Journalists should be protected just like Republicans

Lousy stinking Republicans!

Their convention in New York City grabs all the attention, completely overshadowing the truly significant convention to hit the Big Apple this month.

Namely, next week's national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists next week.

The Republicans, as usual, get all the breaks. Look at the security hauled out to protect them from terrorists, protestors and poor people. Sure, a lot of people hate Republicans.

But everyone hates journalists.

Where is our security? Where are the extra cops to protect us? We will be like sitting ducks in a town full of angry conservatives still liquored up from the week before.

I can fend for myself. Poor Walter Cronkite, on the other hand, is 87 years old. What is he going to do if he runs into a knife-wielding Ann Coulter -- still drunker than a boiled owl -- in a dark alleyway?

No one thinks about us. Certainly not New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He'll be in the Poconos, sleeping off the Republicans' visit, by the time we breeze in next Thursday. Bloomberg welcomed protestors to town for the Republican convention, even offered them discounts at theaters and restaurants.

And those people behaved like pompous jackasses.

Journalists, however, are paid to be pompous jackasses. We are the professionals here. They are merely gifted amateurs.

We torment people in authority all the time. Given half a chance, we can be much more obnoxious than a bunch of hippy wannabes who took a week off from their beadwork.

Look how much disaster is wrought by the journalists already in New York. The staff of the New York Post alone should terrify Bloomberg a lot more than a busload of kids from Michigan State.

For crying out loud, look at Mike Wallace. The 86-year-old newsman was cuffed in the nick of time Aug. 10 as he allegedly attacked a limousine inspector with a meatloaf.

You would think meatloaf attack would be a crime punishable by death under the USA Patriot Act. If not for the bleeding hearts in Congress, no doubt it would be.

The point is we are dangerous. Why don't we rate a discount on buffalo wings at Applebee's?

Bloomberg asked visiting protestors to pledge to be peaceful before getting all their discounts. They even got little badges identifying them as "peaceful protestors" so merchants could tell the ruly from the unruly.

(Of course, what would keep an unruly protestor from making the pledge just to fill up on buffalo wings before running amok?)

We should get little badges too. We would promise to behave ourselves during our stay. Journalists will do almost anything for free food, including promising not to take anybody's quote out of context.

We would also pledge not to run any stories involving:

♦ Mayor Bloomberg's secret night of passion in Marrakesh with either Paris Hilton, Barbara Bush or Donald Trump.

♦ Any mention of swift boats, weapons of mass destruction, Halliburton or anyone who might have gone AWOL while serving in Texas Air National Guard 35 years ago.

♦ Links between Vice President Dick Cheney and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Furthermore, Geraldo Rivera will be confined to a specially designed cage, and although fed at regular intervals, will not be allowed to regain his strength.

We all remember what happened when Wolf Blitzer broke free of his restraints and carried Katie Couric to the top of the Empire State Building.

The convention agenda already includes a festive opening reception where we all track down Jayson Blair and drive a stake through his heart.

(Carl Kolchak of the Independent News Service in Chicago will be leading that particular activity.)

If we make good on all these assorted promises, I think we deserve the same treatment as the protestors. We want to visit sites like the Museum of Sex and see shows like "Naked Boys Singing" as much as any anarchists.

We promise to stay far away from the people with money and power and not say anything that might make them uncomfortable. They have a hard enough job running the world.

No need to pen us up like the protestors. We promise with our right hand on the Associated Press Stylebook not to upset anyone.

We would do nothing to sacrifice our honor or our 15 percent off coupon at Hooters.

(Tom Henderson is the managing editor of the Itemizer-Observer and president of the Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. While in New York, he plans to egg cars with Bill Moyers.)


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