Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hyman Barks at the Moon

Apologies for not responding to Hyman’s commentary from Monday (“Portland’s Approved Discrimination”), but when I went to the Newscentral website to read the transcript, it wasn’t available. (My wife long ago banned me from watching “The Point” live, as it comes on right at our bedtime, and tends to make me . . . well . . . a little less than calm and restful. As a result, I rely on the transcripts and streaming video available on the Newscentral site). It seems to have simply been taken down. If anyone out there either saw the original broadcast or has heard why it was removed, drop me a line!

In the meantime, we have a new “Point” to talk about.

Hyman begins
his most recent commentary with the following unintentionally self-referential statement:

"Maybe, just maybe, this is much ado about nothing."

You couldn’t be more right, Mark: your commentary is much ado about nothing.

Hyman, however, is referring to charges that some employees of the USDA have misused their government-supplied credit cards for personal expenses (including tuition for bartending school and the purchase of Ozzy Osbourne tickets).

A few things to keep in mind: first, as Hyman himself notes, these charges are based on a report that came out two years ago. Hyman says his commentary is prompted by “new concerns” raised by the House Republican Steering Committee, but the one page document simply rehashed the previous charges without adding anything new. On top of that, Hyman got the committee wrong; it was the House Republican Study Committee that released the statement on the USDA credit card abuse.

Hyman says this might not be anything to get worked up about since, according to him, USDA employees are ultimately responsible for the expenses they put on their government-issued credit cards.

So let’s review: Hyman spends two minutes of our airtime rehashing charges that are two years old made by a committee so obscure that Hyman can’t be bothered to get the name right, and concludes that there’s nothing to be concerned about after all.

It’s hard to know what’s going on here. Is Hyman simply reaching for any topic to talk about in order to avoid talking about the failures in Iraq? Is it because he’s attempting to show that it’s not only the Department of Defense that abuses credit cards? A previous study showed that members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force used their government-issued credit cards for unofficial business, including at strip clubs, whore houses, and at NSYNC concerts (and Hyman says Ozzy Osbourne is in bad musical taste!). Or maybe he’s just lazy and latched on to the first piece in the conservative Washington Times that caught his eye.

Whatever the excuse, it’s not good enough. This is a perfect example of what local television loses by having someone like Hyman hijack our airwaves—two minutes of a 22-minute local news broadcast flushed down the toilet.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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