Author’s note: I was so busy staring directly at the sun this week I did not have time to write a new column. Please enjoy this slightly updated work from a few years back.
At a closed-door meeting of journalists where we discussed such things as the truth behind alien abductions, who really killed Kennedy and the government's secret cloning project involving super intelligent monkeys -- you know, the stuff we’ve been covering up for years -- a spirited political debate erupted.
Since I was plotting my strategy to snatch the last chocolate doughnut from an unsuspecting counterpart, I can't recall the discussion word for word, but I will try to recreate it to the best of my ability.
Journalist Number One: “I think the president is a real pinhead, don't you?” Journalist Number Two: “No, I think the president’s head is in exact proportion to his body, therefore he is fully qualified to be president.”
Journalist Number Three: “Hey, who stole my chocolate doughnut?”
Me: “I think it was one of those super intelligent monkey clones.”
The conversation was a real eye-opener, much like the eight cups of coffee I had before the meeting to guarantee that I would not doze off in the middle of a boring monologue by someone with had the authority to fire me. It was at that very moment, as I looked around the room at my esteemed colleagues, that I realized the problem with today's journalists -- none of them wear hats.
Yes, my mind had wondered just a bit. Earlier in the week, I had absorbed nearly an entire day's worth of 1930s newspaper-themed films on Turner Classic Movies.
All the ‘30s newspapermen -- they weren't called "journalists" and the shockingly few newspaper women were known simply as “Toots” -- wore hats, which they tugged low over one eye when they barked, "Get me the mayor on the horn!" or tipped back at a jaunty angle when they sidled up to the bar and said, "Scotch on the rocks, and one for the dame with the gams up to here."
In addition to the hats, alcohol abuse and blatant sexism, most of the movies had a common plot: The cynical, sarcastic newspaperman works to uncover big-city corruption while wooing a woman who is at first repulsed by him.
The typical movie, let's called it "Deadline for Death" presented by RKO Pictures in cooperation with Blind Horse Scotch and the Stillson Hat Co. of St. Louis, would include a scene like this:
Editor: “Ace, what do you have on the mayor's ties to bootleg hooch?
Ace: “I'm working on it, chief. Right now, I'm getting along just peachy with the mayor's daughter, although she at first found me repulsive. You know, chief, that dame has gams up to here.”
Editor: “Hey, which one of you mugs ate my chocolate doughnut?”
Ace: “I think it was those super intelligent monkey clones. Those apes had gams up to here, I tell ya.”
I believe the public, at least those members of the public who spend much of their time locked in their homes with tin foil over the windows watching 80-year-old movies and muttering to themselves about the dangers of monkey clones, believe real journalists should wear hats, drink scotch and be repulsive to dames with gams up to here or there, depending on where they are standing.
That is why public opinion polls on the trustworthiness of the media are so low. It's the fault of the bareheaded, sometimes sober, only semi-repulsive newspapermen.
My suggestions for the next meeting of journalists I attend – if after this I am allowed to attend any more meetings -- include more hats, gallons of bootleg hooch and an extra box of chocolate doughnuts.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.