Why The Shinbone Star?

During my long and mostly undistinguished career as a newspaper editor, I was sometimes asked about my favorite portrayals of journalists on television or in the movies. Was it Dustin Hoffman or Robert Redford as Woodward and Bernstein in All the President’s Men, or perhaps Edward Asner in the title role for Lou Grant? Nope, Dutton Peabody, editor of the Shinbone Star, gets my vote.

Peabody, played brilliantly by Edmond O’Brien in the 1962 western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, was a newspaperman’s newspaperman, verbose, often drunk, and unafraid in the face of violent opposition.

We could use a few more like Dutton Peabody today, in a world grown increasingly hostile for working journalists, thanks largely to a new president who has labeled the media Public Enemy #1 (although I know a few Mexicans and Muslims who might challenge that ranking).

Then there’s chief propaganda minister Stephen Bannon, who wants all journalists to “shut our mouths,” presumably to allow his “alternate facts” to go unchallenged.

Peabody, center, took a beating at the hands of Liberty Valance, right, who objected to freedom of the press.
Dutton Peabody, second from left, took a beating at the hands of Liberty Valance, right, who objected most strenuously to freedom of the press, just like someone else we know.

Nope, not gonna do it, and that’s why I’ve been recruiting some of the great former journalists I worked with to help me here with The Shinbone Star. All our panties are in such a twist that many of us are coming out of retirement, sorta, to face this new tyrannical threat.  Unlike Bannon, we won’t publish lies here, but we’ll also not be fettered by old-fashioned journalistic traditions like being unbiased.

Unbiased? Look what being unbiased got us!

For 33 years I was unbiased, sacrificing my rights as a U.S. citizen in order to uphold journalistic ideals I felt were sacred. For three decades and change, I did not publicly support ANY candidate. Never once did I put a political sign in my yard, contribute to a political campaign, or even place a bumper sticker on my car. We journalists always knew that fairness was our bread and butter, and by god, we took it seriously.

For what? Readers moved in droves to free internet sites that were openly biased, a huge factor in putting many great journalists on the street. Contrary to popular opinion, journalists, too, gotta eat, and we have families to feed and mortgages to pay. As for journalism, Americans got what they paid for, and the results are as we see them.

Even though I’m no longer in the business, I will always self-identify as a journalist, and I don’t appreciate getting bitch-slapped by the 45th president, being called “dishonest” when I know damn sure that I never was, and the same goes for the hundreds of men and women I worked alongside during all those political campaigns on all those late nights over all those many years.

So everything is different now, and that’s why I relish the chance to say all those things I never dared say before. I can openly support whoever the hell I want, and here’s something else I can do: I can say that Donald Trump and his sorry band of Nazis and KKK sympathizers pose the greatest threat to this nation’s core values since, well, since forever! I’m proud to say that I did not vote for Donald Trump, I will not support Donald Trump, and I will do everything in my power to thwart Donald Trump and his dangerous, racist policies at every turn.

Oh we’re just getting started here at The Shinbone Star, but I hope the pace picks up rapidly as more of my friends and former colleagues enter the fray. Some will write under their own names while others might use a nom de plume, but I don’t care, we’re dropping the gloves, and the traditional rules of unbiased journalism won’t apply here.

While we’re getting organized, I’ll slowly start moving some previously published material from my other blog, Roamin’ Gnomials, to this site. Roamin’ Gnomials, meanwhile, will return to something more in line with its original mission of ridiculousness, which will probably be a happy occasion for some regular readers who have grown weary of all the political content.

In the movies, Dutton Peabody took a savage beating at the hands of Liberty Valance, just like journalists today are taking a beating at the hands of Donald Trump, all for trying to do the right thing. That’s why I’m pretty sure Peabody would approve of what we’re doing here, and give a boozy nod to my closing words for Trump and Bannon: Fuck you!

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21 thoughts on “Why The Shinbone Star?

  1. Thank you for this new path you are taking. I feel lost out here. don’t know how to reach the world and tell them it is NOT all of us. Interesting abt those who have turned to biased sites on internet. So true. Nobody wants to think about differing views. ” Just give me what I want to hear. No time to figure this out. Just tell me.” This has happened in history before, with very bad results. I never expected it would happen again. I’m very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When we examine the history of newspapers it becomes evident that they weren’t unbiased. The founder(s) had a bone to pick and a viewpoint to push. Somehow, ethics reared its ugly head and writers suddenly were supposed to be “fair-minded.” Enough of that shit, balls to the wall. Fry Dickhead Don and his thugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yours is the first blog-post I read after my sort-of sabbatical from blogging. And I’m glad it was the first 🙂
    Congratulations and good luck…
    Also happy about the gnomes returning to their ridiculous shenanigans 🙂 Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful to see my thoughts expressed for all to see
    and so well done. We must get over the shock of what has
    happened to us and overwhelm what Trump has wrought.
    Joan G.K.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stumbled on to this… and will probably stumble back. Tell me, do you have a commitment to correct errant news agencies? I worked for a Public Radio Station twenty years ago that was never even investigated even though the management abused female and “supposed” gay workers to the point of “broadcast eugenics.” Once the Trump mess gets flushed, as a former news broadcaster myself… I’d love to see someone insist that “Community Based Stations” need a compliance officer to watch for breaches of employment, harassment, and other laws, and not just be waived on by community officials who give them a pass because of their “good intentions.” College-sponsored Public Radio Stations get regulated within an inch of their lives… but Community Stations hire bigoted, abusive drunks to “manage” ( I can site several examples) and have no actual commitment to their embattled employees. If you showed an interest in this, I’d commit to you…

    Like

  6. Hooray for open, honest journalism. I am a lifelong friend of one of your reporters, Nathaniel Helms. If all of them are as talented and forthcoming as Nat, The Shinbone Star has a bright future ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much, Mr. Redus! Glad to know that there are those of us to stand up to this clown, and his companions! Love the name of the blog, Mr. Peabody was my favorite character in that movie!!

    Liked by 1 person

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