Monday, April 18, 2011
A Day (or Two) in the Life...
Funny that he would forget guys don't like being called names by "brains."
WILLIE.33.1-4. It's not all politics. There are the Phillies, the Flyers, and (belatedly) the Sixers. As most of you know, I listen to SportsTalk in Philadelphia, WIP 610. The morning show is burlesque and better than any combination of late night comedy talk shows. The mid-day show is serious sports, featuring author and columnist Glen Macnow and his sidekick Anthony Gargano. Macnow has an almost poetic love of sports backed by an encyclopedic knowledge of Philadelphia sports history. His voice is somewhere in between professional radio host and intelligent conversationalist, learned but friendly and inviting to callers. I actually did call once, when he was remembering Veterans stadium and the current beauty called Citizens Bank Park. I recalled the baroque urban charm of old Connie Mack stadium as a counterpoint to both newer parks, and in pasing I referenced the poor-fielding homerun hitter named Dick Stewart, whom I'd seen smash a grand slam at Connie Mack just prior to its demolition. Glen was pleased by my reminiscence, one old fan to another, and he challenged me to furnish Stewart's nickname, which I did: Doctor Strangeglove.
All just preface to an odd happenstance late last week. I was listening to the beginning of the mid-day show when Glen Macnow suddenly went off on Donald Trump and the "Birthers," pronouncing Trump the worst man in politics he had ever encountered. He went on to damn in the most pejorative possible terms anyone who had any doubts about the origins of Barack Obama.
It was so out of context, so strident, and so ugly that I actually tried to look up Macnow's email address, which was (strangely) not available at the WIP website. I sent the following to the best email address I could find ( a partial with asterisks blotting out key characters):
I heard your tirade about Trump on the midday show. I carry no brief for Trump, but I have some advice. Stay out of politics. That's not why people listen to SportsTalk. I'm well aware that most sports reporters, particularly those who have worked for papers like the Inquirer, are reflexive lefties. That's fine. Just keep it to yourself. Your audience is far more politically diverse than you suspect -- no doubt part of your blind spot about such matters. Which is part of the point.
I'm not being malicious here. I have enormous regard for your sports knowledge, and I enjoy listening to you. (I've also been an on-air caller.) I have zero regard for your political acumen and, if possible, even less interest in it. I'm not a 'Birther' but when you dismiss them all as hillbillies, I can assure you it does you no good professionally. It certainly makes me think less of you. Questions about the birth certificate may be unfounded, but they are symbolic of the fact that nothing about the president's early life is on the record -- not his SAT scores (we know W's, don't we?), his college and law school grades, the courses he took, or the texts of any theses required for his degrees. And no one has ever turned up any childhood or adolescent friends to provide insight about his formative years. That's what drives the suspicion Trump is cynically exploiting for his own purposes.
A cleverer man would tar Trump without bashing a big chunk of his radio audience. But when it comes to politics, you are not clever. Why, once again, you stay the hell out of it.
Not surprisingly, I got no answer. Therefore (being me) I called the show the next day and spoke with the man who was screening calls.
"What do you want to talk about?" he asked.
"I want to talk about Glen Macnow's tirade about Trump yesterday," I said.
The man on the phone said, "I won't put you on the air about that."
"I'm not planning to be abusive," I explained. "I just want to tell him that he shouldn't be talking politics on the air. That's not why we listen."
He was icy in return. "We're well aware of that here. I'm not putting you on the air because we don't want to perpetuate the issue. Believe me, we know exactly what you're talking about, and we are taking it VERY seriously here."
Oh. I wasn't talking to a clerk screener. I was talking to a producer. Interesting.
"I tried to send him an email," I said. "I just wanted to express my opinion as a disappointed fan, let him know that we don't all automatically agree with his views because he has them."
The man on the line immediately gave me Glen Macnow's correct email address and thanked me for calling. Even more interesting.
So I re-sent my email and got a response from Glen Macnow inside the hour(!?):
Thanks for the note, [wrong name]. I appreciate your input, and it's well taken. Although I'm going to disagree.
I rarely, rarely talk politics. And I don't want to bog down our show with partisan debate in an era when this country is as divided as it is.
But Trump went beyond the breach. His campaign now is not a campaign for president. It's a campaign to gain ratings for his TV show (if you recall, my rant began out of Ant saying he watches the show). What he's doing is nothing more than barking like a seal and trying to attract a crowd. Successfully, by the way.
Anyway, before I became a sportswriter in 1987, I was a political writer for a decade. I covered Reagan's 1984 campaign for a month, and I've interviewed four presidents in my career. At the risk of sounding like a snotty dick (and I know this will come off this way), I won two national awards for political writing back in the day.
It is fair of you to say that's not why you listen. And I respect that. And I rarely get into it, and will aim not to. But I do stand by what I said.
Thanks for the note.
I knew he had been ordered to do what he did, but (being me) I sent him a riposte:
No, you don't sound like a snotty dick. I respect you and your experience.
All I'm saying is that you hurt yourself by ASSUMING that you're smarter than we are. And declaring it on air. I'm a huge fan of yours, loved your smackdown of Eskin at the Great Debate, etc, but I was disappointed when you went off topic.
I'm part of your audience too. Harvard graduate. Management consultant. Writer. Conservative. Love your expertise. Just don't needlessly piss me off.
I don't have much influence. But I have some:
Philadelphia's Big Dope
Thank you for responding. I continue to be a fan. Honestly.
To which I received no reply (obviously).
None of this matters, of course. SportsTalk is merely a vice of mine. I know they're all lefites behind the curtain. I'm slightly embarrassed to have pursued the matter, and I wouldn't have told you about it except that I happened to have a conversation with an old decidedly conservative friend of mine who was unfamiliar with my own key points of concern about Obama's origins because he had stopped paying attention to Obama so long ago. Probably to politics the way it is being played now even longer ago.
He thought it would be worthwhile to reiterate points I made way back when, even at the risk of repeating myself, which for a blog as old as this one, has become a constant fear: Thou shalt not repeat thyself because the bloggerees are so easily and permanently bored by Johnny One-Notes. So here goes, restating the obvious.
I'm pretty sure Obama was born in Hawaii. I don't think that's the secret that caused the Hawaiian state legislature to pass a brand new law barring anyone from getting access to that documentation.
What do I think? There's something on the real birth certificate that's embarrassing. I think citizens who don't have anything to hide are suspicious.
I sympathize. I also respect their native suspicion. They don't necessarily understand that there's something fishy about a president of the United States no one knows thing one about beyond the headlines of his resume. And I can tell you it bothers me a lot that we don't know Obama's SAT scores, his LSAT scores, his grades at Occidental College, Columbia College, and Harvard Law School. That we don't know what courses he took at any of those schools or a word he ever wrote at any of those institutions, including his tenure on the Harvard Law Review. It's all a total blank. We don't even have anyone he admits knowing or conversely anyone who admits knowing him at any of those institutions. He's a cipher.
And he's president of the United States.
It's so easy to look down on the average, the ordinary, the common citizens. As Lincoln pointed out, they can be misled.
But it's also easy to conflate "Birthers" with "Truthers." The demographics are different. Obama supporters -- i.e., Democrats as a whole -- represent a two-humped curve. Think of a Bactrian camel. The first hump, the one toward the head, is the progressive elite. What they know is that they're right, morally superior, and should be in charge of the rest of us, because only they can make things right, and damn any inconvenient facts. The other hump is the vast majority of their followers, all the ones who depend on government to make their lives better and know they're Democrats and nothing else, including who's vice president of the United States, how many senators there are, and where Iraq is on the map.
The "Truthers" are creatures of the second hump.
The "Birthers" are creatures of the upside-down Bell curve between the humps.They're the ones who don't have PhDs or media jobs but work for a living, pay their taxes, and have to go to the DMV. For example, my wife has had to produce seventeen different legal documents, at considerable expense, to prove that she was born in the first place, had her name changed by a first marriage (proof of marriage, proof of divorce), changed again by her marriage to me (proof of marriage, proof of my divorce) -- all so she can have her driver's license reflect her current name. So far, she's made three different trips to the DMV, evenings, weekends, blah blah (they're always polite but final), and is still awaiting approval for a name change nobody involved believes is false. All of which is necessary before she can legally grant me financial authority to look after our dogs if she dies first and validate my will which will leave our joint property to her children and grandchildren.
And our president refuses to release his long-form birth certificate.
But we're the hillbillies and idiots for asking questions.
I'm willing to be a hillbilly about his birth certificate. I want to know how he got into Columbia, what he studied there, and how he he managed to be an editor of the Harvard Law Review without publishing anything.
But then I'm an elitist sonofabitch myself.
Not worthy of a second response from Glen Macnow. You know. He worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer once. Enough said.