Since my column this week is a Q-and-A on letters, let’s start this week with our Twitter burns. Someone seems to be getting even more unhinged, if that’s possible, what with Jared Kushner being questioned and throwing his brother-in-law under the bus, Spicey and lawyers quitting, and all manner of fun stuff going on (like the possibility that Robert Mueller is looking at tRump’s tax records). Sooooo much to laugh at …
I’ve been amused by the hard-right Trumpers who seem to think that the mainstream media loves Sean Spicer now that he’s quit the White House. Looks to me like most are feeling sorry for the guy … which seemed nearly impossible till last week. I’m not seeing the love … it’s pretty hard to love someone who treats you like crap.
Have I mentioned lately how much I really don’t like hot weather? It makes me cranky, and with no cat to calm me down at the moment, I must find other ways to relieve that surliness.
So, yep, you guessed it … time for more snarky answers to your questions. Once it gets back down in the 70s and lower, maybe I won’t be quite so cranky.
Q. Why are you such a meanie?
A. It’s kinda fun. That is, when I’m actually mean, which isn’t often. Most of the time I’m just kind of a goofy smart-aleck.
Q. Why did you run that ugly photo of (fill in the blank)? And why are you reporting bad things about the president?
A. Hold up there, Buttercup. That’s not me, as opinion and news are separate at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and most if not all major newspapers. I haven’t been on the news side of the paper since I started on the Voices page in July 2011, and even before that, I was simply a copy editor, news clerk, and occasional feature writer, and had no power to determine what photos, news stories or anything else ran. I’ve never been all that powerful, really.
I can say that as far as national and international photos go, the newspaper uses what is put out by wire services, and those photos aren’t set up like Glamour Shots, but are taken on the fly (ya know, because they’re news). The newspaper reports bad (and good) things about every president if that’s what is in the news. I and others on this page may comment on politics from time to time, but that’s opinion, not news.
Q. Why do you hate Donald Trump? You print all these anti-Trump letters and rarely print anything supporting him.
A. I don’t really hate Donald Trump. I strongly detest that he manages to keep people believing things that are so laughably easy to prove untrue (largest inaugural audience ever????), just as I would anyone who abused such sway. But that has nothing to do with what letters are printed, and the overwhelming majority of printable political letters I get are anti-Trump. And who can really say that isn’t to be expected, especially considering the massive tweetstorms he’s been perpetrating lately, which just fan the flames rather than serve as the distraction he seems to want?
I can’t print letters I don’t get, nor can I print letters from those who haven’t answered requests to print unless they happen to have given blanket permission previously, and even they don’t get all their letters printed.
Q. But I’ve sent in letters that haven’t been printed. It’s obviously because of your bias.
A. What’s that people say when they dump you? In this case, it’s not me, it’s you if, for example:
👿 You accused someone of being a criminal who has not been convicted or even charged with a crime. Not liking someone doesn’t mean that person is a criminal; being convicted, on the other hand, does.
🤥 You used debunked talking points. Talking points in general can be enough to make me skip over a letter (especially when a whole lot of people use those exact arguments … I feel like I’m reading the same thing repeatedly, and that’s just frustrating). When they’re things that have been proved false (meaning by independent, nonpartisan fact-checkers who show their work and use original sources), they’ll go into the reject pile after I roll my eyes for the thousandth time. Liberals, conservatives, independents and others all get the same treatment. And remember, since it’s just me now, it takes longer for me to fact-check things, so if you have much that needs to be checked, it may be a while. If you include your sources, it will speed things along.
Sometimes a letter just needs attribution if something is stated as fact but might have been debunked or is obviously false. For example, if Barack Obama said the sky is Burberry plaid (which it clearly isn’t), you can say, “The sky is Burberry plaid, according to Barack Obama.” Simple, really, as long as that person actually said what you say he did (yeah, Obama didn’t say that, if you were wondering).
🙊 You called another reader stupid. Seriously? Are we still on the playground? Columnists and politicians can be expected to be called morons as part of the job, but people who simply write a letter didn’t ask for that abuse.
💩 You used language unacceptable in a family newspaper. If your grandma would smack you upside your head for saying something, don’t write it in a letter, please.
🤔 You wrote word salad, or your handwriting is illegible. If I can’t figure it out, it’s not going in.
💬 You failed to include contact information (email, daytime phone number, etc.), or to sign your name (because we don’t print anonymous letters).
Yeah, I know, it’s heartless of me to expect everyone to play by the rules, ’cause, ya know, rules are for sissies. And yet …
Rules are in place for a reason. Sure, occasionally one will be bent, but that’s determined on a case-by-case basis, and isn’t contingent on partisanship. We don’t have a quota, and quite frankly, I would love to print more conservative letters than have been printed lately. But again, that’s up to you.
Boy, I’m really looking forward to being less cranky and writing about words again. That’s much more fun.