Jason Davis: Political opinions not my stong suit

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 12:12 AM

Last week I received a reader complaint that my column wasn’t political enough.

The caller suggested that I should take stands in my column on local issues. He then suggested which way, politically, those comments should lean.

I can understand those complaints about my lack of taking a stand and arguing a side, but that doesn’t mean I can jump in with both feet and be the next Charles Krauthammer, William F. Buckly or Joe Klein. 

Personal columns are traditionally the lone area where a writer has free rein to write about what they want.

It’s a given that some columnists, like those we regularly feature — David Limbaugh, John Stossel, Mark Shields and Kathryn Lopez — write about politics. They’re each involved with either political organizations, publications or beltway politics on a daily basis. They’re paid to take political stands. Each of those writers has a following of partisan readers who expect them to make arguments which support the reader’s own beliefs.

There’s obviously a place for that in the newspaper. We pay for those columns every week and readers respond to them.

When Bill O’Reilly decided to stop writing a weekly column for Creator’s Syndicate at the end of Decemeber, we heard about it. People thought we’d decided to pull O’Reilly, though we’d tried to alert readers to the real reason for the change. O’Reilly has a huge following and people miss his work. I completely get it. 

But, at least at this point in my career, that’s not me. 

For years, primarily as a reporter and not a weekly columnist, I’ve worked to be objective when covering stories and reporting on the issues of the day.

Reporters are encouraged to present both sides of a story — not to pick one side, promote it and make judgments against the other side.

Who, what, when, where, why and how don’t typically include the writer’s thoughts on that issue.

That makes it difficult for me to choose sides and “be more political” even in my opinion column.

Do I have personal political beliefs and values?

Of course, and it’s likely most readers of this paper would agree with many of them. But even so, writing a partisan-style column wouldn’t be my cup of tea.

There are too many issues that aren’t as black and white as they’re painted by politicians and talking heads in their 30-second spots on MSNBC and Fox News.

Writing a weekly column, for me, is a fun weekly distraction from the pressures of my job.

It gives me the opportunity to turn my attention from coordinating news coverage and editorial writing to write about whatever pops into my mind.

Most of the time it’s something small — memories of childhood, a humorous situation or some other relatively mild topic that I think people can relate to.

When I was younger, some of my favorite columnists were humor columnists — Dave Berry or Lewis Grizzard.

While both would ocassionally lampoon a political figure, they usually stuck to laughs. And it was a great contrast to the rest of the things in the newspaper. 

Will I ever write about politics in this space? I’m sure I will. Will it be what you want to hear? Maybe. Maybe not.