You can’t always blame the media

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in recent weeks, claimed that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” bill was overwhelmingly popular with Americans, and then simultaneously also claimed most Americans had no idea what’s in it.

Upset that the package stalled, he questioned how polling could be so wrong.


Has presidential candidate Hillary Clinton taught him nothing?

Sanders pointed out how challenging it is to ask people to have faith in government when they have little understanding of what their government is trying to do.

He went on to indicate that somehow this proves the mainstream media is failing in its job of educating the public.

From where I sit, it’s more likely, at least in most cases, the media does its job, yet too few people read what we generate. Or if they do read it, they choose to disbelieve or even ignore it for any variety of personal reasons.

Here’s a local example.

The tiny little river town of Newton Falls in Trumbull County has become routinely known for many antics and oddities in its local government — often stemming from the constant discord. Many times, that leads to outrageous occurrences in village operations, unprecedented numbers of recall elections and any other frivolity. Last month, an appointed councilman, Brian Kropp, stepped down just three months into his term after refusing to acquiesce to a required drug test. (Incidentally, Kropp’s arrival on council was equally unorthodox. He was appointed in July, unilaterally by the mayor after a squabbling village council was unable after 60 days to agree long enough to make an appointment. And so it goes.) Newsroom lore here tells tales of a comedic, light-hearted but respected longtime Tribune Chronicle reporter, God rest his soul, who once eloquently and very accurately captured the essence of Newton Falls by describing it as a “Sleepy little river town gone fission.”

You get the point.

In last week’s election, Kropp was running for the full term of the seat he held, hoping to fulfill it for the remainder of the term. But after ballots were printed and just weeks before the election, Kropp resigned.

As one might expect, it came with much Newton Falls drama. Second Ward Councilman John Baryak spoke out publicly, saying he even “would get down on my hands and knees to ask him to consider taking the drug test.”

Yeah, really.

The resignation was well covered in the media. The Trumbull County Board of Elections director said Tuesday’s ballots would clearly mark that the candidate had withdrawn. No votes given to him would count.

Yet, come Election Day, 224 voters cast ballots for Kropp. He didn’t win, but he did claim 35 percent of the votes in the two-way race. Why? Either voters REALLY are uninformed. Or they just forgot. Or they simply didn’t care. Or a fourth option might be they did it on purpose to send a clear message that they liked the direction council was going with Kropp on board.

No one knows for sure, but from where I sit, Sen. Sanders, I think this is a very clear indication that even when the media does its job well, the public doesn’t always react the way one logically might expect.

But then, this is America, where choice makes our democracy one so many immigrants desire.

* * *

Here are a few unrelated, quick reminders for readers today:

• Tuesday is the last day to submit your thankful thoughts. We will publish readers’ short “Giving Thanks” submissions for free Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving weekend. If you have a thankful thought to share, we want to hear it. Please email it in about 25 words or fewer to GivingThanks@tribtoday.com, or complete the coupon that’s been running regularly in this newspaper and return it by mail to the address provided.

• If you’re in a bowling league and want us to publish your league results, please email sports@tribtoday.com asking for a bowling league results template. Requesting and following the template will better ensure quicker publication of your team’s scores.


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