Last night NPR called me a “low knowledge” voter. They might as well have used the word “stupid” or “unintelligent”. The commentators were reviewing Paul Ryan’s speech, and reviewing the many “falsehoods” it contained. NPR pointed out that he criticized President Obama for inaction on the Bowles/Simpson commission report. Fox News had interviewed Ryan who said he voted against Bowles Simpson because it didn’t address entitlements. NPR also pointed out that Ryan criticized the closing of a plant in Janesville, WI and blamed Mr. Obama, even though the plant had closed under President Bush. Ryan in his interview on Fox acknowledged the closing under Bush, but said candidate Obama had stood in the plant and promised it would be open for 100 years with the help of the government.
NPR’s analysis was so strongly one-sided that they said the only people Ryan’s speech would appeal to would be “low knowledge voters” – those who didn’t bother to analyze the issues. One commentator even said that if you wanted to counteract Paul Ryan’s case on Medicare to these voters you would need to simply say he intended to abolish Medicare. Which, of course, is not Ryan’s latest proposal on Medicare.
I have made it a habit to listen to both NPR and Fox News. I get two very different perspectives on issues and then have the opportunity to weigh the information I’ve heard. I used to teach a class on critical thinking at Belmont University and have written a book on the topic. I make it a practice to look at both sides of an issue, explore the facts, then run my analysis through my values and make a decision. My values include fiscal responsibility. That is the piece NPR is missing. That any voter could actually be intelligent and vote for Romney/Ryan seems to be beyond their comprehension.
During the Juan Williams debacle in 2010, NPR was accused of not being objective. They asked for listeners to share with them times they hadn’t presented both sides of a story. In one segment, a listener joined them and shared his perspective of their biased journalism, and the interviewer couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept that he hadn’t been fair.
Last night NPR not only was blatantly pro-Obama and offensive , they lacked integrity. If they claim to be objective, they should walk the talk. Giving both sides of the story would have been the right thing to do. Take it from a “high knowledge” voter.
Last week I told you the story about my insensitivity in telling a story about being late to a woman who was late for unavoidable purposes. I had feared she might have taken it wrong and that wasn’t my intention. After I emailed her about my concerns – she sent me this story.
“I recently met with a networking contact, an established leader. I was right on time, and he was there waiting for me. I casually asked what time he had gotten there and it was 30 minutes earlier. He went on to say that earlier in his career he had met regularly with an established leader, and every time he arrived, that person was already there. He would come earlier and earlier, but could not beat this other person to the meeting place. He finally asked, and that person said that he would never be beaten. It was his way of showing respect. I thought that was such a picture of a leader with humility, besides all the practical reasons for being early rather than late.”
I love her story – and being early does indeed embody humility. We put ourselves second in order to make sure we honor the person we are with when we arrive early. If we can do it for an airplane, how much more should we do it for someone we either want to develop a relationship with or someone we already have a relationship with. It’s all about integrity.
I teach and coach emotional intelligence for leaders. That implies that I’m really good at it – and the truth is sometimes I am, and sometimes I’m not. Yesterday morning was one of the “not” days. I had an 8 am appointment and the woman was late due to traffic issues. She sent me a message and let me know she was running behind. Since I had a 9 am appointment at another location, by the time she arrived, we only had about 20 minutes. As I was preparing to leave, she made a comment about not making me late to my next meeting. Then, in a complete lack of awareness of how she might interpret the story, I told her a story about a summit I’d just returned from.
About half way through the summit, when many people were returning to their seats late from breaks, the very well respected leader took the stage and told us that any time we were late we were disrespecting the other person. Being late was a way of saying, “My agenda is more important than yours.” He did it in a very respectful and caring manner, but still got the point across. It is unacceptable to be late – and it’s a matter of integrity. I shared this story with the woman I’d met, never once thinking about the fact that she might think I was aiming the story at her. That’s a lack of emotional intelligence. I only thought about it 10 minutes later.
I’ve since connected with her and made sure she knew of my lapse in EI and that the story was in no way intended to send a message to her. So I gained two lessons – not to be late, and a reminder once again to think before I speak. Maybe one day I’ll get better at this EI thing.
I am so proud of our granddaughter for making a hard call. She was working for a day care agency, caring for infants. The agency was cutting corners to a point where she believed there were safety issues. An infestation of ants went untreated and she kept finding them in the diaper cabinet. Rugs in the facility had shredded backing, putting the infants at risk of choking. Her repeated requests to deal with these issues went unanswered. Finally one day, an infant playing on a rug, put a piece of the rug backing in her mouth and choked. Our granddaughter responded immediately and the baby was OK. But the daycare agency asked her to sign a report that lied about the incident. She refused and said she would stay late if she had to and let the parent know the truth about what happened. That took courage. For the following week, she was harassed by her supervisor – making her work environment difficult – and so she quit.
Today she joins thousands of other young people on the job market – but she takes with her the knowledge that she stood up for what was right and kept her integrity. She joins the ranks of integrity fanatics.