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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Bye Charlie

       If you took a DNA sample from every political journalist in this state, it's a good bet that sensitivity to another person's feelings would not be a dominant gene, if you found one at all.
       Practitioners in this biz tend to be on the rough and tumble side and if they demonstrated any sympathy to the plight of another, they would have gone into social work instead.
       The passing of state capitol correspondent Charlie Cain has drawn many deserved praises about how he successfully plyed his talents as he informed the readers of the Detroit News for decades.
       What follows  never made the papers. It speaks to the kind of human being Mr. Cain really was.
       The Jennifer Granholm and Dick DeVos campaigns were engaged in some intense negoiations over the first 2006 debate between the incumbent and GOP challenger Mr. DeVos.
       The DeVos camp had made a tactical bundler. It agreed to a no rules televised debate with a single moderator.  The format clearly favored her.
       Unable to back out, the DeVos team sought to dilute the ability of the  moderator to bore in on both candidates with an endless series of questions and follow up questions.
       The DeVos negoiators demanded that a second correspondent be added to the program.  Unwilling to lose the debate altogether, the Granholm folks gave in and both agreed on Mr. Cain…a testimony to his stature in its own right.
       The lone moderator is a superior format in that the candidates can not duck answers by running the clock or hiding behind the rules cause there are none. Mr. Cain knew that the single moderator in this case had made a career out of doing those debates.
       Just after Mr. Cain was selected, the phone rang with an apology: I'm really sorry about this.  I had nothing to do with it and if I had my choice I would not do the debate," he revealed his unique DNA.
       "Charlie.  Thanks for the call, but the important thing here is the debate and not who is moderating it.  Let's make this work.  No hard feelings."
       Another, lesser person, would have skipped the phone call and would have been overjoyed with the chance to fire some questions at the two candidates on statewide Public TV with one million viewers.
       But Mr. Cain's first concern was not enhancing his own career, but worrying about the concerns of a long time colleague and friend.
       In the biz, we call that a class act which Mr. Cain certainly was.


Blogger Mark Francis jaeger said...

I remember Charlie from the days when I was active in ASMSU and he was a key player on John Jewell's staff at the State News. He could be a gadfly, but his ethics and thoroughness made us respect his work.

July 19, 2011 at 5:33 AM 

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