Time wasted on superficial problems

Posted 9/19/18

I’ve become more and more critical of my profession lately, in case you haven’t noticed, what with my weekly Headline of Note feature.

That criticism, while mostly designed to elicit a …

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Time wasted on superficial problems


I’ve become more and more critical of my profession lately, in case you haven’t noticed, what with my weekly Headline of Note feature.

That criticism, while mostly designed to elicit a chuckle, has an undertone of sadness, in that the majority of the people in my industry have become less interested in the truth and more interested in gossip and gotcha stories.

Take the latest example of things that are coming out of The New York Times, which at one point was the standard to which all newspapers aspired to: State Department spent $52,701 on curtains for Nikki Haley’s residence.

Bear with me while I unpack this, cause there’s a lot going on here.

For starters, we’ll deal with the fact that there should be no way that tax dollars should be spent on such frivolity, unless it’s for a building under government ownership. Even then, $52,000? That amount is ridiculous.

The story goes on to say that her residence also is paid for by the State Department, at a rate of $58,000 a month, ostensibly because of her position as ambassador to the United Nations. It, of course, would give her quick access to the U.N.

Short of the president, and actual ambassadors living in other countries, why are we providing housing for government appointees? Those of us in the private sector have to provide our own homes. If this is deemed necessary, why aren’t we searching for something a little more affordable, especially since the State Department is supposedly cutting its budget and has frozen hiring.

The story goes on to say that her deputy gets digs on the taxpayer dime, as well.

While all of that is paid lip service in the article, the headline gives you the impression that this is a recent development.

It’s not.

The decision to buy these curtains was made in 2016. However, the Times could be seen as using this in this way to take a swipe — one of many so far — at the Trump Administration, as included in the piece was a paragraph detailing the purchase of a $31,000 dining room set for Dr. Ben Carson’s office in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

So while the story has merit in that it highlights a spending issue in the government, it’s larger point is lost as the highly charged atmosphere surrounding politics is making the larger news organizations (and even some not-so-large) continue a campaign against a man who is thought of as an usurper in the White House.

Had this been me, my headline would say “Curtain purchase highlights spending issues at the federal level.”

More information — such as the fact that the government has been operating without a budget since the Obama Administration — would be the perfect way to support the story.

But budget matters I guess are much more boring that attacks on Trump.

I get that the majority of liberals despise the president, and it’s their right to do so. Many of our national media outlets, however, are comprised of such people, and it’s doing a disservice to the public to keep hammering the man.

I’ve always believed that all things being equal, the public is a lot smarter than it’s given credit for, and if us “yokels” are given information properly, we’ll come up with the right conclusion. Don’t tell us what to think, though, because that’s is not what journalism is about.

When the people of this country are informed properly, then the results of that, particularly at the ballot box, will be much more palatable. That should reflect in the federal budget, too.

Tony Farkas is publisher of the Madisonville Meteor.