Pine Nuts: The past is so unpredictable |

Pine Nuts: The past is so unpredictable

Having spent 20 years in radio news before discovering Mark Twain, I sometimes miss disseminating the news, as opposed to listening to news that has a sulfurous spin.

I’m satisfied in knowing what happened, and have no desire to know why it happened, according to Fred Fishmonger’s wife. As Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.”

The news business has changed but little since Sam Clemens arrived at the Territorial Enterprise in 1862 and was told by editor Joe Goodman, “Sam you have but one responsibility here. Get your facts straight. Then you can distort them as much as you like.”

In Sam’s day our legislators did their drinking, they did their gambling, they did their womanizing, yes. But they did it with the press. Once journalists discovered they could sell their stories to the highest bidder, well, legislators and journalists started drinking at different watering holes.

Throughout the 19th century and most of the 20th century, newsmen and women were regarded as mostly trustworthy and their reporting was regarded as mostly reliable. America trusted Edward R. Murrow: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”

America trusted Walter Cronkite: “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” I suspect Uncle Walter was the last journalist to be regarded as, “the most trusted man in America.”

A recent spoof of a highly controversial United Airlines story falsely credited Uncle Walter: “United Airlines is pleased to announce they are now offering both red-eye and black-eye flights … and that’s the way it is.”

So my question to you might be: Who do you believe is the most trusted man in television news today? Oh, he’s gone? Fired?! But why? Oh, my, I’m sorry I asked … then whom can we trust? Sean Spicer? Spicer, I have to believe is an honest man, he just has a job that sucks, as the vulgar say, and he seems to be best suited to tailoring suits for _____, fill in the blank. We seem to have more billionaires with borders today than doctors without borders. Sad.

Not to change the subject, but how is Donald Trump’s golf game, anyway? One sports reporter I asked was quick to respond: “He’s so far out in the woods he has learned which plants are edible. And he has a tendency to pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.” Personally, I don’t regard that reporter as reliable.

A question to sleep on: If Russia could issue a Mark Twain postage stamp during the height of the cold war, 1960, and the daughter of a Russian nuclear physicist can sing at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City in April of 2017, why can’t our governments show some collegiality? I guess it’s just the general cussedness of governments.

The past is so unpredictable, and the future ain’t what it used to be.

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