I could tape a movie called, Fish In The Bathtub but it interferes with Rachel Maddow so I will skip the movie and share my own fish in the bathtub memoir here. Why not?
When I was about six years old, we lived in Oklahoma where the fishing was excellent. One day, my father caught a very large trout and when he brought it home, the gunny sack was still wiggling so we knew the trout was still alive.
My Father put the fish in the bathtub and it swam around for a few days. It didn’t seem strange at that young age; I was not judgmental. My Dad is long gone and if I could, I have a whole lot of things I’d like to ask him about. I could start each question with, “What were you thinking?”
The fish in the bathtub was a minor incident and it is too late to ask about it now. However, the consequences were serious because I lost my media innocence.
At first, is seemed none of us kids would be harmed because a fish in the bathtub simply meant we couldn’t take our nightly baths. Ask any kid and you will find that having a beautiful trout for a pet is much better than nightly baths.
So while the situation was a bit bizarre, it wasn’t seen as a particular issue. My Dad always did unusual things. Believe me, making sense wasn’t a high priority for my old man.
To make a short story shorter, Daddy had a great . He told everyone about his fish, “that didn’t get away”. Several friends stopped in to admire his trout. That’s when the real story about my loss of innocence begins.
One of my Dad’s cronies knew a writer who heard about the fish in the bathtub. A few weeks later, that friend called and told us to listen to the radio because our story was going to be told. All the kids gathered around the radio – even my baby brother – we were eager to hear about our long-gone fish who was about to be immortalized.
Well! The story on the radio was a comedy about a fish that jumped out of the bathtub at an auspicious time. Somehow a robber, who just happened to be there, stepped on him. The fish was slippery and the robber crashed to the floor. He was caught and that was supposed to be funny but I didn’t laugh .
I cannot tell you how distraught I was. The story on the radio was probably very clever and funny but I certainly couldn’t laugh. I was so mad I almost cried.
From my standpoint, that writer told a lot of lies about our fish! I was ready to march on Washington or write a letter to President Roosevelt. The very idea that the media could twist the truth like that was a shocking revelation.
Time marches on and when it marches, everything changes. These days, I would give the guy who wrote the fish in the bathtub story a pass because it was fiction. At the age of six, I couldn’t distinguish.
I was horrified at six but I’m an adult now. I’ve written plenty of harmless little comedies of my own. Some may even have been inspired by that fish story.
Once, my car broke down and I was towed into an old-fashioned country garage. By the time my car was fixed, I’d written a story about a girl who caught some robbers while driving her father’s tow truck. I sold the story to Scholastic as fiction, and indeed it was.
As an English student, I learned all about the difference between fiction and non-fiction and how important it is to distinguish between the two. I also learned that journalists are supposed to write non-fiction and they have a duty to carefully gather the facts.
Times may change but I’m not ready to give today’s journalists a pass. I realize extreme opinions bring in readers and viewers but people don’t deserve the title journalist when their arguments are based on twisted facts. Some of them seem to feel they can just make up the story to suit their ideas rather than draw conclusions based on what’s really happening.
Now that the primaries are over, we are in for a whole lot of twisted facts during the campaign season. There are plenty of slippery fish spouting the political news and it is only going to get worse. Thank God I lost my innocence so long ago. I simply do not believe it is true because some “expert” says those are the facts.
None of us is six years old anymore. We know the difference between facts and fiction. We know that journalists have a duty to report all the facts. We know that making up the story to suit our own bathtub bubble isn’t right.
As you embrace the media from now to November, keep a clear head. Don’t believe it just because you heard it on TV or on the radio. Do some comparison reading. Check the facts. Check the speaker’s authority. Make sure you know who the robbers really are. Don’t believe everything you hear about the fish in the bathtubs.
Am I discriminating when I listen to TV news?
Am I making an effort to stay well informed?
Am I registered to vote?