I did Council Call on WYPL, the library channel, Thursday evening with my friend and colleague Jackson Baker of The Memphis Flyer. Many thanks to City Council member Shea Flinn for inviting us during his turn to host the program. While we were live, I’m sure it will be repeated at least a few more times.
With that trio around a table, the topic was, as you might have guessed – politics. It was a good discussion and like the best discussions there was some disagreement. So if you tune in, you won’t have to worry about the choir singing all the same notes from the same page of the hymnbook.
Some in this line of work worry that there is too much commiseration particularly among political reporters. The result, the criticism goes, is a view of politics that is too uniform.
That can happen. I’m not discounting it. But one of the reasons political reporters tend to talk about what they cover so much is for a reality check.
We hear some pretty strange things during the course of a campaign from people wearing suits and ties, with college degrees on the wall and a decent amount of financial backing and public support.
Sometimes you have to look at the folks next to you on the press riser or in the back of the meeting room and ask, “Did you just hear what I just heard?”
Of course, you then ask the candidate if he or she said what they usually did say. In some cases the damage control begins at that point, before all of the crowd has left the room. Other times, we deal with political figures who will gladly make the controversial statement again – verbatim – and will say it again several days later for anyone who might not have caught it the first five times.
There is competition to be sure. That competition is a blend of showing up at the same events, finding time for one on one talks that fill in the background and knowing how to read the signs on indicators that probably no one who knows is going to talk about.
On another note, the last time I was on the program with Shea and Jackson, we didn’t have a table. That prompted my brother, John, to remark about my socks. Light gray athletic — or what we of Frayser used to call “sweat” socks — because I walk a lot. And they do show up remarkably well on television, I might add. It was a busy day so there I was at air time wearing the same shameful style of socks, but not to worry. The table covers a multitude of sins.