Because I finally finished Man Is Not Alone, I’m adding another book to my currently reading library, and that is The Practice of the Presence of God by brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who worked as a cook at his monastery in Paris. I’m actually picking this one up next at the prompting of a Franciscan brother named Matthew who comes into the hospital on a regular basis, and if he recommends I read something, I dig right in. Never have a met a man before him who, when he speaks to you, just for him to say hello is a blessing, and you leave his presence feeling filled.
(Update: I just finished The Practice of the Presence of God literally in less than an hour’s time. I’m going to go back over it a little more closely and carefully and produce a review for you guys for Tuesday.)
Before I start into my Fear and Loathing post, let me just leave a little disclaimer here that religious texts, particularly Christian ones, are probably going to take up a good bit of my postings as this project goes along. I was a Theological Studies major at Valley Forge Christian College, so, naturally, my focus is going to be on Theology predominantly, and 25% of my library is theology. I do promise to mix things up (I have the other 75%), but just be forewarned that I am a Christian and I do talk about my faith. I won’t try to convert you or tell you you’re a sinner or beat you over the head with my ESV Study Bible; I’d rather be known for pouring blessings and love into your life through this blog than hate and condemnation. As one of my pastor friends has said, “I’d rather be known for what I’m for than for what I’m against.”
So, on to Fear and Loathing… I’m up to February 1971 at this point. So far I’ve read about how quickly Thompson could get caught up in the political scheme, not unlike the NFL, worrying over point spreads and stats and such, and I certainly see that even today. You listen to journalists constantly talking about straw polls and caucuses and trying to speculate as to front runners and all that stuff, and you eventually realize that the whole thing is a circus, a game practically, mostly just to say “I have the best face on TV.” Fortunately for Thompson, it seems, he was able to not get too sucked up into speculating and predicting results and stuck more to reporting on what he got from interviewing the candidates.
Something I do want to touch on is Hunter’s overarching philosophy with journalism, which seems to be dictated by two rules: 1) there is no “off the record,” and 2) there is no “objective journalism.” Throughout the first couple chapters alone, Thompson has no trouble openly mocking candidates for their policies or things that slipped out in conversation over drinks, and reports openly on them. This caused a lot of trouble for him on Capitol Hill; he gained a reputation for repeating EVERYTHING you said without mercy. Frankly, I would think that this would increase not only objectivity in journalism (omission equally contributes to bias as much as what is on paper), but also honesty on the part of the politician. Seriously, if you think in a certain way or act in a way you don’t want the public to know about (or even just your target demographic), to some extent, you may want to consider its ethical implications. If you don’t want the public to know what you’re thinking, you probably shouldn’t be thinking it.
Instead, however, politicians just choose to keep their traps shut and talk only to reporters that won’t smear them in an op-ed piece or a 60 minutes interview. Why risk the election talking to someone you view as a bleeding-heart socialist, or as a hash-addled freak (as Thompson referred to himself on occasion), when you can talk to someone who LIKES you, who thinks you’re the best candidate for the presidency? By catering to candidates, journalists have become weak by allowing candidates an “off-the-record.” I mean, come on, some off-the-record comments are the best to report on! I can guarantee you that, in some eyes, Obama’s approval rating went up when he called Kanye West a “jackass” for acting the way he did at the 2009 VMA’s. It’s also a more honest form of reporting. I’d want to know if a presidential hopeful made some comment about bombing ragheads or taking kickbacks from Haliburton, but an average journalist these days won’t report that. We have some mavericks (Katie Couric really ripped Sarah Palin a new one) and some legends such as Walter Cronkite and photojournalist Robert Capa who showed people “the way it was.” Still, most journalists today don’t want to lose their jobs on Capitol Hill by preventing someone’s senator seat, a reality that Thompson paints clearly in this book. The media wields a powerful weapon in the pen, but even one cut to the wrong man will cost you your career.
Coming up on Wednesday, we’re gonna have a conversation between Chuck Klosterman, Jon Stewart, and Hunter Thompson on objective journalism and political bias. See ya then!