The media is wacked. Freedom of the Press is a fundamental Constitutional right. But what happens when the press shows all the symptoms of out of control ADHD? Should mandatory Ritalin medication be legislated? Yeah, let's just pass another law. That usually works... Or maybe we should just mess with their heads. It's definitely more fun.
Last month the press in Maine went absolutely spastic when it was discovered that an Iranian refugee who had lived and worked in Portland and Freeport had joined ISIS. He had abandoned his wife and children, traveled to Turkey, crossed the border into Syria and was killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon.
The right wing went nuts that our immigration process had not weeded him out. The Governor was outraged that our welfare system had supported him. The left wing went ballistic that confidentiality of welfare recipients had been compromised. And the hyperactive press responded like a classroom of 3rd graders in insulin shock the morning after Halloween.
I didn't know anything about Adnan Fazeli. I certainly didn't know that in 2014 he and his family had lived across the street from our little rental house here in Freeport.
The day before the Big Story broke the press was working overtime. The light blue Prius (of course) pulled up to the end of my driveway. I was working in the garage with the door open and watched the professionally dressed young female journalist exit her car and walk confidently toward me. She had her expensive brown leather folder clasped firmly under her left arm and a cup of Starbucks Mocha Chi Latte with cinnamon and a shot of espresso in her left hand.
She extended her right hand and spoke. " Good afternoon. I am Emily Dickinson, Investigative Reporter from the Portland Press Herald." She flashed me her press badge.
Here eyes kind of rolled back in her head as she continued. Reminded me of the crazed look in my dog's eyes when I would take him to the vets for a shot. She was clearly stressed... on a deadline... anxious to receive her Pulitzer prize.
"I am speaking with neighbors on the street who might have known Adnan Fazeli," she probed.
Like I said, I didn't have a clue who the guy was. But why pass up a chance to mess with the press.
I laid down my tools and looked her dead in the eyes. "Oh no! What happened to my good buddy Adnan."
Her reaction was Pavlovian. Her eyes glazed over. She dropped her folder. She spilled her Latte. She seemed to have lost her ability to speak as she groped for a pencil. A major rush of adrenaline surged through her veins. Finally she had her reporter notepad and a writing utensil, ready to capture my every word.
She answered my question. "Adnan Fazeli was killed in Lebanon while fighting for ISIS. So how long did you know Mr. Fazeli?" She moistened her lips nervously.
It was borderline sadistic what I was doing to this poor kid, but it was just too much fun to pass up. After decades of the press pushing my buttons (before I had sworn off the news on TV and had cancelled the morning newspaper) with overblown, inflammatory, untruthful reporting and reactionary weather forecasts, I was enjoying pushing theirs. I suppose I could have fabricated stories about Adnan beheading chickens in the back yard, or carrying an AK-47 in his truck gunrack. Kinda wish I had. But I am not a cruel person. So I said, "Oh, we just moved here. I never met the man."
The confusion in her eyes took a minute to dissipate as her balloon, the story already half written in her mind, deflated. She gathered herself and her latte before wandering back to the Prius and drove away.
I felt bad...but only for a second.