Several years ago, I was doing straight-news reporting on The Sun News business desk, analyzing local, regional and national real estate trends.
I wrote a short piece about the latest housing numbers, just an article about the health of the market. A reader emailed in to the newsroom to chide me for my obvious political bias - even though the story mentioned nothing about politics, or anything close to it.
By reporting those numbers, he said I was trying to slam then President George W. Bush. (I didn’t tell him that I was a Bush voter in 2000.)
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All he could see was that any news that wasn’t absolutely positive was an attempt to slam the president. It’s funny that he never got back to me when the market turned around, was breaking records, really positive news, and I reported that, too. (Of course the market eventually crashed near the end of Bush’s second term, and I was on top of that, too.)
All he could see was what he was determined to see. That happens frequently, which is why a recent email response to my latest column piqued my interest.
I believe it is just the latest example that for some Myrtle Beach area readers, no matter I write, then will believe I have nasty motives. But I could be wrong.
You be the judge.
First, here is the column he was responding to: Sometimes cops get it wrong - or even lie
Here is this reader’s first response (I cleaned up a few misspellings, and the video above is the one he is referring to):
Mr Bailey, I was going to answer your article, "Sometimes Cops Get It Wrong" in today's paper on how you are doing a soft 'get out the vote' campaign for black voters and for your party, the Democrats, and how you disguise it as excessive force or police brutality. Of course, when Republicans do this it is called divisive politics, wedge politics, if you will and clearly not acceptable. However, your column is so undisguised as to what it really is all about, that I would rather send you this Youtube. This video is about ordinary Americans, doing extraordinary things. This is about sacrifice, duty and honor. It is about, as Lincoln the Republican, put it, the last full measure of devotion. And sir, it is not about photo ops or scripted speeches to college kids lacking enough earthly experience to make clear judgments. No Sir, America is not a perfect place and never will be because there is no such place but, sir, the Civil War is over. The 600,000 casualties of that war, Americans all is over. The Reconstruction is over. The military occupation of the South is over. We are one people, all of us lumped together in the late Senator Moynihan's 'Melting Pot' that never quite boils us all down to sameness and never will, just as carrots can never be potatoes, but we are together in the stew never-the-less. The color of the person in the box is unknown, his judgments under the stress of combat is unknown. However, that makes no difference at all. What that person did for you and I is all that matters. Sir, your soft voiced slice and dice, them against us, politics is poison to the pot. Get over it. Instead, you should pray every day that you are blessed to be in this great and wonderful land that is America with a Constitution that allows you to spill your 'disguised' politically charged venom as current events. Cops making bad decisions and then covering them up with lies is not acceptable. We all know that. Presidents making bad decisions and covering them up with lies, well, some of us like you just never seem to find any words for that. Or maybe never even see that. Rhetorically, I wonder why? But that is very sad. Very sad. indeed.
Here is my quick response:
Thanks for the message. But a quick question. If you agree that cops lying and covering things up is unacceptable and shouldn't be tolerated, why do you believe it was wrong for me to write about? Also, your contention that I have political motives for it. A couple weeks ago I praised Rand Paul and said he could attract black voters because of his civil rights votes, but I don't remember you getting in touch saying I was trying to gin up votes for Republicans. Why not?
Because you wrote it three weeks before the election. You wrote it as a political piece, not as news. Sorry I missed your piece on Rand Paul. But then again, you lefties in the press always seem to pick a Republican that you think can lose as a legitimate candidate to praise / support. I did not mention the gentle giant from MO or if I had a son he would look like Trayvon. Maybe I should have. The gentle giant had a history of thuggery and he attacked a lone policeman and tried to get his gun. Trayvon, well when you attack someone, you never know what is going to happen, do you. Both died because of there bad decisions. But cops are held to higher standards and can't make bad decisions, can they?
I find that some of the most impassioned readers, at least the ones who get in touch, frequently do this sort of thing. If I write something negative about the economy while a Republican is in the White House, I’m doing the work of Democrats. If I write about positive news while a Democrat is in office, I’m doing the work of Democrats. If I write something negative about a Republican, I’m doing the work of Democrats. If I write something positive about a Republican candidate, I’m doing the work of Democrats. If I write something negative about a Democrat (something I’ve done plenty of times), I’m doing the work of Democrats. If I’m not touching on politics at all, I’m doing the work of Democrats.
I try to not completely ignore those readers while fully understanding that no matter what I say or write, they will view me through a particular lens. For awhile, that threw me for a loop. Now, it amazes more than disturbs me, which is why I try to focus my words on those who are willing to seriously engage in some way, which is the majority of readers.