A news report replaying as I write this tells us that last night at a campaign event U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz was calling for fellow candidate John Fetterman to come out and debate. Actually, Oz was making insinuations and innuendos at a person who was not present. Fetterman, a smart fellow who is not only campaigning but also serving as Lieutenant Governor while additionally recovering from reparative surgery just a couple months ago, does not kowtow nor even bend to Oz’ shoot-at-the-feet demands to perform, nor should he.
John Fetterman’s strong suit is more honest intellectual discussion than putting on a show. He doesn’t always have canned answers, and does much better working to the heart of a question than snapping back with a 30-second response. He can think, he can speak, he can converse, without attacking anyone else, without making allusions or overtures or threats or provocative pronouncements. And this dichotomy points out one large disconnect that is the very poison tearing us apart.
Reporters – each of you! all of you! – please get out there and interview the candidates! Ask your specific questions and report on the discussion that ensues. Use your brains! Don’t wait for the candidates to create a spectacle so you can report on what went on; that’s not a technique that helps us make responsible decisions about elections. This is not a sports contest! This isn’t an event in which two “sides” come together in battle and reporters swarm to report it! Stop publishing what the campaigns put out in their press releases as news, stop telling us who is going where and saying what, and get out there and report!
If Oz doesn’t make himself available to reporters, that would be on him. Grandstanding and calling out invented negatives about Fetterman healing from his recent surgery is not productive. It isn’t even nice, and it certainly shouldn’t be coming from a man of healing.
What the heck is wrong with everyone? This is not campaigning. I hear all sorts of conspiracy theories on the lips of my friends, and they have no facts to back them up. I point out that Mehmet Oz only just moved to Pennsylvania so that he could run for Senate, and I opine that that’s no way to represent a state; the next thing I hear is some made-up untrue “fact” that the Democratic candidate for governor (an unrelated campaign) came from somewhere else (I believe he was raised in Pennsylvania and is raising his kids near where he was raised, has lived here for decades, but that isn’t apropos anything). This sort of information should be easily available in these days of the internet by looking up reports that have been published in reputable news media pursuant to real reporting by real reporters. Instead, we are all sniping at each other, and the news media are facilitating it.
What if no “press” showed up at staged campaign events? What if there were no photo ops? What if we stopped consuming these glorified gossip rags and demanded real reporting? What if reporters stopped “covering” things and did their research and asked the right questions to get useful answers?
Why were Mehmet Oz’ taunts of John Fetterman even published as news?
Meanwhile, what passes for “debate” nowadays isn’t anything like a true debate. What we also need is real discussion from all the candidates for all the offices, not just witnessing how well trained they are to repeat in one minute their over-practiced statements about hot-button issues that get voters to the polls, and not just how good they are at pivoting to the points they want to shout to buy them votes. I don’t want a well-trained Senator. I don’t want a power-hungry showboater, either. I want someone who represents us as fully and as honestly as possible, someone who can help steer us into the future with open ears, open mind, an abundance of intelligence, and good people-sense.
Reporters, please report. And while you’re at it, please ditch the gossip and use your brains.