Tweeter-in-chief, President Donald J. Trump, has been quite clear in his opinion of CNN, the cable television news network. Indeed, Trump’s despise of the network — he thinks its initials stand for Certainly Not News — encourages supporters to use “CNN” as a slander.
For example, when a reader of this weekly effort sends an email that includes the sentence “I think your views and the way you wrote [them] up was as good of a job as a typical CNN reporter,” it’s not meant as a compliment.
The key reason for my inability to be better than the network that invented 24-hour cable news, according to emailer “Josh” is simple: “You didn’t show both sides of the story…”
I didn’t present both sides of the story you didn’t like for two reasons. First, only sourced, verifiable facts are offered as supporting evidence on any topic I write about. The Trump administration, purveyors of over 7,000 provably misleading or flat-out wrong “alternative facts,” are not known to follow the same guideline.
Secondly, this is an opinion column. By definition, that means it contains, well, you know, opinions. If you want “fair and balanced,” I suggest you turn to the only news channel to promote itself as such.
Yes, that one.
Josh wasn’t the only reader who didn’t like my facts-based views of White House ag and trade policies. Melissa, from a “Texas cattle ranch,” wants no more “anti-Trump” columns. “The Americans that elected him want America run for Americans.”
Moreover, she adds, “He’s not a politician and does not act like one. He’s a populist.”
Fred from Ohio echoes Melissa. “With President Trump you basically get what you voted for,” he wrote, “… a booming economy, record low unemployment, and a mindset change from globalist to make America great again.”
Another staunch Trump supporter took a slightly softer, but still full swing, at me: “Think you are pretty hard on Trump,” wrote Jim. “Things are looking better… we have to do something or there will be nothing left.” Anyway, he added, “Thanks for your time; we need new and all ideas.”
Jim is right. If 2018 taught us anything, it surely taught us that this nation of diverse people and diverse politics desperately needs “new and all ideas” because the old, narrow ones we currently operate under have brought stumbles, stalemate, and disgrace. It will be worse in the year ahead unless we do better. All of us, all sides, everyone.
Not all letters arrived dipped in hemlock. Most were filled with compliments, kindness, and personal stories that warmly connected the writers to what I had written. For example, an August column that described my dairy farmer father as a steady man of measured steps brought a waterfall of heartfelt letters and emails.
The column was “masterful and moving,” noted Ken from Indiana. Sadie from Illinois wrote to say the story “touched a place in my heart.” Bill from Ohio emailed to say that after reading the column, “I wept.”
An October column that quoted Aldo Leopold’s famous “February” essay caused Ed to explain how he has “gone to it many times hoping to carry it in my mind.” What a lovely idea, Ed; I hope it’s there now.
Someone named Harry — from where he didn’t say — sent an email on Oct. 20 that, in its entirety, read: “Amen to your columns. Climate change piece today was outstanding journalism. Wish I could buy you a beer.”
Well, amen to you, too, Harry. Email me your city and state so the next time I get within, say, 100 miles, I can make both our wishes come true.
Until then, Happy New Year and keep those notes and emails coming. I’ll keep my, er, unbalanced columns flowing the other way.