“Run the story as is, Charlie,” Dennis spun his chair and stared out the window.
“It’s incomplete!” frustration was building inside me. “We should give both sides of the issue.”
The leather chair squeaked as he shifted his weight; an air of uneasiness sat heavy in the room, “We don’t want to offend anyone.”
“Offend anyone?” I leaned forward. “What about Mallory’s group? We’re making them sound like a bunch of radical nuts! Aren’t we offending them?”
“We’re not commentators.”
“You used to tell me that a good story was edgy,” I clasped my hands behind my head, irritation pounding behind my eyes. “And if you weren’t willing to get to the truth you shouldn’t be in the business.”
“It’s not that simple!” he swiveled back toward the desk. “You’ve built your career delivering the news. Just read what we tell you.”
“What’s happened to you?” I stood up, stewing in my aggravation. “I can’t believe that you, of all people, are caving to political correctness!” I turned to leave the office.
“Charlie.” Dennis rose from his chair. “I know you’ll do what’s right. Trust me, you’ll feel better about it later.”
“It’s just not ethical, Jackie.” I slumped forward as her soothing hands caressed my rigid neck and shoulders, “I don’t understand why he …”
“Shhh. Don’t let it upset you,” my girlfriend whispered. “You don’t want to make Dennis angry. He can ruin you if he wants.”
“I don’t know …”
She stepped in front of me, her emerald green eyes sparkling in the bright light, “That’s why I love you. You’re always able to set emotion aside and make decisions based on the facts in front of you.” A smile formed at the corners of her lips, “You know what you need to do.”
“Jacqueline to the set,” a voice blurted over the loud speaker.
“See you out there babe,” she kissed me on the forehead and walked out the door.
A whirlwind of thoughts and emotions enveloped me while I waited backstage, Lord, I need your help. I checked my hair and tie in the mirror, Please, what should I do?
I took my seat behind the bureau. The lights were dim and the crew was bustling about the stage making final preparations.
“Thirty seconds!” Jackie’s voice rang clear above the confusion.
“Fifteen seconds,” the lights brightened, scurrying everyone off like frightened cockroaches.
“And in five …” the teleprompter glowed into focus. “Four …” her fingers waved the numbers as she counted down. “Three …” I straightened my posture. “Two … and one!” the red light on the camera flickered to life.
“This is a KSTN news break, I’m Charles Donahue,” I announced in my most professional voice. I could see Dennis lurking in the shadows of the room.
The words began scrolling on the prompter. “Frederick Barron with the Association for a Secular Society held a rally on Main Street today to prevent right wing religious leader, Pastor Sean Mallory from holding, what they consider to be an illegal gathering on public property,” discontent was growing in the depths of my soul.
Dennis allowed a smirk to smear across his face. “Citing the constitutional guarantee for the separation of Church and State,” I continued, “Mr. Barron voiced his concern …” the words faded into a blur as resentment throbbed throughout my body.
Jackie circled her finger frantically, signaling me to continue with the story.
“Excuse me,” I proceeded, disregarding my cued words. “However, Pastor Mallory had the appropriate permit to hold a march.”
The young lady raised both hands to her head as her mouth fell agape. Dennis stepped forward, his grin now erased.
“He and his group simply wanted to voice their displeasure at the city council for voting to remove the cross from the city seal.”
She began slashing her hand across her neck, confusion etched across her face.
“Pastor Mallory’s contingent, and this reporter are unhappy with the government’s blatant disregard toward Christians and their fundamental right to defend or even discuss the word of God in the public forum!” the red light on the camera dimmed; a deafening hush fell over the studio.
Dennis glared at me, furious. I turned and looked down at the floor.
The sound of footsteps on the floor breached the silence as they drew closer. The fragrance of Jackie’s perfume was captivating while she embraced me. “I’m proud of you,” she murmured.
“Dennis was right …” I looked up; a querying expression crossed her beautiful face. “I do feel better.”
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