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Editorial: Short takes on DeSantis-trounced Special Olympians and Long-shot candidates

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GOP U.S. Senate forum

Rep. Billy Long speaks at a forum including GOP U.S. Senate candidates on Feb. 12 at the St. Charles Convention Center. At right is fellow candidate, Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

There’s a reason why he’s a Long-shot

Rep. Billy Long, who is making a Long-shot (pun intended) bid for the GOP nomination to U.S. Senate, is doubling down on nutty as a campaign strategy. His advisers (assuming there are any) apparently have told him that if engages in the political equivalent of going over the Niagara Falls in a bathtub wearing a hat with a twirly propeller on top, he might improve his standing in the polls. He appears more than happy to oblige.

Last week, Long issued his platform should he make it to the Senate. The platform, reduced to enough characters to fit in a single Twitter posting, is comprehensive and oh-so achievable. Long would force Vice President Kamala Harris to resign. Then he would convince President Joe Biden to name Donald Trump as vice president. Then Biden would resign. Then Long would finish the Keystone pipeline and the southern border wall that never quite happened under Trump.

After the recent spate of mass shootings, Long declared that the problem is rooted not in unbridled access to military-style firearms. It’s abortion and women’s rights. Growing up in Springfield, he told a radio interviewer, there were “one or two murders a year.” Now, “we have two, three, four a week. …Something has happened to our society, and I go back to abortion. When we decided it was okay to murder kids in their mother’s wombs, life has no value to a lot of these folks.”

No wonder disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens is doing so well in the GOP polls.

DeSantis slam-dunks Special Olympians

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has sure shown the Special Olympics who is boss. An athletic event designed to showcase sporting excellence among disabled people has, instead, been forced to cater to the caustic Republican governor’s warped political agenda. The Special Olympics planned to hold the USA Games in Orlando starting Sunday, with 5,500 athletes participating.

To keep them safe, given the statistical certainty that a coronavirus carrier would be among the participants, organizers imposed a rule that all athletes had to be vaccinated. DeSantis threatened to impose $27.5 million in fines because the mandate would violate a Florida law prohibiting coronavirus mandates. Because, well, freedom.

The vaccination mandate wasn’t designed to impose tyrannical controls, as some might suggest, but rather to keep the athletes alive. One study found that people with Down Syndrome are five times more likely to be hospitalized and 10 times more likely to die from a coronavirus infection than the general population.

The Special Olympics caved and withdrew the mandate, having no time to relocate to another non-Florida venue.

Wishful thinking

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager acquitted after he killed two people and wounded a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, recently claimed on a conservative podcast that he would be attending Texas A&M in the fall. “I’m going to be going there. It’s going to be awesome.”

A university official responded that Rittenhouse had not been accepted and would not be a student at Texas A&M. Rittenhouse later tweeted that he will enroll in the Blinn College District in Texas.

Texas A&M isn’t the first school to deny Rittenhouse’s claims. He testified that he was studying nursing at Arizona State University even though he had never been admitted. Which raises questions about what else he has lied about.

Head down in the Fox hole

In case Fox News wasn’t quite enough of a parody of itself before, the network declined to carry live coverage of Thursday’s prime time House committee hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. The network instead used the occasion to make fun of the members of Congress conducting the hearing and promoting former President Donald Trump’s campaign to downplay this uniquely shameful episode in America’s history — and Trump’s central role in it.

The network’s decision is clearly intended to convey the message that the events of Jan. 6 have been overblown. Fox host Laura Ingraham said as much recently explaining to an interviewer that “Our audience knows what this is. … It’s total theater.” And the network obliges by catering to those viewers, she said.

For Fox News watchers who missed the hearing: The orchestrated riot was an attempted coup by supporters of a sitting president who sought to stay in office after being voted out. It was an unprecedented threat to democracy — one that continues to loom going into future elections. And any news organization that fails to treat that threat seriously isn’t providing journalism, but propaganda.

De-hyping CNN’s take on the news

At long last, CNN has revised its guidelines on what constitutes really important news. The network will stop automatically slapping a screaming “breaking news” headline with a red banner atop the main news story of a particular segment. This matters because members of the news-consuming public rely on responsible journalists to sift and prioritize news events and put them in proper perspective.

When everything gets treated as “breaking news,” there is no longer a sense of proportionality. A police car chase, for example, is interesting. But it does not rank up there with, say, a jumbo-jet airliner crash or an insurrection in Washington.

There have even been times when the mere change of an anchor shift at the top of the hour merited CNN’s breaking-news hysteria, even though the anchor was just repeating a previously reported story. A much more sedate “developing story” banner has mercifully replaced the screamer headlines.

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