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Best Moves

[whitespace] A flack and two whacks

By Bob Harris

YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD about the ads former ABC newsman David Brinkley did for Archer Daniels Midland, the giant grain and energy company that calls itself the "Supermarket to the World." (By the way, that slogan is apparently supposed to be a good thing, although it sounds a lot more to me like "Don't screw with us; we've got all the food.")

The ads were a big controversy because they showed the former host of ABC's Sunday morning talkfest chatting up the virtues of ADM from a studio set that looked a lot like his old one. The ads were intended to air during the old program, which means if you're a casual viewer, you might not have realized you were looking at a commercial.

That's bad, obviously, as no shortage of other jabbermeisters rushed to point out. Real newsmen aren't supposed to be lining their pockets by pretending a paid commercial announcement is actually objective reporting. So ABC dropped the ads. Good for them.

But what nobody's pointing out here is that David Brinkley wasn't really doing anything new. Fact is, ADM has been a major sponsor of all the Sunday morning talk shows, including Brinkley's, for years. And somehow, coincidentally, ADM gets a surprisingly wide berth.

For example, when ABC's experts talk about welfare, Cokie and Sam somehow rarely mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies that ADM sucks up every year. And when the two Georges yammer about questionable financial arrangements with politicians, somehow they rarely get around to that condo in Florida that Bob Dole got through his connections with ADM.

It's bad enough they've got all the food. Nobody ought to own the Supermarket of Ideas as well.

PAT ROBERTSON is actually opposing the death penalty? Something truly weird must be going on. Yup. In Texas, there's this Karla Faye Tucker woman on Death Row. She's the foxy-looking, Bible-thumping, artery-slashing double-murder babe who wants clemency because she recently found God and stuff, which means now she can help her fellow out-of-control axe murderers sort of, uh, get a grip on things.

Besides axe handles.

Karla Faye was on 20/20, Larry King Live, and a bunch of other TV shows last week. Why? Not because she might be innocent. Nope. She confessed. And it's not because many folks down there are rethinking capital punishment. She's in Texas, remember, where they executed more people last year than in all other states combined. Besides, the Cowboys had a lousy season.

People need something to do.

The only reason anyone gives a ding-dang about this woman is because she's really cute, which gives the TV cameras something to point at. Don't kid yourself. If she looked like Shaquille O'Neal in drag, she'd probably be dead already. Or suppose she converted--not to Christianity, but to Islam. We're not having this conversation.

But now there's this dewy-eyed, full-lipped, tawny-haired, Deuteronomy-reciting, pin-up-looking chick, and suddenly even Pat Robertson is willing to forgive the small matter of those two handcrafted vein-rippings she indulged in a while back.

Folks, justice is supposed to be blind. If it ain't, it ain't justice.

And until we figure out how to do that, I don't see how anybody can support executing one group of people and not another--as if any human soul is more or less redeemable because of the container it came in.

This ain't pleasant to admit, but in our prisons, people often live or die depending on the color of their skin. There are people on death row right this minute for whom redemption isn't even a question, because evidence of their actual innocence exists.

Seems to me that if you oppose the death penalty for Karla Faye Tucker, you may just have to oppose the death penalty, period.

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From the January 22-28, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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