Doing Penance

August 29, 2008

I will no longer make sweeping negative generalizations about journalists and the media.

I confess I have a history of being critical of the media.

OK, I confess I have been really critical.

I find myself sitting in my dining room trying to pull together a coherent blog entry for tonight and the room is spinning. Or is it me?

5 days, 3000 miles, 15 hours of sleep, many hours being fed a story by the DNC, and many more hours trying to make sense of what it all means.

It is very apparent to me right now that man does not live by coffee alone.

It is also very apparent to me right now that the adrenal glands only produce a limited amount of adrenaline a week.

Tonight is my penance for all the unfair criticism I have heaped upon journalists.

Its not that I am out of material to blog. To the contrary, I’ve got reams. My flight from Denver to Chicago was the Obama Express, with no fewer than 25 elected officials and delegates. That one flight alone, combined with my ongoing reflection on Obama’s speech and the entire Democratic National Convention, has given me more than enough material for days of blogging.

And then there is the matter of Sarah Palin.

The Democrats on the plane were positively giddy when they heard McCain’s choice. They positively feared Romney, and are thrilled with Palin. They were some high-fives exchanged as the news spread. My guess is that there were Republicans flying to Minneapolis/St. Paul doing high fives for the opposite reason. This choice needs to be analyzed.

The Democrats on my plane were making Inauguration plans. I am guessing there are Republicans doing the same. Ralph Nader is making plans of his own.

All of this requires analysis. This is the moment for intelligent reflection on Sarah Palin and what it means for the Republican National Convention and the Presidential race.

But that reflection won’t be coming from me. Not tonight at least.

I’m doing penance for living 5 days in the fast lane.

But tonight there are men and women who got less sleep than me during the last 5 days who are doing us all a great public service. They are doing what a democracy needs done. They are working to provide us with the best information possible to make informed decisions about the things that matter most.

This week I saw up front and personal how hard it is to be a good journalist. It is easy to be a lazy journalist and end up being a propaganda machine. I have seen some lazy journalists this week. But, I have seen many more hard working journalists. I have also seen how hard it is to write a story about a Presidential race when the two biggest corporations in the world, the Democratic and Republican parties, are seeking to write the story for you.

So tonight, I’m doing penance for living like I’m in college again.

Tomorrow, I’m celebrating my 28th wedding anniversary.

Sunday, caffeine and adrenaline willing, I’ll be on the plane to Minneapolis ready to do my part for the cause.

In the meantime, if you see a journalist, give them a hug and buy them a cup of coffee. They deserve our thanks and all the caffeine they can get.


2 Responses to “Doing Penance”

  1. Sally Wilkins on August 30th, 2008 7:26 am


    glad to see you’ve survived and good to know you’ll be home for the anniversary!!

    The Lord grants you forgiveness and you are absolved. Say three Kyrie eleisons and one Doxology and take a good probiotic!

    And thank you so much for the honest, humorous and profound reflections. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts next week.


  2. Alex Schultheis on August 30th, 2008 3:49 pm

    Hey Professor Kuehne. I think that it’s fair to be critical of journalists, only because I believe that journalists are no longer biased, just like history. History textbooks try to be as objective as possible, but each book determines what is relevant information, and therefore makes its own conclusions, leading to an opinion, which is not objective or unbiased.

    I think that journalists do it to have good sales from their viewers, though there are those who speak their mind, regardless of how many followers of their work that they have. Why else has “The New York Times” been so successful? Because their writing has spin, which makes intellectual thinking more prominent, and its good politics by giving the story some perspective from a particularly partisan POV.

    Just look at how they did not accept the op-ed from McCain on the Iraq War, but have accepted numerous editorials from Senator Obama. I think that you’re forgiven, but you don’t have to be. It’s our job as academic citizens to make sure that the information we obtain is fair to both sides, but in a world of fundamental “This or That,” “Liberal or Conservative,” “My Way or the Highway” mentalities, the independents and moderates lose. So, I guess you and I are almost required to pick a side, even if we hate it. But I certainly do not think that the media is in it to be fair, and some journalists are on board with them.

    I’ll leave you with George Washington: “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.