I write this as a friendly critique, honest, and hoping to fuel progress. This isn’t run-o-the-mill disrespect from a dissident. Your hunger for the story is as enticing as your delivery of it. Even when I disagree with your conclusions, I’d rather watch you than a yawn-time anchor.
To the sword, I think you could have done better at times. Among the many more you probably list for yourself, two particular examples stand out for me.
1. Kimberly Davis, County Clerk, Rowan County, Kentucky
The real story was not about Kimberly or about homosexuality, but what happens shortly after someone has a “come to Jesus moment”. The word on the street is that she recently had such a moment. It is very difficult to confirm without either a regular blog form Kimberly herself or without a sit-down with both Kimberly and her close Christian associates. But, let’s run with this version for the sake of analysis.
When someone first becomes a Christian—or first becomes serious as a Christian—they go through a kind of “adolescent conscience” stage. They feel zeal. They get imbalanced about which rights and wrongs to zealous about. They get militant and seek to use any and all levers at their disposal to impose their immediately-focused morals on others. They use their positions of power, often out of place and even in ways Jesus would not support, even if the moral cause itself is worthy. And, for Kimberly, morals about sexuality were probably high on her mind.
She wasn’t a saint. She knew that. She knew that about everyone. She just wanted to do what she thought would help other people live with fewer of the regrets she had. She was probably following the advice of the Christians right around her. They were probably giving her ideas about integrity and honesty as an individual rather than an elected official—since most conscientious Christians rarely find themselves in higher positions of power where thy must govern people who disagree with them. She saw her position through the eyes of an individual rather than a county clerk giving justice to dissidents.
A simple, “Jesus loves, so do I. I’m approving your license, even though I disapprove of your morals. Here you go,” might have done a lot more to gain sympathy for her cause and done a lot less to divide the nation.
I know her situation because I was once such a Christian. Her story makes sense to me much how your own history told you that New Orleans would flood before it was “reportable news”. I can’t confirm her story, but I would know what questions to ask—what questions would need to be asked to justify a fully investigated story about the Rowan County Clerk.
Perhaps you didn’t know. The truth about the real Jesus, and the truth about adolescent consciences of most Christians, are the two best-kept secrets of Sunday morning attendees—especially to the attendees themselves.
I’d also add that Constitutional questions about jurisdiction would also have been interesting. Were a County Clerk taking bribe money or using her power to cover-up murder, a federal judge’s detention might have been unquestioned. But, exploiting her power in moral decisions might be a debated line. The judge might have been just as out of line as she was. I frankly don’t know. I would have been very interested to see that debated and explored by Shep and no one else.
Because of Kimberly and the federal judge working in concert, the issue was highly politicized. The national rift grew further. And, no progress was made for any political cause. Both sides had their heroes. I didn’t see either side calling their hero to behave in good form.
In painful honesty, IMHO, I think you let your personal feelings drive you to print boilerplate. Whether your opinion is right or wrong, you didn’t tell us why. You didn’t get that far. Coming from you, it was the exception and not the rule, rare-form Shep. And yet, it proves you’re human. I do the same thing, feelings to boilerplate. You keep me on my toes with that, thankfully. It’s why I like to hear you disagree with me on TV. I’m just returning the favor.
2. Trump turning points
I predicted Trump would win back in February, on Instagram with a map. It was close, but not perfect. The States where I was wrong proves that I was thinking, except with Nevada and New Mexico which I still smack myself for. (But, I was so convinced Michigan would go blue and yet so sure from my gut and the rolling hills that Trump would win, I had to make my math work.)
Christ Wallace, by contrast, was taken by surprise on election night.
All I want to respectfully say is this: Chris is a politics guy and he got it all wrong. You were never a politics guy; you’re a news guy. You have a well-trained gut instinct on many issues, but politics aren’t among them. When you do your reports, call Chris and the gang, but also call a Coulter or a Limbaugh or anyone who has proven to be right about predictions with Trump.
It’s not about liking or hating Trump, it’s not about agreeing with Ann or Rush; it’s about good stories including the opinions of people who have proven to be right about the topic—not exclusively those people, but also those people. Next time Trump says something crazy—arguably every day—get Rush or Ann on the phone, at least for 2 minutes. You’ll have lots of fun with that.
That’s that worst I have to say about you for now. Beyond that, I’d rather hear you report what time it is than most other “snories” and bore sessions, whether you take issue with the clock’s political views, whether you agree with them, or whether you’re just reporting the time because, sometimes, the time of day is the most interesting thing to report.