The Trend Towards Candor (8/2/99)

Just an observation for no particular reason: There is a growing trend in this country, and not necessarily a bad one, for the public to choose blatant candor over a "smooth" presentation.

Here's an example.

In the Old School is the stoic news anchorman who refuses to be flustered even if there is a technical meltdown all around him. After "throwing it" to Christiane Amanpour in Kosovo, CNN's Bernard Shaw realizes there is no audio being transmitted from overseas. Shaw, now coming back into view and acting as if this is the equivalent of loosing a pair of socks, utters a phrase like "We are obviously experiencing satellite difficulties but once we reestablish contact, we'll bring you Christiane's report in full." 

Contrast this with the highly successful KTCK radio station in Dallas. In an attempt to re-write all the rules, the station makes a habit of treating technical foul ups in an honest manner. For example, a six month old commercial plays instead of a live traffic report and you hear "What the heck was that?" from the radio host. The board operator will then turn his microphone on, sometimes laughs, and says "I thought I had traffic ready but something else started playing instead, and I kinda panicked in here." Everyone laughs and the show goes on. The station has even gone so far as to have a sound bite ready for play at the first sign of any mistake which simply states "The wheels are off".

The news anchorman might be more professional, but I appreciate it when people act like people. Quite frankly, I'd like to know what Bernard Shaw said to the control room after someone forgot to check the audio connection.

Former Baylor football coach Dave Roberts caught on to the trend last year when he proclaimed "We're the worst team in America". His bosses may not have appreciated it (I said former coach), but the fans did. At least we weren't treated to the standard line of  "The team showed a lot of character today".

Current Dallas Cowboys coach Chan Gailey, in addition to be the most boring man on the face of this earth, subscribes to the Old School of public spin. Three days ago he stated in a news conference that the defensive line was "fine". Two days ago the Cowboys, in their own state of panic, scramble and sign troubled defensive lineman Alonso Spellman.  What would have been the harm in saying that "We're a little thin on talent on defense"? Would the world have collapsed by stating something that every football fan knows.

Another example on Gailey: After the season ended last year, he told KLIF's Norm Hitzges that he couldn't really state what the major weaknesses of his team were until he reviewed the season and the video tapes. What a bunch of bull. He has a full time job as coach of the Dallas Cowboys and he can't tell us what the weaknesses are? This week, while doing another radio show, Gailey had a chance to redeem himself when asked what areas he hoped would be improved from last year. "I'm not going to comment on that," Gailey said.  "Stating the areas that we need to improve is just making excuses for last year and I'm not a person to make excuses".  That being said, I may not know anything about the weak areas of the Cowboys, but I do know that you can't believe anything Gailey tells you about the Cowboys.

In politics, Jesse Ventura is part of the new school with a "I call 'em like I see 'em" platform. Minnesota fell in love with him, and when you watch him on TV he's hard to dislike.  TV show Politically Incorrect has a format involving no script at all.  And on some shows, why are the "real" out takes better than the show itself.

Like I said, this is just an observation. In the end, more candor in political races would be the the most important area for the trend to infiltrate. Until then, we're stuck with "new visions", "a clean fresh approach", and thousands of other catch phrases.

Barry Green is the District Attorney for the 271st Judicial District.

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