Taking Credit

Governor Nixon loves to trot throughout the state announcing things.  We haven’t studied all of his announcements to see if he actually had anything to do with what is being announced.  But he is continuing the fine old tradition of political figures getting face time in the newspaper and on TV stations and voice time on the radio announcing something and thereby inferring that the political figure doing the announcing should get some credit for the largesse being bestowed upon that community.

Congress(wo)man Blat announces the USDA is giving a $14.98 grant to the Melvin County Silage Association.   Senator Sneeze announces the EPA is giving Left Elbow, Missouri $37.14 to clean up a spot of lead next to the school outhouse.

What wonderful people these are!!  They’re bringing much-needed money to our community for worthwhile projects.  We should vote for them because of all that they’re doing for us.

“Horse Hockey,” as one of Hannibal’s most famous fictional recent residents , Colonel Sherman Potter, might say.

Here at the Missourinet we adopted a policy many years ago that we call “no credit due, no interview.”   Since then, thousands of press releases from the Blats and the Sneezes of their day have come to us and sometimes–especially during campaign years–we get calls from campaign operatives who think it would be really snazzy if we interviewed their candidates about the things the candidates are announcing although they had absolutely nothing to do with arranging whatever gift the government is giving to the good people in the South Ankle Water District.

We sometimes slip.  It’s hard to stay alert during the incessant barrage of political figures who want to be seen in communities as kind and caring benefactors.  But most of the time when a story about a grant or a program rises to the level of news, we cut out the politician and leave in the government agency.

So the next time your congressperson or governorperson trots into your town to announce something that your folks will think is the greatest thing since the invention of the bread-slicer in Chillicothe press them with, “What direct role did you play in getting this money for us?”  The answer is more likely to be a vague mumble than a statement explaining the long hours of personal effort invested in the project.  If that’s the case and you’re a reporter, interview someone from the entity getting the money or someone from the agency that actually is providing it. If you’re a citizen, celebrate with the recipients. Suggest the politician have a cup of coffee or something at a local eatery before heading to the next credit-taking event in the next town.

At least that way, they’ll make a contribution to your town’s economy that they CAN take credit for.

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