Thursday, May 24, 2012

Softballs or No Balls?

The Maven listened to the obligatory interview between WOWO 1190 (and now on 92.3FM)'s Charley Butcher and Vi Simpson, Democrat candidate for Indiana Lt. Governor this morning. I say obligatory because WOWO, apparently, feels obliged to offer up the appearance of balance in their programming and to, of course, swat away any pesky tsunamis which might arise at license renewal time.
I like Charley Butcher and have admired his work dating back to the days when he and Tony Richards chased the elusive Maumee River monster on WMEE 97.3 years ago. Ah, those were the days of credible, entertaining radio, but I digress.
Charley's interview with Ms Simpson was organized and polite, but seemed to lack the "edge" one might expect from a host on the City's most politically conservative radio station. Perhaps the addition of the 92.3 FM signal has mellowed that....perhaps not. When Ms Simpson was asked about her thoughts on public education in the state, she spouted the predictable line about robbing money from public education to give "other" obvious reference to vouchers and charter schools. Here was a wide open chance for Charley to ask what "other" areas meant and to pin down Ms Simpson on her, and state Democrats, disdain for the concept. Nope, on to the next question. That's about as hard-hitting as it got. Charley Butcher is a smart guy with a quick wit and broad grasp of the issues. He could have really squeezed some good content from Ms Simpson for Dave Wheaton and Kayla whats-her-name to recycle on subsequent newscasts today. But, that didn't happen. Now, to be fair to Charley, this is usually how candidates for higher public office, high-ranking public officials, rock stars and other noted individuals are treated by all of the media in this town. TV is one of the worst offenders as politicians, business tycoons and other notable personalities are never questioned, or asked to support their positions on pet projects, issues or personal behavior. They are never challenged. Why? Because the media outlets and their personalities do not want to offend these powerful people and lose access to them in the future. It's all about schmoozing the powerful, enhancing their professional images, screwing the audience and committing journalistic fraud.
Remember when Mark Mellinger of Channel 15 moderated the mayoral debates and wouldn't let Tom Henry squirm out of answering a question? You will recall that after three tries, Mr. Mellinger finally got Hizzoner to sheepishly offer a response that marginally satisfied the news anchor's query. That, folks, was the last time anyone in Fort Wayne media ever questioned someone and didn't take no for an answer.
Forget cowbell, we need more Mark.