A college senior showed up on my doorstop last night. He’d stepped through a time warp from 1983 and asked me if I could sit for a few questions about journalism. I agreed for there was something in the young man’s countenance which seemed agreeable though he was rough hewn and obviously suffered from senioritis. This is a recording of some of his questions and my answers:
Interviewer: Are you comfortable with accolades and accusations Mr. Karem? Some say you’re a good reporter and others say you’re a miserable hack who always makes fun of people who are better than him.
Me: I’ve been me for 56 years. I’m comfortable with where and who I am. Some days you’re going to like me and some days you aren’t. I’m quite okay with it.
Interviewer: You wore a “Fake News” hat in the White House. What’s so funny about that?
Me: If I have to explain it to you then you don’t get it.
Interviewer: Don’t you see how some people will find that incredibly rude?
Me: I’m not responsible for other’s reactions. If you take offense then know I mean none.
Interviewer: Is that all?
Me: Well from me, yes, unless I decide to wear something else in the newsroom that offends you. Or chew gum, or act slovenly or appear unkempt.
Interviewer: Don’t you think you’re overly antagonistic to the president?
Me: No. I’m a counter puncher. You hit me and I hit back. I’m a fighter. That’s what people like most about me.
Interviewer: Is that supposed to be funny?
Me: Well if you have to ask . . .
Interviewer: Fine. Aren’t you going to ever admit you’ve made even one mistake?
Me: I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. In fact most of it was Obama’s and Hillary’s fault. She paid for the opposition research.
Interviewer: Mr. Karem you say the First Amendment is in peril. What can we do about that?
Me: First thing is to stop the bleeding. We are not the enemy of the people. We are – every one of us on the right and the left – we are the people. We are going to make mistakes. We’re going to get things wrong. Some of us are going to show a variety of bias – we’re human. That is no justification for stifling the free flow of information. You can’t filter it. You have to access what is factual and correct for yourself. That’s your responsibility as a consumer. Also the government has to quit taking away the tools which enable us to do the job and then griping about our performance. You bust up media monopolies, reinstitute some semblance of the “Fairness Doctrine”, provide a National Shield law so reporters doing their jobs don’t face jail time when they use confidential sources, and then you’ll see something.
Interviewer: I can’t tell if you’re teasing or serious . . .
Me: Try to keep up Newbie.
Interviewer: What’s the biggest problem in the media today?
Me: Easy. Lack of institutional knowledge and individual courage. A nice shot of Wild Turkey over ice would help everyone.
Interviewer: Why do you gig the president?
Me: Why do you swat flies?
Interviewer: Are you comparing. . . ? Never mind. Do you really think the president will sit down and do an interview with someone like you? I saw you recently tweeted that challenge.
Me: Well, why not me? I’m breathing. I’m sentient.
Interviewer: Well, he has done interviews with Lester Holt, Lou Dobbs, Mike Huckabee, those people are far more important than you. You have to admit.
Me: I admit nothing. The word is "Deny". Even if there’s photographic evidence of me throwing towels or a small crowd size, or me making fun of handicapped reporters. It isn’t true. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? Fake News.
Interviewer: Well that answers that one. Do you think the president is ever right?
Me: Of course. As the saying goes even a broke clock is right twice a day. But, the clock is still broken.
Interviewer: You know a lot of Americans think he was right about taking a knee during NFL games.
Me: A lot of people believe Aliens were responsible for the plague.
Interviewer: But it’s wrong!
Me: I agree. Fleas carried on the backs of rats were responsible for the bubonic plague.
Interviewer: I mean taking a knee.
Me: The issue was never about disrespecting the flag. It was about protesting police brutality.
Interviewer: You don’t have a problem with people taking a knee during the National Anthem?
Me: Only if they’re taking a knee on my throat.
Interviewer: Do you think journalism will survive the next 20 years?
Me: I don't know if it'll survive this interview.
Interviewer: I don’t know what else to ask you at this point. Tell me at least you like Ronald Reagan.
Me: I don’t even like his movies. Well, except for “Bedtime for Bonzo.” It certainly doesn’t seem strange to me that a president could’ve starred in a movie by that name – after all now we have his “Apprentice.”
At that point the interviewer disappeared into a haze of smoke.
I have no idea who he was or where he came from. I’m just glad I recorded the conversation in case it ever comes up in a court of law.