- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

March 15, 2016

Lindsay Jones, a reporter covering pro football for USA Today, gets high marks for asking Peyton Manning the question everyone was thinking, but hadn’t worked up the guts to pose themselves.

She asked the future Hall 0f Famer to address an embarrassing allegation from his past that had cropped back up in recent news stories. And she did it as Manning was answering questions from the media just after announcing his retirement from football.

What’s the point?

A journalist respectfully asking a question about a difficult subject to a high-profile public figure? That should be applauded, not criticized.

Manning had a stellar career and remains one of the game’s most popular players. He’s widely respected by fans, who see him as a humble, high-integrity individual in a profession too often tainted by the bad behavior of narcissistic cretins who never learned they had to be accountable for their actions. For most fans, Manning is a hero on and off the field.

Which makes the 20-year-old allegation that he exposed himself to a female trainer for the University of Tennessee athletic department all the more intriguing. That’s not the guy the public knows. And that’s one of the reasons the question should have been asked.

For the record, Manning has denied the incident, which was settled by his alma mater years ago. But it came back up in recent weeks when Tennessee was sued by a number of former students alleging that the school’s athletic department is a hostile work environment for women, that sexual misconduct by players is overlooked and accusers face retribution. The Manning incident is not an allegation in the suit, but is mentioned as possible corroboration of the claims.

Jones, who was covering the Manning retirement announcement and press conference, listened to Manning’s moving and emotional 12-minute farewell speech, duly noted his responses to a handful of “what-are-you-going-to-do-now” questions, and then asked: “What can you say now about those allegations and how this has maybe overtaken the discussion?”

It was a fair, respectfully posed, tough question asked in an open forum. It wasn’t shouted as Manning ran for cover. She didn’t chase him down as he walked along the street. Questions were invited, even encouraged, from the assembled media. It was the first, and perhaps last time anyone might have a chance to pose such a question to Manning since the incident came back up — he’s is about to ride off into the sunset. Jones did what she was supposed to do on behalf of her readers.

Manning answered it as well as could be expected: He again denied the allegation, expressed frustration that his purported actions as a 19-year-old are still being questioned and quoted that famous, fictional Alabama football player, Forrest Gump: “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Jones’ question and Manning’s response broke no new ground. But it gave Manning an opportunity to show what he’s about in tough situations. He clearly anticipated the question and, just like every game day of his career, was ready. What Manning has to say about all this was relevant if not all that enlightening.

Jones didn’t hesitate when she asked the question, though she had to know what was coming her way in short order. People in the room (not other reporters, but Manning’s friends and supporters) rolled their eyes in exasperation. Observers wondered why such a question would be asked on Manning’s “joyous” occasion. The knuckle-draggers and mouth-breathers on social media swarmed like flies to a corpse. Some had the temerity to say that it was bad enough someone asked, but that it was worse because the question came from a woman (as if female reporters lose their press credentials when the subject of sex enters the conversation).

Besides, Peyton Manning got plenty of respect that day, including from Lindsay Jones. He wasn’t the victim of a tragedy being asked how he felt. He’s a multi-millionaire who makes a substantial part of his living due to his reputation as a nice, clean-cut guy. Jones made no accusations, nor did she couch the question in a “gotcha” format. She simply gave Manning the chance to address how his name got involved in a recent, potentially embarrassing news story.

The exchange was professional, civil and short. As it should have been. Both moved on. If only national politics could work this way.


Texarkana Gazette

March 5th, 2016

Sometimes in this new, tech-savvy world, we forget the old life lessons.

You know, the ones handed down from your parents and grandparents. The ones your teachers taught in grade school. The ones that rarely came from books.

After all, the old ways are outdated. We know better now.

And maybe that’s true in some cases. But definitely not all.

In some cases, paying attention to what you’re told might just save your life.

When we were growing up, most of us were told never to get into a car with a stranger.

We were told that early and often. By mom and dad, by teachers, by principals.

And if a stranger tries to force us to get into a vehicle? Run, scream, do whatever to get away. Then tell an adult what happened.

That lesson is still being taught today. We hope every young person hears it and takes it to heart.

Unfortunately, not all do. Children disappear. Sometimes they are found. Sometimes alive. And sometimes their parents are left in a terrible limbo, wondering what happened for the rest of their days.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen recently in Hempstead County. Because a young girl knew what to do.

A 12-year-old girl was walking to school in Blevins. A woman pulled beside her in a red, low-to-the-ground pickup truck and tried to coax the girl to get in.

The young lady said no.

The women kept trying. The girl kept walking.

Eventually the woman in the truck_described as being about 40, white with brown hair and crooked or missing teeth, gave up and drove away.

Good job. The young lady learned the lesson well.

While we don’t want our kids thinking everyone they meet has bad intentions, the dangers are real. They have to know how to handle these situations. How to make the right decision.

The old lesson is timeless. And every child should know it by heart.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

March 14, 2016

With apologies to Joseph Heller

“There were many strange things taking place, but the strangest of all, to Clevinger, was the hatred, the brutal, uncloaked, inexorable hatred of the members of the Action Board . . They would have lynched him if they could.”

-Catch-22, Chapter 8

MAJOR Major_actually Maj. Major Major Major_stared at his shoes while Yossarian explained to Clevinger what they were doing at the rally. The people around him were chanting for the candidate, who was late. He heard some ugly words here and there, but he assumed he misunderstood.

“We’re here because he’s a winner,” Yossarian was saying to Clevinger. “Everybody wants to back a winner.”

“Everybody?” Clevinger wondered. “Then how come everybody isn’t backing him?”

“Because they’re losers.” It was frustrating for Yossarian to have to explain such simple matters to Clevinger. Major Major shuffled his feet, hoping when the candidate showed up to address the crowd, the place didn’t get too noisy.

“We’re here because that man is a winner. He’s always been a winner. Always will be a winner. And he’ll make America win again.”

“So you think he’ll win?”

“He’s got no shot at winning in November.”

Clevinger was confused. As he often was. So he chanced asking Yossarian another question: “If he has no chance of winning, then how is he a winner?”

“He’ll win the nomination,” Yossarian cried. “That’s what we’re talking about. First you have to win the nomination, then you go on to the general election. Where he has no chance.”

“But is the goal to win the nomination?”

“No, you dummy.” Yossarian rolled his eyes. “But first you have to win the nomination, or you don’t get to the general election. Understand?”

“Yes,” Clevinger lied. “So in the end, the winner won’t win.”

“In the end, very likely. That’s what all the polls show. But he’ll win initially. And that’s important or you don’t even go to the general election.”

Clevinger nodded. Major Major shoved his hands in his pockets.

“So how’d he get to be such a winner in so many states?” Clevinger asked.

“Evangelicals helped.”

“So he’s an evangelical?”

“Nope. Wouldn’t know his way around a church. He apparently hasn’t been in one long enough to understand the difference between Second Corinthians and Two Corinthians. But he’s got the evangelical vote wrapped up. Every poll says so, from state to state to state.”


“You’re a windy so-and-so, aren’t you. Think! He’s a winner.”

“Does he win often?” Yossarian asked.

“All the time. Everything he’s ever done. Nobody can find one single instance in which he didn’t win. Except with certain casinos. And steaks. And a university he named after himself. And a mortgage business. And an airline. And a line of vodka. But those aren’t single instances.”

Clevinger thought he was catching on.

“So he insults women, and his popularity grows. He insults veterans, and his popularity grows. He insults the handicapped, and his popularity grows. He has words with the pope, and his popularity grows. Maybe he should insult America in general, you know, maybe democracy and motherhood, too, and wrap this thing up.”

“I told you,” Yossarian said, “he won’t wrap anything up. Except the nomination. And that’ll come soon enough, thank goodness.”

“Then on to the general election!”

“Where he’ll win six states. Maybe even seven.”

“But there are more than six or seven states.”

“I’m not talking about other states,” Yossarian cried. “In the states I’m talking about, he’s a sure winner!”

“I think I’m starting to not understand again.”

“You’ve always not understood. Tell me the last thing you heard that you understood.”

“It was: ‘Tell me the last thing you heard that you understood,’ and you just said that.”

“That’s right.”

Major Major looked around, hoping the crowd wouldn’t get too loud when the candidate finally showed.

CLEVINGER, Yossarian, and Major Major listened to the crowd chanting for the candidate. He was mesmerizing. He was dazzling. He was transfixing. And because his plane was late, he wasn’t there.

“So young people like him because he’s not of their generation.”

“That’s right,” Yossarian confirmed, glad that Clevinger was not not catching on again.

“And evangelicals give him their vote because he doesn’t go to church.”


“And the party against abortion votes for a candidate who has said for a long time that he’s pro-abortion. And the party of free trade tells pollsters they want a candidate who’ll invite trade wars. And the party of small government supports a candidate who is weak on private property rights. And the party that’s rallied around being against socialized medicine all these years might nominate the man who says he’ll take care of everybody’s health care. And the party of low taxes is voting for a man who would raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations. And the party of the Second Amendment backs a man who said in a book that he supported Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban. And the party that supports him for saying he’ll build The Great Wall Of America knows he has used undocumented workers before on his projects.”

“Now you’ve got it!” Yossarian yelled.

“I think I’m crazy,” Clevinger said.

“Crazy people never think that, so you’re saner than anybody here.”

Clevinger looked around and thought Yossarian might be right.

Finally, the candidate was being announced by the announcer. Major Major hoped the crowd wouldn’t get too loud. His hopes were dashed a few seconds later … .

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