Off The Wall: Complete Story

John Blair‎ to Mike Rowe

Well Mike, CBS Sunday Morning just did a news report in Charlotte and her cookies.  Very cool story, except for their misrepresentation of the facts. Your involvement was totally ignored and went unreported. This is why so many can’t trust news media today. The story wasn’t a lie, it just wasn’t totally complete. I was hoping it would have been a complete story.

Hi John

When I saw your comment, I immediately thought of the famous quip from Twain – “There’s no telling how far a man can go, if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” I happen to believe that to be a true statement, (mostly,) so I’m not inclined to complain about my view from the editing room floor. However, your desire to see the “complete story” is interesting, and worth commenting on. Because sadly, I’m afraid your desire will never be realized.

Right now, I’m watching a gaggle of talking heads explode around the topic of “fake news.” An entire segment has dedicated to this topic, (wow!) but as I listen to the frenzied back and forth, I know I’m only hearing a fraction of the story. Even as the topic is opened up to a panel of experts, the urgency of the conversation trumps anything approaching enlightenment. The commercial break is looming…the moderator has one more important question…but he needs an answer in thirty seconds!! Now everyone is talking and yelling at the same time!! What’s real? What’s fake? Who cares? Cue the dramatic music…prepare for another desperate tease…and settle in for another five minutes of commercials!!

The “complete story” is a fantasy, John, and it always has been. At least on television. You’ll never find it in a thirty-minute broadcast. Or in a sixty-minute broadcast. You won’t find it on PBS, or the BBC, or any cable channel committed to nothing but news seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. In the history of the medium, the “complete story” has never been told, and it seems to me the most important thing we can do with respect to finding the whole truth, is to stop expecting to find it where it can not possibly exist.

As for the story on CBS, you’re right, it was incomplete. But in fairness, it was not a story about me – it was a story about an 11-year old kid who was rewarded for telling the truth. I’m not an integral part of the main narrative. Maybe, if they were doing a story about the power of social media, or the weird influence of a B-List celebrity broadcasting from his kitchen table, my role would become more relevant. But that’s not what this was. This was just a nice, feel-good story about a very wise Girl Scout, and a gentle reminder to millions of people that honesty is still the best policy – especially when you’re selling something. I was happy to see it air, and very proud of Charlotte.


PS. CBS Sunday Morning did a story on me a few years ago. Check it out. It’s not a “complete story,” but it’s better than most. In fact, it tells the true story of how CBS passed on Dirty Jobs. Kind of funny…