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Talking with Tyler

October 19, 2007

Rick Tyler, Newt Gingrich’s Press Secretary and Spokesperson, came to speak for Dr. Dana Walker’s Dissident Media class today. Employed under Newt Gingrich for seven years, Tyler has also professionally trained staff and volunteers for hundreds of candidates. He has spoken about forums and co-hosts an internet radio program on The Right Talk. Mr. Tyler lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.
After being introduced, he speaks about four major news channels that many used to get their news from while he was growing up. “Walter Cronkite used to end his news broadcasts with, ‘and that’s the way it is’, and we believed it,” states Tyler. “That’s not true today.” He goes on to explain that many people today have technology at their fingertips which allow people to access information via radio, internet, and from a plethora of news sources on television.
He draws several circles on the board to represent the general populace. Asking the class a series of questions such as whether or not they listen to talk radio such as NPR etc., whether or not the students watched Sunday morning political talk shows, and so on. The issue with this lies in the fact that few people in the United States actually do. “You guys are freaks,” he laughs when some students raise their hands about watching Sunday morning shows, “You are in the minority. Most people don’t.”
Healthcare, pensions, and social security are brought up in the speech. He asks the group about the students’ first jobs. Joking with the class that they might not be too concerned with social security because they are all in the “immortal stage” of life at the moment, he brings up the idea that social security is going to be non-existent in a few years. He speaks about Newt Gingrich’s idea of having two or four individuals debating one another about the real issues. Tyler speaks about the fact that putting all of the Democrats in one room to debate one another makes them appear like crazed liberals while doing the same with all Republican candidates make them appear as crazed right wing candidates. This, according to the speaker, simply drives those who are uninterested in keeping up with the news on the presidential campaign race at bay.
He also brought up the idea that independents have no voice. Independent voters are seen as individuals who are simply sitting with no voice until after the “crazed Democrats” and “crazed Republicans” to make up their minds. He believes that real debates with the candidates in small groups will be more appropriate.
Tyler also criticizes the media. Bringing up the main piece covered by the media about Chandra Levy every day leading up to 9/11, he discusses the fact that many said that the attack that day in September was a surprise. He states that the idea is ridiculous because we did have stories which could have warned us about the issues, however the media doesn’t cover them. Although he feels that the story should have been covered, he also believes that it should not have been covered all summer long. Media is run by profits, according to Tyler. The reason that the real issues are not focused upon is because media outlets want more viewers, and therefore will show stories about Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton instead.
Candidate funding is also an important issue. The idea of raising funds that are funded by groups like Citizens for a Better Life is ridiculous because you cannot really tell where money is coming from. He believes candidates should simply state where the money is coming from directly because it is easier to discover what the candidate stands for. Are they supported by the labor unions, big businesses, etc?
American impatience is also a key part of his discussion. The fact that people get impatient over things such as waiting for receipts, ATMs to deposit money, etc is brought up. Tracking and information such as package whereabouts is considered. He asks students to consider why the government is not always run in such a manner. We have illegal immigrants, yet they cannot be traced. The tragedy with Hurricane Katrina was considered, and Tyler speaks about the fact that people should have been able to help more quickly. He also brings up the fact that Americans often tune things out if they are not directly affected by the issue. Politics is often viewed as foreign to many Americans due to the fact that they don’t feel directly involved.
Rick Tyler is incredibly open to questions, and was more than happy to engage in conversation. His speech is quite interesting and has brought up several valid points. The quality of debate and the importance of activism in politics are some crucial issues that the speaker has brought to light. He ends his speech on the reiterated fact that in the 1950s everyone had access to the same news and information. Today, he states, people are able to make up their own “news worlds” in which they take information from their own variety of sources (The Washington Post, RNC, etc.) to create what they find important.
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