2006.11.08 There's worse than reporters

Written by David Green.

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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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