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The Tentacle

January 2, 2018

Can we all be nice? No!

Harry M. Covert

Here we go. No more promises, or pontifications, resolving to do better in this and that. For the next 363 days the outlook is magnificent. Can we just be nice.


This all sounds good. I suspect all the happy talk will be subdued and the disagree-ers will continue their indefatigable bombasts.


Forgive me, please, all of you sweet people. I can remind everyone, no matter how you cut it, good news honestly and truly isn’t good news.


Feel good stories are wonderful. Our human nature isn’t always so good.


What headlines get the most attention and comments? I’m not being sarcastic here, but maybe more than a bit cynical.


News reporters, editors and readers, too, are excited and emboldened by murders and razor parties as described by Baltimore’s sage. Just read his books. His initials are HLM and fun to read and reread often these days.


On this Second Day of the New Year, the verbal calisthenics will get under way. We have to inflame the public. That’s how advertising and subscriptions are generated.


Besides, it’s fun. Let’s know, is it more titillating to read of the criminal activities of unknowns, or the shenanigans of so-called celebrated persons.


I’m of the latter style, and I’m not apologizing after all these years in the public discourse. Plus, the enemy in all of us humans love to chuckle at the sins and shortcomings of others and not ourselves.


People watching is especially enjoyable. We all are excited by incredible successes of personages. We’re even sassier when personal failings involve them. How fast we all ignore facts that there is redemption for all kinds of failures.


Public awareness can be devastating. Few recall the admonition, “confess your sins to God and He’ll forgive and forget. Confess your sins to a man or woman and they may forgive but they’ll tell everybody.”


The scions of the public prints, however, have a tough job. How to report and inform readers? Just report and let the consumers make up their own minds. That’s too easy.


All this sounds sweet and nice and kind. It’s not always so. In all likelihood, it will never happen through the rest of 2018 or our lifetimes.


I can’t help it. I like to hear the stories. Truth, Justice and the American way. How great is that no matter how each and every individual hears it?


Since the days of first reading our scholastic newspaper in the fifth grade, Weekly Reader, I’ve been enthralled with the news.


All this blabber about fake news, which has permeated the modern vernacular, has upended the free exercise of reportage. It keeps us racing to the phones, to contacts, to editors and readers. This isn’t eloquent. I can say it’s fun even when analysts get in the way of good stories.


Agatha Christie said in one of her great tales, “old sins cast long shadows.”


That old Virginia alleged reprobate, Thomas Jefferson – the two-dollar bill man from Monticello – said “he’d rather have a free press and no government than a government and no free press.”


A humorist once wrote that presidents should be allowed to hang at least one opponent after the election. President Herbert Hoover said he could consider several for the honor.


Over the course of the remaining days of 2018, imagine the list that President Donald Trump would have in mind?


Ain’t news wonderful? Of course it is. Just tell the stories and have fun. The pictures of commentators in the neck stretching? Present company excepted, of course, but it would be thrilling. Do you have a list of the recipients? We all do. Let me have them, please.


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