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Musings: 20 Questions From Jack Cashill’s The Sentinel

For those that have not heard, conservative author Jack Cashill has launched a digital news product of his own. The Sentinel launched on January 30, 2017 and according to Cashill is seeing some great site traffic early on.

More from The Sentinel’s about page:

The Sentinel is an online news service that began publishing on January 30, 2017. We are an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that holds government and mainstream media accountable for providing complete, accurate and unbiased information so that citizens can make their own informed decisions on matters of public policy.

Our efforts are primarily focused on Kansas and western Missouri but not exclusively. We accept no government money and rely strictly on contributions from readers to support our work. We hope to add more reporters as funding becomes available and hope eventually to have at least one reporter in the major population centers.

One of the occasional features of Cashill’s site is his 20 Questions. Cashill sent over 20 questions to yours truly, so I thought I’d put my full responses on here for all to read. The Sentinel shortened them up a little bit.

What inspired you to launch the Northland News?
I’ve been a political and news junkie since I was a kid. I hate the news, especially the local news. I find they focus on all the wrong things and work extra hard at feeding people a steady diet of death, destruction, and pessimism. You look at the actual statistics on life and the world today, and by almost every measure, things are improving. Meanwhile, there are numerous local stories that go untold. Good people doing great things in their neighborhood every day of the week.
The one area I don’t see our society improving is in the area governance and civic responsibility. The average citizen loves to attack politicians, but rarely do they invest any time in actually learning about their local government and those that represent them. You can be frustrated, but you get the government you deserve, not the one you want. Having said that, somewhat in their defense, the local news sources do a terrible job of covering the local political scene. Nobody reads the local paper anymore.
I think a local news source should be different. I think it should focus on the local community first, it should motivate people to get involved in their communities and their governments, it should make elected officials uncomfortable as possible, and finally I think it should remind people that there’s a hell of a lot of good in the world, too.
What kind of news do you cover?
I tend to focus my actual coverage on Clay County. The bulk of my active reporting has focused on the Clay County Commission. TheNorthlandNews.com also publishes lots of press releases that come from various sources that try to inform people on what’s going on in their local community and state.
Can you make a living at it?
I certainly hope to. I currently have a real job with an employer that’s really supportive of the endeavor.
How many hours a week do you put in?
I do my best to still be a present father, husband, and stay healthy while I try to get this thing off the ground. I’m putting in about 50-60 hours a week total between all my responsibilities.
Why is Clay County so much better than Platte County?
Eh…I don’t know that it is. We’re definitely larger by population, but Platte County has a lot going for it, too. I hope TheNorthlandNews.com can grow to focus on the both counties in its future.
Can a political person like yourself run an apolitical news service?
I hate this question, not so much because you asked it, but because of the common conception people have about news and the concept of bias. If you examine the etymology of the word, bias had nothing to do with dishonesty. It’s first English usage simply meant predisposition or prejudice. Today, most Americans see the term as having something to do with dishonesty and a lack of fairness.
I’m going to shock our dear readers of this interview, all human beings are biased, meaning prejudiced. Escaping our biases and being completely objective is one of the most challenging intellectual exercises we undertake. Humans are tribal and we tend to gravitate toward the tribe that feeds us the information we want to hear.
All news since the dawn of the printing press has demonstrated some sort of bias. Anytime an editor says that I’m going to publish this story, and not that, they’re exhibiting a prejudice toward some viewpoint. This is the fundamental problem with the news industry in my opinion. Human beings are naturally biased toward pessimism because it’s the way our brains are wired due to human evolution. Rewind several thousand years ago and you’ll find early mankind exhibiting a bias that was necessary for survival. Seeing the worst outcome was necessary because something, big, bad, and ugly was probably going to eat you if you didn’t worry about it. Our brains actually have a tiny little portion called the amygdala, it’s the fear portion of the brain, and the news industry, through its story selection, activates that little center of the brain on a regular basis.
There are two sides of a news source. There’s the news coverage and then there’s the editorial side. All editors are political, it’s self-deception to believe otherwise. The thing that has always frustrated me is that many in the media parade around claiming to be these paragons of integrity and objectivity when the bulk of the American people see through it.
You know my biases. I laid them out above. I hope you’ll read the site.
What is the biggest story you’ve broken?
The biggest trafficked article on the site was actually a recent editorial I wrote about high school football coaches salaries here in the Northland. I got wind of a big coaching change and decided to approach it from more of an editorial approach. I’m a former public educator, and it was always a topic that frustrated me. I guess I was the first to “report” the change online, but it wasn’t a news report.
The second biggest story on the site was the announcement of the Northland Costco. Not kidding, but people went bonkers over that story.
What annoys you most about Clay County politics?
I guess I’m amazed at the lack of leadership in the County. I have chronicled the problems on the Clay County Commission over the last year and a half. Every week I go down there I think, oh, it can’t get any worse, but true to form, it gets worse. This year has been a comedy of epic proportions.
Does the Northland News have a position on KC’s GO Bonds?
Since I’m pretty much The Northland News, yes.
First, I agree that there’s a lot of needs in basic infrastructure in the Northland. This was actually a bit of a hot button topic. I published a “Citizen Voices” column last year from a Northland activist that got a lot of traffic. There are neighborhoods in the Northland that were annexed decades ago that still don’t have sidewalks. (And for the record, for those that always proudly screech how would would we have infrastructure if it wasn’t for government, reread that last sentence.) I certainly have a large amount of empathy for some of the supporters of the GO Bond.
But, here’s the problem, despite the supposed claims of a rebounding economy, America is careening towards a debt crisis at an alarming rate. It is said that debt caused the 08 crisis, and while it’s more complex than that, at a basic level debt was a significant problem. So, we’re setting here in 2017 with literally twice the government debt in the world today than we had in 2008. Personal debt is back up to pre-crisis levels, but, hey, sunshine and lollipops, government debt is “good”, get you some more government debt.
For decades political leaders have done a terrible job at prioritizing infrastructure and basic needs in Kansas City. But, I hear there’s a really cool toy train that just opened and a convention hotel coming. Please, please, please don’t worry that Moody’s just downgraded the City’s bond rating.
Let me pause and take a lick of my yummy lollipop….
So, right now, if I was a Kansas City citizen I’d vote the GO Bond down and hope like crazy we don’t go through another 08.
Does the Northland News have a position on a KCI single terminal?
I’ll be honest, I need to know more about this issue. I like KCI as it’s currently constructed.
In your lifetime who is your favorite Missouri politician?
I’ve been impressed with Governor Greitens so far. I don’t always agree with him, but I’ve met him a couple of times and he seems to be genuine, which means I’m just waiting to be disappointed. I hope I’m proven wrong.
Who is your least favorite?
Wait, I have to list just one? The two I can’t stand the most right now are our US Senators. Claire McCaskill is such a fraud, but she does well playing to her base and presenting herself well to moderates. I have a hard time believing she actually has a principled bone in her body. I’ve never been a Roy Blunt fan either. He’s terrible on Liberty issues, and is a huge proponent of the war machine. They both need to go.
What is the most memorable book you have read in the last year or two?
That’s tough to narrow down. I’m an avid reader and really think people should get off of Facebook and read more often. This last year has been frustrating as I don’t get to read as much as I like to.
I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. It’s by Douglas Abrams and it’s about a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Dharamsala. There’s some collectivist nonsense in it occasionally, but the core of the message is interesting and stretches my thinking.
Other books from the last couple years I highly recommend:
Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis
The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley
We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age by Laurie Calhoun
Will MU ever recover from 2015 meltdown?
I’m not sure. College itself is headed towards a real problem in our society. I think the American people are starting to question it’s value. You have this problem for MU from 2015, and then you have the State Auditor’s audit from last week. Any parent should think deeply before sending their child off to a school like MU, or any college for that matter. Many of them are far from institutions of “higher learning” anymore. Hopefully that didn’t trigger too many into their safe space…
Should the school have left the Big 12?
I could care less. I hate college sports. They’ve become a subsidized farm system for the NBA and NFL. Meanwhile college tuition keeps rising, the value of the degree keeps falling, and more kids are going into debt to pay for it all.
Why is Missouri a better state than Kansas?
Honestly, I’m not sure that it is or isn’t. I’ve lived here all my life. It’s a beautiful state in many ways, but it also has a lot of opportunities. We have two of the most violent cities in the country right here. That’s not exactly something to be proud of. Job creation has been terrible for years here, and the state government is a joke at times.
What TV series would you recommend a friend binge watch?
I don’t watch much TV and tend to only see shows after they’re out for a season or two. Having said that, I’m really liking the new 24 with Corey Hawkins. I was a big fan of The Walking Dead up until this season when they completely ruined it. Homeland is another one I’ve always liked.
Do you think KC takes the Northland seriously?
No, but I think it probably ought to start doing it. There’s a lot of great things happening up here and it’s going to matter a lot in the coming years.
What quiet Clay County attraction should area residents be sure to visit?
North Kansas City and Gladstone are two interesting stories that I’d like to tell more about. Two little cities stuck right in the middle of Kansas City. There’s no earnings tax there and they’re really doing some interesting things to improve and grow.
Finally, does it trouble Clay Countians that their most celebrated native son was a serial killer?
Heh… I find the fact that people up here celebrate Jesse James a little bit embarrassing and strange. It should trouble people, but it doesn’t seem to. But, hey, we elected a President that once attended Jeremiah Wright’s church and was friends with Bill Ayers, why not, right?

About Andrew Palmer