Thursday, September 8, 2011

"The Cowboy Way"

There’s a verse from the song, “Pancho and Lefty” (written by Townes Van Zandt) that goes,

Pancho was a bandit boy

His horse was black as polished steel

He wore his gun outside his pants

For all the honest world to feel.

I know a lot about cowboys. Well, not real cowboys. Movie and television cowboys. I know a little about real cowboys, from here and there research. In some ways, they’re surprisingly the same.

Cowboys in movies and television – and many real cowboys, my research suggests – were fundamentally honorable people. They may have been violent – through necessity, or they just liked to be – but, even in their conflicts, they apparently had rules. (Except for the psychopaths, where all bets were off.)

One rule, as the verse from “Pancho and Lefty” suggests, is that it was somehow disreputable to conceal your weapon.

You wore your gun outside your pants.

For all the honest world to feel.

“I’ve got a gun, and here it is.”

That was entirely the “Cowboy Way.”

Concealed weapons were for cardsharps and four-flushers. They hid them up their sleeves. Under their hats. Inside their boot. The intention was to mislead people.

“Look! No gun.”

Not true.

They had a gun.

Just not outside their pants.

A concealed weapon?

In no way, the “Cowboy Way.”

Which brings me to Fox News.

Really?

Yep.

How?

Fox promotes itself as the “Fair and Balanced” news network. But they carry a concealed weapon, which they use, but are unwilling to acknowledge:

A set-in-stone conservative agenda.

Historically in journalism, this was not always the way of things. Earlier on, it was common for news outlets – which, back then, were newspapers – to trumpet their ideological orientations. It was the Jacksonville Republican or the Muncie Post-Democrat. When the Whig Party was around, there was the Knoxville Whig.

These outlets were honest and open about their political leanings. And proud. They shouted their biases from their mastheads, assuring readers,

“If you’re a believer in all things Whig, the Knoxville Whig is the newspaper for you!”

Agree with their positions or not, the papers unashamedly proclaimed their intentions, announcing loudly and proudly exactly where they stood.

Even opponents respect sincere partisans who stake their claims and stand their ground. Supporters like them even more.

I mean, if you were a passionate right-winger, which banner would you rather march behind:

Fair and Balanced”?

Or

“The Proud Voice of American Conservatism”.

It seems to me an honorable Fox News organization would drop the subterfuge, and start wearing its gun outside its pants.

Conservatives love cowboys. And that is definitely the “Cowboy Way.”

I wonder why they don’t do it?

And now, for putting up with that, check out this treat.


4 comments:

Gnasche said...

I think this is just a result of that thing you also know a lot about: ratings.

When Fox News started, it was because they saw a generally Democratic leaning media and wanted to provide a generally Republican leaning outlet.

However, they soon found that Americans LOVE editorials. Don't stick to the facts, give me manipulated details that can help me debate at the water cooler.

Now, all national news outlets give editorialized news. There was a brief period where CNN tried to head back towards straight news-reading, but their ratings plummeted. They were losing to CNN-HLN, their spinoff.

So now all the major players are just giving the viewers what they want - an "authoritative" sermon to support the perspective they already have.

Michael Charters said...

Wow, Earl. I'm not commenting on your main point, just the terrific treat of hearing two of my favorite singers singing a song that's also a beautiful piece of poetry. Thanks for sharing that.

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; they should just juggle their motto to "Fairly Biased" then they'd be telling the truth.

You're right about where they should wear their gun.

-z

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