Gotcha first

I found myself agreeing with Scott Walker for the first time in a long time about a week or two ago. Normally that would scare me, but to be fair, I came to this conclusion on my own and first.

Walker had been in New York, courting the super-rich in hopes of being our dumbest president ever, when Rudy Giuliani decided to tell the world what every half-wit drunk uncle says at Thanksgiving: Obama hates America and he’s probably not a Christian.

Giuliani deserved the shitstorm that came his way, but for utterly predictable reasons, the media ran to Walker and asked him to comment on the country-based love and Christian-based faith of our Kenyan leader. Walker called this out as a distraction and a typical media “gotcha” question. He dodged and left, forcing his staff to clean up after him and allowing media people to talk about media stuff for about the next 48 hours.

Walker deserves a ton of crap, I thought, but he was right about this. Who gives a shit what he thinks about Obama’s love of country? I thought back to the “Did you smoke marijuana?” questions of the 1992 race or the “Would you let your sister marry one?” –stylings of every “family values” argument we seemed to have in the decade after that. These things are stupid, petty and contribute about as much to understanding the value of a candidate as the “boxers or briefs?” question.

Why not ask his plan to stop Kanye West from interrupting every awards show we seem to be having these days?

Gotcha questions, loaded questions, biased questions and any other kind of question an agitating seventh-grader would ask to start a fight are an unfortunate stock and trade within the media. Conflict is a primary news value and if the people aren’t willing to start conflict themselves, well, shit, just shake the jar a bit and let’s see if the bees fight then.

This isn’t good journalism, although it’s worth mentioning how few people seem to want good journalism these days. If the “Real Housewives” movement is any indication, we’d be better off giving our presidential candidates glasses of wine to throw at each other while screaming “BITCH” rather than a series of debates.

However, the week that followed helped me remember why pitying Governor Deadeyes is like nursing a viper back to health. First chance he gets, he’s springing into action and biting you hard.

In the time since being “distracted” by the “gotcha” question, he has flip-flopped on his view about being a right-to-work state, saying now that he will sign a bill that the state legislature has rammed through, in spite of protests. He also changed his mind on immigration reform.

He came out of left field with his position on supporting a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks and said he would approve a law that allows for the waiver of a 48-hour waiting period before the purchase of a handgun.

Even looking back on his “signature accomplishment” (Act 10), we also find that there was no indication he’d pull that club out of the bag the first chance he got. He never campaigned on it nor did he make a big deal about it just after getting into office. Then, bam, goodbye unions.

Even though I hate the question about Obama’s willingness turn on some Al Green and pour the Courvoisier as he expresses his full love of our country, I can understand why people are asking all sorts of odd-ball questions of this Republican front-runner. He never tells us upfront what he will do or won’t do. Instead, he basically sets the can of peanut brittle near us and waits for the right time to make us open it and release the springy snakes.

So, yes, please, ask all the questions of Scott Walker you want. (OK, don’t ask him boxers or briefs because I think I would fear my underwear drawer if I knew. I might also throw up if he said man-gerie.)

Ask him if he voted for Truman.

Ask him if the ghost of Elvis visits him and tells him how to vote.

Ask him if he’s really that kid from “Deliverance.”

He’ll lie like hell, but at least we’ll know before the mouthbreathers of this country elect him president.

It’s only fair. After all, he “gotcha” first.

3 thoughts on “Gotcha first

  1. gratuitous says:

    I fear the silly season questions will be with us always. Reporters get bored following a candidate around, and sooner or later we get nonsense.

    However, it might be real good if a few editorial departments or a couple of Sunday talk show producers, when they’re contemplating chatting with Walker, did a little digging into his record and asked him some pointed questions about the differences between the issues of his campaigns and the actual legislation he signed into law. Questions about abortion or unions should be asked and not let go until an answer is given. Then a comparison made between the answer and the actual record.

    Commit some actual journalism for a change.

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  2. Robert Earle says:

    Giuliani made his first round of idiotic comments at a Walker fund-raising event. Asking Walker about things said at a Walker event, is not ‘gotcha” it is ‘reporting’.

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    • docphd says:

      And I’d agree if the question was “Do you stand behind/support/like/retweet Giuliani’s comments?” The question wasn’t that (which it should have been) but rather what Walker thought about the concept itself, which has the ability to be taken out of context later.

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