A politician out of the Bill O’Reilly mold

By Steve Outing

I had an odd (and I thought disturbing) phone call this week from the office of U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma). One of his staff members called to invite me to be on some small business/entrepreneurial task force. Apparently the congressman is trying to put together a group of small-business owners from around the country to “advise” Congress on the needs of entrepreneurs.

After the assistant told me what this was about, he let me listen to a 60-second recorded pitch from Cole — in which the congressman basically ranted about how “liberal Democrats” are out to tax small businesses to death and must be stopped! He sounded more like Bill O’Reilly than a rational and thoughtful representative of the people of Oklahoma.

I told the assistant I thought Cole’s views were disturbing, and antithetical to my own, and declined the invitation. Cole didn’t sound like he had any interest in taking a reasonable view of small business’ needs; he’s obviously got a (right wing) axe to grind.

How sad that our elected representatives are so one-sided and dogmatic. The last thing we need in the U.S. is politicians who sound and act like O’Reilly.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

8 Responses to "A politician out of the Bill O’Reilly mold"

  1. Howard Owens
    Howard Owens 10 years ago .Reply

    Steve, while you doing one piece that touches on politics is one thing … perfectly legitimate subject. What tarnishes E&P is Greg Mitchell\'s constant partisan drumbeating. Every issue, another left-leaning column about Iraq. It\'s tiresome. And it reflects poorly on journalism to have the editor of our leading trade pub constantly pushing a partisan agenda. So maybe you\'re getting some of that backlash.

  2. Larry
    Larry 10 years ago .Reply

    Steve: Good points, especially this one, on objectivity, \"The problem with that kind of coverage is that it doesn\'t permit journalists to find the truth in an issue…\" I think one of the struggles of the press, and journalists, is their forgotten purpose to \"find the truth in an issue\" and share that truth. There is a difference between \"\"truth\" and \"partisanship.\" But very quickly, when truth is spoken, even with solid fact, relevant reference, research and expert opinion, comes the attack of the \"partisan\" label from those to whom truth is a threat. This is not new … but does require columns expressing ideas like your current viewpoint to remind those of us in the media of the obligation to share truth when truth is found, even in the face of fear of the \"partisan\" label, nasty names, or worse.

  3. Christopher Ryan
    Christopher Ryan 10 years ago .Reply

    The problem may be the phrase \"advocacy\", which does raise lots of justified concerns. I\'d love to see newspapers evaluate the facts behind the various positions on major issues, instead of \'balanced\' coverage that gives equal weight to the \'he-said, she-said\' positions. That would accomplish much of what Steve wants, in the case of global warming — not to mention serving the public. I think it\'s very clear by now that the warming-deniers are, well, wrong (to put it politely). Newspapers shouldn\'t be afraid to say so.

  4. Nick
    Nick 10 years ago .Reply

    Journalists, no matter how hard they try, will be labeled too liberal or too conservative by one group or another. The problem with that is then it makes our community afraid to tackle testy issues. Conservative-leaning groups have done an excellent job over the past 30 years labeling anything that comes from the news media (or the news media itself) as \"liberal,\" even if it is factual. It\'s a fallacy in debate — calling something liberal or conservative without actually addressing the factual problems (if there are any.)

  5. Amy Gahran
    Amy Gahran 10 years ago .Reply

    Steve, this is very interesting to me. Among other things I\'m a longtime environment/energy journalist and I\'m very active in the Society of Environmental Journalists.

    Many journalists on the environment beat face a constant battle in and out of the newsroom — namely, they\'re often accused of bias or partisanship *simply for being on the environment beat.* That wears on them, and some of them get pretty defensive about it — maybe even reactionary. In other cases, editors are the ones who fear accusations of bias and require or insert the \"he said, she said\" approach to climate coverage.

    That is changing at some news organizations, however. It\'s important not to paint all mainstream climate coverage with the same broad brush. It really depends on the people and news organizations involved.

    SEJ\'s conference is coming up next week in Stanford. I\'m running the unofficial conference blog (http://sej2007.com). I just linkblogged your E&P column, but I\'ll also write up a post on it tomorrow (Friday — wow, no, that\'s today, I\'m up late!)

    I encourage journalists and others interested in this issue to check out the conference blog over the coming weeks. I and the other volunteer contributors will be posting about the discussion of this issue.

    Thanks

    Amy Gahran

  6. Mindy McAdams
    Mindy McAdams 10 years ago .Reply

    I find it interesting that E&P still does not allow comments to be posted directly on your columns, Steve. Some interesting discussions might arise there if it were a two-way conversation. It seems unwieldy to discuss the column here, on another site, instead of over there, where the controversial words appear.

  7. Steve
    Steve 10 years ago .Reply

    Mindy: I\'ve asked for this many times over the years, and have always been told it\'s a CMS issue. I too wish that comments were possible on the column itself. As a freelancer for E&P, I don\'t have any control over such things.

  8. Mindy McAdams
    Mindy McAdams 10 years ago .Reply

    I didn\'t mean to put it on you, Steve. To me it reflects the print bias of E&P — they don\'t want to open up the conversation. I know you would, if it were up to you.

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