We're living in a time of whiplash.
Executive orders, proposals, accusations, denials are coming out of Washington, D.C. so fast, it's nearly impossible to keep up. It almost doesn't matter whether you agree with something; in short order it will be revectored to mean something different.
Take the big idea of the wall along the border with Mexico; during the election campaign then-candidate Donald Trump said he would build a wall, and Mexico would pay for it. This week, it was pretty clear Mexico was having none of it. So, on Thursday it went from Mexico will pay, to tariffs on imports will pay, to Congress will pay for it, to, well, these are just ideas.
But one thing that came of Washington this week was louder and clearer than ever: Trump and his chief strategist's disdain for the media.
On Wednesday, Steve Bannon rang up the New York Times to speak on behalf of Sean Spicer, the administration spokesman who produced the information about the inauguration that lead Kellyanne Conway and others speaking of "alternative facts" with a straight face.
The conversation included a full blown attack on the elite and mainstream media for their poor job covering the election and for being out of touch with America. He concluded with this admonishment: The media should keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. He also was very clear that the media, not Democrats, are the opposition party.
If the stakes weren't so high, this might be laughable.
But the stakes — truth, democracy, the American way of governing — are high and should not be taken lightly.
I'd like to recommend that Bannon go back to the source regarding the relationship of government and media, shake off the whiplash and listen to Thomas Jefferson:
"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Tip of the hat
As the Williamsburg James City County School Board wraps up its secret search for a new superintendent — expect to see the white smoke rise from the chimney at James Blair around Feb. 11 — we have been thrilled to report on a very different search being conducted by the board for a new director of Williamsburg Regional Library.
They ran a more open search — they released the names of the three final candidates and are in the process of conducting in-person interviews. Two have been completed and the third is scheduled for the beginning of February.
The library lost one candidate who was not willing to have his/her name made public, but they prized openness over secrecy and took the hit.
Earlier this month we wrote a story about the search and library board member Jim Axtell was philosophical about it.
"We are a public institution with a publicly appointed board of trustees," Axtell said. "The public has a right, and a desire, to know who's being considered to direct a major public institution."
We could not agree more.
Comings and goings
We recently bid farewell to Heather Bridges, who joined the Gazette as an intern in June 2015 and stayed on as a full-time reporter covering arts, culture and entertainment. Heather's reporting and writing illuminated the rhythm and beauty of the things she covered.
But all is not lost. Jimmy LaRoue will join the staff as public safety and transportation reporter. He comes to us following stints at Elizabeth City, N.C., Waynesboro and a few other small newspapers. His first day will be Feb. 13.
Bellows is editor of The Virginia Gazette. You can reach her at email@example.com or at 757-345-2347.