This is a portion of a news release which was sent Wednesday to WTAP and, no doubt, to other news outlets in West Virginia. It followed the U.S. House vote on the proposed economic stimulus package:
"(Insert City, State)-U.S. Action and (State Affiliate) criticized U.S. Rep. (Insert Congressmember's name) for opposing an economic recovery package aimed at helping states' budgets address budget shortfalls..."
It went on to say: "Americans have experienced significant job loss and loss of health care benefits", said (Affiliate Spokesperson)...that's why we are so disappointed that (Insert Congressmember's name) ignored them and voted against (his or her) constituents' best interests."
Obviously, this message wasn't meant to be sent to the press this way. A "cleaner" message was sent just a few minutes later, naming the intended city of origin (Charleston), the West Virginia group (Citizen Action) and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, who voted against the package along with her fellow Republicans.
But it's likely this message went out to outlets in other states, naming other members of Congress (all Republicans, no doubt) who voted against the package.
How impersonal is this? And do the people who send them take members of the public and the press to be a bunch of fools? I wonder how many outlets ran this (WTAP did not, by the way), thinking this was a specific group criticizing a specific lawmaker?
And just to make it clear, I'm not singling out a specific group or political party. I suspect lots of special-interest groups sympathetic to Republican or conservative groups send these out routinely, speaking out against a lawmaker who didn't vote their way.
It's something for people to think about whenever they read these "direct quotes".
On a different subject, I'd like to think Charlie Fogle, who died in mid-January, would have appreciated the above commentary.
In case you never heard of Charlie, it's safe to say he was "one of a kind". He was a sometime journalist who wrote commentaries for the Marietta Leader during its existence in the early 2000's, but he probably was best known for his "newscasts" on WMOA radio in the late 1980's and early '90s, which more closely resembled commentaries: something like a cross between Paul Harvey and Andy Rooney.
If he covered say, a state politician making a dinner speech in Marietta, as he once told me, he got more of a kick out of interviewing the person who bussed tables rather than the featured speaker.
One of a kind? Someone like Charlie comes along once in a lifetime.