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Answering pesky critics 

Not to make a habit of it, but let's do one of those columns responding to critics.

A blog commenter asks: Why do I, a confirmed liberal, write frequently of my warm regard for John Boozman without dissecting his doctrinaire conservative views, thus tacitly endorsing him for the U.S. Senate?

1. I am not a confirmed liberal. I'm a liberal-leaner prone to wandering off the reservation. My liberal acquaintances stay mad at me. Some of them are as destructively incendiary, polarizing and unreasonable as those on the extreme right.

2. I have written about what I consider to be a genuine political factor, which is that Boozman, while unimpressive as a speaker or thinker, is an uncommonly decent fellow, transparently so.

3. I'll probably be in the 45 percent that votes for Lincoln. I disagree with Boozman on nearly all issues. Lincoln will better represent my thinking one day if not the next.

Then there is the publisher in Conway who got irked at me.

It was over a column I wrote criticizing newspapers for running that bizarre news release from the University of Central Arkansas. That was the one that said a coach wanted to engage in private family healing over some misdeed not divulged.

This publisher went to his blog to say it was easier to be a columnist writing critiques than to be a front-line newsman negotiating this wild frontier in which the Internet and cable television thrust much more out there for unavoidable public consumption than was the case during my long-ago apprenticeship.

Yes, it's easier to write about a football game than to play or coach in one. But that doesn't change the score.

Anyway, this debacle, for once, wasn't forced by the Internet or cable television. It was a case of a college trying to manipulate the news by putting an apologetic cart before the substantive horse, and being permitted to do so.

Another thing: This argument about having no choice other than to oblige the new age's anything-goes media culture reminds me of our mothers' question about whether we'd jump off the bridge if everyone else did.

Mom was more profound than she knew. Her point was that, of course, we wouldn't jump off the bridge. But the deeper point is that a lot of us would indeed jump, if we were to be left alone on high ground.

More of us need to stay on high ground, where we can fortify each other.

The Conway publisher's blog post also likened me to a guy still playing eight-track tapes.

But technological advancement enhances recorded music. It does not enhance human judgment.

Finally, I'd like to score one for critics who accused me of misrepresenting the role of Fox News in the Shirley Sherrod debacle.

I wrote Sunday that Fox aired repeatedly that out-of-context video snippet first posted by a right-wing blogger.

Fox did that, yes, but mostly after the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had fired Sherrod, precipitously and wimpishly, solely from fear of Fox.

Before her shameful booting, Fox reported on the misleading video snippet both on the air and on its Web site. Blowhard Bill O'Reilly showed and condemned Sherrod's out-of-context words on his show, which was recorded before the firing but did not get telecast until after.

The point remains that Fox disgraces the modern news media by working in concert with irresponsibly partisan right-wingers to advance a political agenda.

On the other hand, I, a designated opinion writer, get in trouble with liberals for being fair to John Boozman.

But I squander my point when I am imprecise on the details.

So I thank the critics, welcomed and valuable all, whether right or wrong.

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