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U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn

When I got home on Tuesday night, my husband was watching the NewsMax coverage on the Derek Chauvin trial.

Sadly, we’re a growing part of the population that realizes to really know the mood of the country, it is necessary to watch all the cable news channels and take into consideration the political ideologies they represent. Hopefully that action will help provide at least some balance concerning the various and diverse opinions in this nation.

Thankfully, I still think there are many in print media, including The Mountaineer, that strive for balance and don’t need to be taken with a grain of salt like the 24/7 cable news stations.

I was getting supper started when Rich called me into the living room to watch the NC-11 freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn speak about the trial outcome. He said that as a branch of government, the judiciary was to be respected, but not before cautioning that “Kerosene” Maxine Waters may have jeopardized the process with incendiary speech.

Rather than focusing on his words, though, a different stream of thoughts hit me.

Here he was, on national television, with plenty of time on his hands to speak at length with national news reporters, while claiming there’s no time to speak with news media in his district about issues close to home.

I’ve heard our breaking news/political/crime reporter Kyle Perrotti on the phone with Cawthorn’s staff or talking about email exchanges at least a dozen times. Each time he’s asked for just 20 minutes — hopefully more — to interview the Congressman.

He’s been promised a time slot a few times but the call didn’t come. Other times, he’s just told by someone on Cawthorn’s “Comms” staff it’ll eventually happen.

Comms was a new term to me, and one perhaps the Congressman coined in an email to his GOP colleagues that was published by Time magazine a while back.

Cawthorn wrote that he built his staff around comms rather than legislation, and offered the use of his staff to help his colleagues with their messaging.

Kyle still believes he’ll eventually get his in-depth interview where he can ask about a number of issues that matter here in the mountains, but I’m more jaded.

I take the 25-year-old, ultra-rightwing sensation at his word. He’s not in Washington, D.C., to legislate on behalf of voters in his district. He’s there to share and help shape a message of an America he’d like to see. That’s something that requires a national stage, and it’s glaringly obvious that’s his focus.

His attitude mirrors that of his predecessor, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, in his last term before he became President Trump’s chief of staff.

What Cawthorn probably doesn’t realize is that, early in Meadows’ career, the congressman spent countless hours in his home district getting to know voters.

He knew local reporters by their first names and would take calls. That was early on, though, before he, too, rose to the national spotlight. From that point on, Meadows likewise shunned media outlets in his home district.

The thing about local news reporters is that we have our ear to the ground enough to know what matters to people in our communities. We ask pointed questions about issues you care about, not to shape opinions, but to plain and simply share information.

In this upside-down political climate we’re living through, it seems politicians — and their chosen media outlets — are focused on telling voters what they should think, not asking voters what they need from their elected representative.

That is just plain wrong.

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