2006.11.08 There's worse than reporters

Written by David Green.


My name is David Green and I approve of this column.

Aren’t you tired of hearing that phrase–or at least a common variant uttered by politician after politician? They should be ashamed to approve some of the drivel known as political advertising. There’s nothing like a politician to make a person really hate politics.

Fortunately, I have some excellent news to report regarding politicians. Good for me, that is.

A recent survey of potential Michigan voters found that journalists are not as mistrusted as politicians. Our respectability rating is apparently on the rise—or perhaps the politicians are sinking deeper into the muck.

The study conducted last month asked Michigan citizens to rate six typically mistrusted professions. Journalist ranked down in fifth place, I’m sort of pleased to say.

I mean it’s embarrassing enough to be listed among the dirty six, but at least we’re nearly the cleanest of the dirt.

This was the question: “In your opinion, of the following professions, whom are you least likely to trust?”

Hold on a minute. Whom are you least likely to trust? A profession isn’t a whom.  The question should be “which are you least likely to trust?” It takes a journalist to get these things right. Trust me on that.

Here’s how it came out: About 35 percent of those interviewed said they were least likely to trust politicians. Thirty-five percent! It’s dirty work our politicians do.

The remainder of the untrustworthy six came out in this order: oil company executives, 17 percent; used car salesmen, 14 percent; lawyers, 11 percent; news reporters, 10 percent; and mechanics, nine percent.

So mechanics make the list. I suppose this is because of the number of people who take their car in to repair problem X and then learn about problems Y and Z, as though the mechanic might have created the other two problems in order to make his boat payment, as the guys on Car Talk would say.

Lawyers. Now that’s a tough profession. You have a client whom you know is guilty but you have to prove that he’s innocent. So when can you ever trust a lawyer?

Used car salesmen traditionally make an appearance on these lists. Maybe it’s deserved, but from my days of selling advertising, used car salesmen were among my favorite people. And I bought some good cars from them.

I’m surprised to see oil company executives on the list, not that they might not be deserving. I’m just wondering if they’ve always been there, or whether their inclusion arrived with the rise of gasoline prices, along with all the news reports about record-breaking profits.

Exxon and Shell were both reporting a gain of more than 30 percent a year ago—the third highest in company history for Exxon. ConocoPhilips was up 51 percent. And you know about the increase in the price at the pump.

I’m not suggesting there’s any connection between the two. I’m sure the oil company executives had an explanation, one that helped boost them into second place in the mistrust standings. Those explanations are the sort of thing journalists explore.

And then come the politicians. Randy “Duke” Cunningham: accepting $2.4 million in bribes. Bob Ney: accepting bribes and lying. William Jefferson: bribes and wire fraud. Tom DeLay: money laundering, conspiracy.

Curt Weldon: under investigation. Ted Stevens: under investigation.

And so it goes. That’s certainly no exhaustive list. There’s someone new every couple of weeks, it seems, and the list of crooks associated with the politicians is much longer.

It doesn’t help that President Bush has such an amazingly low approval rating and Vice President Cheney an even lower standing.

The survey found that Democrats are a little more trusting of politicians than Republicans, and Republicans have a very strong distrust for reporters.

It’s probably all a cycle. Eventually the Democrats will be in charge and they’ll start taking the bribes and then they’ll really hate those probing journalists.

I guess there’s no way out for us newspaper guys. We’ll always remain on the list. Trust me on that one, too.

    - Nov. 8, 2006 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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