I was in the waiting room, last week, as my wife had her eye surgery, and I happened upon a recent issue of Reader's Digest. In it, they listed the 100 Most Trusted People in America.
Before I tell you who No. 1 was, let me say that there was a time when veteran newsman Walter Cronkite was deemed the most trusted man in the country. Not far behind him were other news anchors of the day, and worldwide public figures like the Pope and Mother Teresa.
On today's list---and I have no idea how it was culled---you had to go all the way to no. 25 before you could find a news person, and I don't even recall who it was.
The rest of the Top 25 was filled with actors and other recognizable faces---but not those who deliver us our news every day.
By the way, the Most Trusted American, according to the Digest, is actor Tom Hanks.
While that sinks in, I'll tell you that no. 2 on the list was another actor, Sandra Bullock.
I will also tell you that President Obama wasn't on the list at all---but Michelle was.
But I got to thinking: which people did the magazine poll, and how was "trust" defined?
Was it trust, as in, who would I most trust to be with my children while I was away, or trust as in, would I lend this person my lawn mower?
There are different degrees of trust, you know.
And did the people who were polled, even really know what trust means anymore?
Judging by the results, it appears that we're either in really bad shape, or in really good shape. Not sure which.
In other words, is this a good time or a bad time to be an American, when Tom Hanks is the most trusted among all 280 million+ citizens?
And trusted in what way? Are we saying that we trust Hanks to take acting roles that are beneficial to his career, or are we saying that if we needed someone to water our plants while we're gone, Hanks is our guy?
And what's up with Sandra Bullock as no. 2?
Again, not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Hanks: Most trusted
But I think what struck me most wasn't who was on the list, but who was ranked so low---namely, newspersons.
It's not that difficult to ferret out, really. News on television has become a pie cut into slivers these days. There's so much news out there, so many talk shows discussing the issues of the day, that there are hundreds of talking heads out there yelling their own version of "And that's the way it is," Cronkite's old tag line.
In this poll, was there a ballot? An exhaustive list of names where people were asked to select 100 from among it? I doubt the Digest just went up to people at random and asked, "Who is the most trusted American, in your eyes?"
Regardless, Tom Hanks is the most trusted American. Our newspeople don't show up until 24 names later.
Again, good or bad?
Frankly, I'm curious as to the trustworthiness of the list itself.