“Crazy” is in the eye of the beholder

I spent most of last week on vacation in New York City.  It was my husband’s first time there, so we checked out some of the tourist attractions.  That included a boat tour around lower Manhattan.  After taking a good look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, I went inside to warm up and took a gander at Twitter.  One story caught my eye.  It was Eric Schelzig’s piece on the governor’s criticism of the media.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We’re redefining accountability, and you’d be hard-pressed to find 100 lines of print in any paper of the state,” Haslam said. “Now, today in the Legislature there’s a conversation about saggy pants and what they should do there.”

“So we have to go to our friends in the media and say: ‘Really?’”

My initial response after reading the story was: Really?

But here’s the excerpt I want to talk about:

Haslam couldn’t explain why so many distracting matters were being taken up by the Republican-controlled Legislature. And he declined to call on lawmakers to change their ways.

“I will blame them when the media says, ‘We can do a better job with being substantive about issue coverage,’” he said.

The governor said he is perplexed about why issues with little chance of becoming law tend to capture the imagination of reporters.

With all due respect to the governor, I believe the saggy pants bill and the evolution bill are currently on his desk awaiting his signature.  The horse slaughter bill is up on the House floor tonight. 

Here’s my beef: the governor calls these “crazy” issues, and he’s not alone in believing that. However, his colleagues in the legislature are dead serious about some of these issues. Rep. Holt is doing all he can to allow a horse slaughter plant to come into the state.  The “don’t say gay” bill and the “license to bully” are hugely important issues to groups like the Family Action Council and the TN Equality Project.  In the instance of “don’t say gay”, you even have a Minnesota school district with a “neutrality” stance that may have contributed to a rash of teen suicides.  Ask scientists or  those with deeply-held religious convictions what they think about the evolution bill, and they’ll tell you exactly what they think .  Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and passed a subcommittee here.  To say it’s crazy, well, that’s to ignore there are people on both sides of the issue who feel strongly about it.   Joe Towns has been fighting to pass his saggy pants bill for years.  I dare say, there are more kids wearing saggy pants to school than people who  will be directly impacted by the elimination of the inheritance tax.   That’s not to say that eliminating the inheritance tax isn’t a hugely important issue, and it’s gotten coverage. 

“Crazy” is in the eye of the beholder.  And not everyone in the governor’s party agrees with his assessment of “crazy”.  I’ve covered the governor’s domestic violence proposal, the food tax reduction, and issues surrounding synthetic drugs and prescription drug abuse.  I’ve spent a lot of time covering the NCLB waiver and done stories about the switch to common core standards. However, we cover what’s happening.  A lot of time in the legislature is being spent on these other issues.  These issues have constituencies who feel passionately about them. In the end, blaming the media does nothing except get me to write a long blog about it.

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3 thoughts on ““Crazy” is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Teddy Bart nailed it when he said “you can talk about Tenncare and people’s eyes will glaze over, but mention something off color and you’ve got their attention”. The. Budget, Team bill, etc are both long and difficult to understand. It takes time to read and understand them. A 3 minute broadcast can’t cover it, but it can cover a saggy pants bill. Therein lies the problem. How much time does a reporter spend on research, so they can explain the issue? If people can’t understand the issue, they turn it to something they can understand. Is it the message or the delivery of the message that is at fault?

  2. The governor said he is perplexed about why issues with little chance of becoming law tend to capture the imagination of reporters.

    Ummm .. actually, NO, a lot of these crazy bills DO get voted on and pass and DO become law. Guns-in-bars? Agenda 21? The anti-evolution bill that PASSED and awaits your signature? The attacks on women’s healthcare and reproductive rights? To say these things “have little chance of becoming law” is just flat-out, pants-on-fire wrong. These things ARE the law and a lot of people are pissed off about it.

    I’m sorry Gov. Haslam if you would just prefer that we all shut up about this stuff but as long as the wackadoodles at the state capitol insist on dragging this state back two centuries with a bunch of fringe stuff pushed by the folks at WorldNet Daily, we’re going to scream and holler about it. And let me add: the majority of this wacky stuff comes from YOUR party, Gov. Haslam. If you can’t control the crazies in your own party then what the hell are you doing as governor? Don’t blame the media for the failures of Tennessee Republicans.

  3. Pingback: vibinc » Blog Archive » Spineless Cop-out on “Monkey” Bill #TNLeg #TNGov

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