Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Ernest Hooper: When liberals and conservatives listen to each other

I love the television camera, but the camera doesn't love me.

It's a mantra that has guided me through more than a decade of appearances on WEDU's Florida This Week, the popular public affairs talk show that brings together a panel of journalists and newsmakers to dissect the issues of the day. I'll rely on the outlook again when we tape another episode today.

The perspective about love of the camera doesn't underscore my vanity, and it isn't rooted in false modesty. Rather, it keeps me focused on what matters most, and that's delivering cogent thoughts and sharply worded opinions.

Yes, appearances do serve as impetus to go see my barber at E-Clips in Brandon. I tell producer Gina Presson that if I go too long without an invitation, she's responsible for me sporting a 1970s Afro reminiscent of Soul Train.

But trust me, if I sit down with host Rob Lorei fretting about my makeup, pondering how many pounds the camera adds or questioning my shirt-tie combination, my words will collide in a sea of incoherence. It's about what I'm saying, not how I look.

Of course, it helps that Lorei guides the show with affable ease and thoughtful questions. Lorei, who also serves as the news director for WMNF-FM 88.5, plays it down the middle — ensuring that both conservatives and liberals get a fair chance to express views on state and local issues.

The approach results in a portrait of civility that goes against the rancor that underscores so much political debate in our nation. And for the most part, it's real respect — not fake cordiality.

In November, Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Adam Goodman brought together elected officials and political operatives from both sides of the aisle for a special double episode of Florida This Week. The goal of The One Night … We're All Together was to not only to talk about the results of the presidential election but to raise money for WEDU. Amazingly, the goal was met, a riot didn't break out and no one hurled obscenities.

In fact, the on-air conversations extended into off-air debates that underscored differences but never devolved into personal insults. It's almost always the case with Florida This Week. The panelists often joke that the post-show dialogues can be as entertaining as the show itself.

A few shows have even spilled over to a nearby watering hole, with people discovering common ground about politics and pints.

At the risk of sounding woefully naive, I don't understand why we don't see more of this collegiality among our leaders in Tallahassee and Washington. Sure, I get all the factors that continue to fuel the political divisiveness, but I'm also convinced that there is more that unites us than divides us.

The discourse needed to move the country forward breaks down when people on opposite sides refuse to operate with a degree of trust. If the only goal of the discourse is to prove you're right on every point, you only prove you're self-centered and myopic.

When opponents insist that every action represents a hidden agenda and refuse to give even an ounce of credit, the gridlock of Washington materializes before our very eyes.

Yet when you can pepper arguments with "That's a good point" or "I understand where you're coming from" and have such acknowledgements reciprocated, it can be the start of true consensus — or at least a chance to respectfully disagree.

Witness it yourself on Florida This Week at 8:30 tonight on WEDU.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

TAMPA — Former Florida state Rep. Robert Wallace ended his life Monday night by jumping from a Dale Mabry Highway overpass, records show. He was 65.At least one witness saw Wallace plunge 40 to 50 feet onto Gunn Highway, according to a Hillsborough C...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state. Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commis...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Physician seeks Pasco Times building for rehab center

Physician seeks Pasco Times building for rehab center

PORT RICHEY — A Hudson physician hopes to acquire the Times Publishing Co. west Pasco office and convert it into an inpatient center for substance abuse rehabilitation and mental health care. Estaban Alfonzon Ruiz, a doctor of internal medicine, file...
Updated: 4 hours ago
CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CLEARWATER — The heads of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards will hold emergency meetings in the coming days to consider firing president and CEO Edward Peachey. Jack Geller, board chairman of CareerSource Pinellas, and Dick Peck, chairman of ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 5 hours ago
Toymakers dive into toilet for poospiration; Rev. Billy Graham dies at 99; MS-13 sweep keeps most basic details secret; more in U.S. news

Toymakers dive into toilet for poospiration; Rev. Billy Graham dies at 99; MS-13 sweep keeps most basic details secret; more in U.S. news

New YorkDiving into toilet for poospirationToymakers have gone to the toilet for their latest creations. Mattel’s upcoming Flushin’ Frenzy game sends a brown plastic poop flying into the air. And its rival, Hasbro stuck with the potty humor after its...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Time line1918: Born into a strict Presbyterian family near Charlotte, N.C.1934: Accepts Christ at Charlotte revival by traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham.1936: Enrolls in Bob Jones College, Cleveland, Tenn.1937: Unhappy at Bob Jones, he enrolls in Flo...
Updated: 5 hours ago