previously little talked about Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the team HBO follows with their brash head coach Raheem Morris and their improved play probably having something to do with their selection.

In the interest of equal time lets talk about non- east coast teams. The Dallas Cowboys, otherwise known as “America’s Team”, The Chicago Bulls, I’m talking Michael Jordan’s Bulls, The San Francisco Forty Niners, circa Joe Montana and The Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant era, take your pick. None of these franchises play on the east coast. Since 1979, the year Magic Johnson was drafted to today, I’d say the Lakers have been the dominant NBA team, winning the most championships, housing the most stars and getting the most media attention. West coast bias anyone?

Would anyone suggest that had Jordan played in Miami on the east coast, he would have received more attention and bias than playing in the Midwest? America’s favorite diva, Brett Farve, may have played a year in New York, but he played for sixteen in Wisconsin. Would anyone suggest that Farve and Green Bay were short changed of coverage in those years? The Denver Broncos seemed to do okay coverage wise with John Elway. The Utah Jazz seemed to get more coverage when they had two hall of famers Karl Malone and John Stockton playing for them. Rightfully so, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts get more attention than Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

With his 100 mile an hour fastball, pitching phenom Steven Strasburg was destined to be a media focal point regardless of where he signed. The momentum was there for him to take off no matter the team that selected him. Why was Fox commentator Joe Buck slobbering all over Strasburg in effort to get him selected to the All-Star game? Because I’m assuming he felt it could help great ratings.

Stirring passions, whether it is love (underdogs) or hate (Yankees) the media will gravitate to whatever it can to up ratings. The hate aspect is not to be underestimated, and the irony is, if there is an east coast bias it exists in part because people love to hate teams like the Yankees that spend money and win.

Controversy and individual players that generate love/hate also sell regardless of the market they play in: Teams that Terrell Owens played for never seemed to lack for coverage. When Latrell Sprewell choked his coach in Golden State, his Q rating seemed to elevate. And of course the aforementioned Brett Farve.

In reality the discussion should not be about location, east coast vs. the rest. It should be big market versus small market bias. The Cleveland Indians, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Orioles and Charlotte Bobcats are just some of the teams that play on the east coast that I doubt anyone thinks there is any kind of bias going in their direction. Further, given that there are a disproportionate amount of professional teams that technically play in the eastern time zone relative to the rest of country it makes sense that the east would get more coverage to some degree without it being a bias. So when people do say east coast bias, I think they’re talking about a handful of teams predominantly in the northeast.

The big market teams tend to (but not always) spend more money on their players, in some cases that leads to winners which leads to coverage. However, when Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks, it didn’t matter that they weren’t on the east coast. Cuban increased payroll, brought in players, is a colorful personality, controversial, and the team started to win more then previously. Thus the media profile went up.

The San Francisco Giants put together a moneyball winner, have a closer, Brian Wilson, with a colorful personality and lo and behold they’re getting coverage and Wilson is capitalizing on endorsements.

Kevin Durant is bringing attention to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is a superstar. The next step is for him to have a Michael Jordan/ Craig Ehlo moment and take his team deeper into the playoffs. If his team progresses, they win a championship and he continues to grow as a player, he and the Thunder will become more of a story, there will be more public interest and the attention and coverage will follow.

If we bring college sports into the conversation, there we see a more even distribution of teams spread out throughout the country. Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Duke, there are plenty of teams that are not in the northeast that dominate coverage and attention based on current success, history and tradition of their program, or a dominant coaching personality. Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, and Larry Brown, should he return to college, where these guys coach media will follow.

Having said all of this you might reach the conclusion that I do not think there is any bias in sports. I wouldn’t go that far. I would say it does exist but to a lesser degree then is often mentioned because of the reasons talked about in this blog.

Where you do see bias is in the reporters reporting the news, picking favorites, criticizing and so on. Human bias is part of the equation in hard news that we see all of the time coming from “journalists”, covering world events.  Of course it will rear itself in the sports world as well where we see fewer journalists, and more fans with microphones, and oh yeah, blogs! In the interest of full disclosure I did grow up in New York.

I started this blog by mentioning the Big East and college basketball. By the way how does the Big East usually do when it comes to bowl selection in college football?

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March 31st, 2011 on ESPN’s First and Ten: In Skip Bayless’ continuing campaign to deny Derrick Rose the MVP he actually said that the Bulls & D. Rose have benefited from the Celtics trade of Kendrick Perkins in pursuit of the number one seed in the east. Funny how Skippy doesn’t mention that the Lakers and Kobe Bryant are benefiting from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker missing games for the Spurs in their pursuit of the number one seed in the west… At least for the first time in a month he didn’t mention Rose’s one bad game in Atlanta.

March 30th, 2011 on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption, Michael Wilbon was emphatic that the Miami Heat loss to the fifteen win Cleveland Cavaliers meant nothing, zero! If Miami winds up not having home court advantage against either Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas or San Antonio because of one loss ask Wilbon the question again of whether or not this loss meant something.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…