Please enjoy this lightly edited column from 20 or so years ago, when I was fresh(er)-faced journalist with dreams of grandeur and not a grizzled veteran who needs to dredge up old material and rework it every once in a while to meet his contractual obligations. I’ll be back next week with something new, if the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise.
I’m not a partisan political operative, but I play one on TV.
I tried to stay blissfully ignorant of politics this election year, jumping into the muck only when I’m forced to as part of my job. So I was shocked when a newspaper colleague informed me I play a pivotal role in a TV ad in a particularly heated race.
“I saw your endorsement of that lying sack of weasel snot on TV last night,” he said, using the candidate’s actual name, which to me is interchangeable with the more colorful “lying sack of weasel snot.”
I looked at him quizzically.
“You shouldn’t take a double dose of cough medicine before going to bed,” I said. “You’ll keep having those crazy dreams.”
But my colleague insisted the ad was not a figment of his fevered brain. Several other people swore they, too, saw it during a break in a late night TV talk show.
The ad, I was told, featured clips of favorable newspaper coverage the politician had received over the past couple of years.
I imagined, because I had yet to see the commercial, that the headlines might say something like “Lying Sack of Weasel Snot Favors Tax Cuts,” “Lying Sack of Weasel Snot Rescues Puppy from Burning Building,” or “Lying Sack of Weasel Snot Killed Him a B’ar When He Was Only Three,” the last one for folksy appeal or as a nod to Second Amendment voters.
Near the end of the commercial, my cough medicine-guzzling colleague said, an article from our newspaper appeared on screen. The story was about the politician’s alleged efforts to get a gate and lights at a dangerous train crossing. The writer’s name — one Scott Hollifield — was clearly visible, my colleague said.
“They can’t do this!” I screamed. “That makes me look like a lying sack of weasel snot supporter. The people who read my work — and it may be in double digits by now — will think I have compromised by journalistic integrity by aligning myself with this politician or any politician. And worst of all, I’m NOT MAKING ANY MONEY OFF THIS!”
For the record, neither I nor the group to which I belong, the powerful United Federation of Smart-Aleck Small-Town Journalists, have endorsed any candidate in any race anywhere.
But, since I have now been dragged into the political arena against my will, I would like to announce that, for the right price, I will leave the honest world of journalism and become a ruthless media spin doctor specializing in negative campaigns. Here’s a sample commercial I’ve written for a fictional candidate:
Hello, good Americans, I’m the honorable Dewey Cheatall, candidate for Senate, and this is my lovely wife Bernice, my son Dewey Jr. and Olga, a Romanian orphan we adopted just prior to my announcement that I would run for Senate this year.
Though not publicly a communist, my opponent, Barbara Tayler-Spitz, a woman of the female persuasion, has some strange ideas that I believe any right-thinking American like yourself will surely hate.
While it is true I was unjustly indicted several times during my previous career as an importer-exporter of exotic animals, I continue to stand firmly against higher taxes and flag burning while my opponent, Comrade Barbara Taylor-Spitz, that woman running against me, wants to spend YOUR tax money on unwed pregnant illegal aliens (the space kind) once she and her cronies impose Sharia law.
I’m a lying sack of weasel snot and I approve this message.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist.