I have worked on daily newspapers more than 30 years. Over that time, a journalist can get a feel for campaign season.
In the final two or three weeks before Election Day, people get crabbier. And suspicious. And accusatory. Folks will find reason to complain. It is “crunch time.” The stakes are high. Many people are working night and day for their candidates or issues, and the strain is starting to show.
Democrat or Republican, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a non-partisan reality.
This campaign season is no exception.
It has gotten to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised to receive a complaint that, if the Telegraph Herald carrier tosses the paper toward the left half of a subscriber’s front porch, that will prove the paper’s liberal bias. Or, on the right half, our conservative leanings.
Over just the past couple of days, I have been called a socialist. We lost a subscriber because we covered Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s speech at Clarke College without challenging all his statements and detailing the skeletons in his family’s closet. Another subscriber said my decisions on what letters to the editor are published are based on the TH Editorial Board’s endorsements.
The various complaints of excessive liberalism or conservatism don’t surprise me. The stronger people hold to his or her beliefs, the more likely they are to consider media coverage or commentary to be unfair and contrary to their opinions.
In a scientific survey we commissioned a year or so ago — the great majority of respondents said the TH was neither liberal or conservative. Among those who felt otherwise, about half said we are liberal and the other half said we are conservative. I figure that’s a good place to be.
One thing has changed, at least in my observation, over the past three decades. It’s unfortunate that people seem less willing to accept that folks who hold a different opinion are not automatically bad, evil or stupid.
Democracy is about discussion, debate and decisions. Thoughtful people should be able to disagree without demonizing the other side. But it seems that people are less willing to believe that.
Take heart: Two weeks from Tuesday, Election 2006 will be history.