Press Talk: I have a particular set of skills

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at

Regular readers of this column likely know I have a journalism degree from the University of Florida.

But very few of you know that I minored in speech. And that has given me a particular set of skills. A set of skills that allows me to do many particular things.

Once, I helped put a bank robber behind bars by using this particular set of skills.

I’m not kidding!

This particular set of speech skills also allows me to listen closely to what someone is saying and quickly interpret what they are really saying.

OK, I could be kidding a little on this one, but keep reading and tell me if I don’t mostly have this spot on:

Let’s begin with County Councilor David Madore.

As most of you know, Madore has made a royal mess of things around these parts. He has done so much stupid stuff that all of his wealth and the wealth of his rich buddies couldn’t get him elected to the county chair position.

He’s still grieving over that council chair loss. So he continues to search for some explanation other than that people don’t much like what he’s done. And he thinks he’s found it in the pews of a 1,000-member church.

OK, here’s what Madore actually said:

“Last week, I received a call from a citizen that said he did not vote, nor did most of the people in their 1,000-member church. He said they didn’t think they needed to vote, because it didn’t occur to them that we could lose.”

OK, so here’s what my particular set of skills tells me Madore was really saying:

“Wow, even I couldn’t make crazy stuff up like this. Well, I could, but … can you believe 1,000 church members didn’t vote because they thought I was a lock? Heck, I lost by less than that.

“So, I would have won! And all that big money would have worked. Except this one church stayed home en masse.

“So I’m blaming the church! And I can now go back to believing the county really does love me. Yea, Clark County!”

OK, let’s try my particular set of skills out on State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas.

Pike, of course, is now running a stealth write-in campaign for the county council seat. And she recently commented on a story in the weekly Reflector on the local Republican Party endorsing that run. I call it a stealth campaign because Pike has vowed not to officially sign up as a write-in candidate and will not campaign for it. But she’ll take the gig if elected.

If this sounds completely strange and foreign to anything you’ve ever heard about politics, well, that’s because it is.

Pike, by the way, is (not) running for the very same county chair seat that Madore couldn’t win. She aligns politically with Madore and is doing this (not) running with his complete blessing.

OK, here is what Pike said about The Reflector story on her (not) running:

“This is an excellent example of fair and balanced reporting by the hometown newspaper where I grew up! Thanks for the straightforward article.”

And this is what my particular set of skills says Pike really was saying:

“I love it, love it, love it when a newspaper takes a press release or a comment at face value and just runs with it. Did I say I love it?

“That pesky Columbian, on the other hand, is always digging, snooping around, finding stuff in my past I’d rather they not bring up. What is wrong with those people down at The Columbian?

“Why can’t they be more like my hometown paper? Did I say I love them? Well, I do!”

Last one.

County Environmental Services Director and Republican State Sen. Don Benton. Also known as “Boss Hogg.”

I’ve been commenting on Benton pretty regularly ever since Madore and Councilor Tom Mielke slipped Benton through the back door and into his sweet $115,000-a-year environmental director’s job.

Benton couldn’t tell the difference between dioxin and deli meats but — what the heck — his Republican buddies gave him the job, anyway. A few weeks ago, I ran into Benton at a county council meeting, and he refused to shake my hand. And this is what Benton had to say to me:

“Lou, you’re a scumbag.”

OK, this is what my particular set of skills told me that Benton really said:

“Lou, you’re a scumbag.”

• • •

I hope you appreciate my particular set of skills. They have been honed by years of diligent training. I only wish they worked better when I’m playing poker.

Oh well. Getting bank robbers behind bars and deciphering politicians will have to do.