Daggers & Icicles

July27/ 2012

He extended his hand more as a reflex action to mine. The temperature in the room dropped at least 20 degrees. Two images came to mind – daggers & icicles. I was taken aback but quickly recovered… But I’m ahead of myself. Yesterday I attended a luncheon held by The Civitas Institute ; aka “a Right-wing think tank”. The guest speaker was The N&O’s award-winning political reporter/columnist Rob Christensen. …….

The Civitas Institute is a political issues organization based in Raleigh. One of several similar organizations funded by the John W. Pope Foundation through John Pope’s son Art Pope. I’m not sure of the definition of “a think tank” but I don’t believe they mind being labeled as one. Their companion organization is the higher profile – John Locke Foundation (JLF).

The JLF (and Mr Pope) are often derided for their political bent (Right-leaning) in McClatchy-run newspapers both editorially and thru “news stories” (wink, wink). It would be fair to say that any reader of The N&O who follows politics would say The N&O is at ideological odds with Art Pope and his various philanthropic ventures.

I am personal friends with Civitas’ Executive Director – Francis DeLuca – and various members of his staff. Of the 80-100 people at yesterday’s luncheon I am personally acquainted with 15-20. Numerous others are regular or occasional visitors to this website. I was among like-minds. It could be assumed that Rob Christensen was less so.

In no way was The Civitas Institute a hostile environment for Rob. Conservatives, despite their characterization by various media outlets including Rob’s, are not hostile by nature. Rob is an annual guest of Civitas. I’m sure he was not at all uncomfortable in the room, nor should he have been. Nor was I.

The program consisted of Rob and Francis DeLuca analyzing recent polling data compiled by Civitas regarding the upcoming election. It was very interesting. Rob’s 30+ years of accumulated expertise in discussing North Carolina’s political scene was evident.

With no prior knowledge of Rob or his employer, one would not have given any thought to Rob’s personal political bent. He did a most fine job explaining the data relative to NC’s historical trends. A brief Q&A following the presentation was not at all confrontational. All in all it was a very nice informative affair. Well done Rob (and Francis)!

I was sitting with a former colleague of Rob’s from The N&O. I asked him to introduce me to Rob after the program. ….Uh oh.

Long time readers of this site, and The N&O’s comment boards, know I have often been critical of Rob’s news reporting and his columns. I nicknamed him RobRielleWho for his part in The N&O being the last media outlet on the planet to report on the John Edwards’ Mess despite Rob being embedded in the campaign.

Point Of Explanation: I don’t take much of anything personally. I, and most of my colleagues who do this including my SaidWHAT?Media partner – BobLee – approach this like Pro Wrestling. Journalism 2012 is “as legitimate as a stripper’s rack”.

Journalism used to be a serious occupation. Now it is 82% tabloid entertainment and 18% blatant info-mercials. The length of Katie Couric’s mini-skirt being more important than anything she might say.

Ron Burgundys and Ted Baxters abound. Print and TV/Radio “journalists” (cough, wink) are marketed as provocative celebrities. The suits that employ them don’t care if you love’em or hate’em so long as you read’em or watch’em. Being objective and factual is nice, but not at the expense of a provocative headline. The suits that run the media outlets are motivated by rating points, circulation numbers and unique visits.

BUT, Rob is “old school”. As a 30-year veteran of ink-stained wretching he probably got in to journalism for all sorts of esoteric reasons. “Saving the world via one’s written word” is serious business for Rob. Rob is a serious kinda guy.

I, on the other hand, am called all sorts of things but “serious” is only used as an adverb to “sick or deranged”.

Has my public feud with Rob increased his public celebrity as well as mine? Every Sherlock Holmes needs a Moriarty. Every Capone needs an Eliot Ness. I argue that I have upped Rob’s public Q Rating. Those who dislike me (yep, there is such a cult out there!) would love Rob because I am critical of his writings. ….. “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” ???

He apparently doesn’t see it that way. Meeting me was not the highlight of his day. (ya reckon?) The afore-mentioned “daggers & icicles” reaction did catch me by surprise but I am nothing if not quick to adjust to a situation. Serious Rob and Not Very Serious AgentPierce did not “bond”.

There was no scene whatsoever. Only the temperature within a six foot circle dropped 20 degrees. I don’t know what Rob was thinking. I knew “I have a column” albeit not quite the one I was expecting.

Rob Christensen is probably a Good Neighbor Sam. Unlike most Democrats, he probably pays taxes. I believe he has a traditional marriage and he may/may not frequent Snoopy’s and Chick-fil-A. I wish him no ill will. I hope he avoids the ever-lurking McClatchy lay-off monster for years to come. I think he is a very partisan liberal “political reporter / columnist”.

As I told Rob, I have shifted my primary flamethrower towards Jim Goodmon from now on. At such time as Jim and I meet (we have several times, but long before he went Limo Liberal Nutzo) that occasion will likely also become a column.

All of Life is Column Fodder & Show Prep.

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