Keith Oppenheim

Commentator

Keith Oppenheim, Associate Professor in Broadcast Media Production at Champlain College, has been with the college since 2014.  Prior to that, he coordinated the broadcasting program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). Keith was a correspondent for CNN for 11 years and worked as a television news reporter in Providence, Scranton, Sacramento and Detroit. He currently produces documentaries, and his last project, From Somewhere Else, looked at how global changes in media and communication have changed the immigrant experience.

Recently, I was watching Dan Quayle on NBC News. It had been a while since I’d seen him.

Bernie Sanders plays chess. I learned this in October of 2014, when one of my students produced a short video news story about that very subject.

The Democratic battle for New York was feisty – and arguably a turning point. Now that it’s done, there’s potentially worrisome news for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

So the other day I was surfing online when I came across something which, at first, might not seem as compelling as say - the last thing Donald Trump just said.

When you think about the different big-picture messages between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, it has all boiled down to something like this.

I must confess I’ve been down lately.

Part of that is the calendar; we’re approaching mud season in Vermont. But it also has to do with the political world where it’s been mud season for a while.

A big part of the contest between Bernie and Hillary is a fight over words, particularly one word. It's the P-word: "progressive."

Polls will show by a slight majority, Vermonters think legalizing pot is a good idea - but you can look at another factor – consumption.

In 2014, Vermonters consumed somewhere between 15 to 25 metric tons of marijuana – and spent at least $125 million on that. Per capita, we’re one of the highest pot-consuming states in the nation.

On the night of Trump’s Vermont speech, I was on a plane returning from Florida. At the start of the flight, Delta Airlines proudly announced this was a Wi-fi flight, so I got on the Internet.

Oppenheim: The Gift

Dec 23, 2015

One of the things I love about Burlington is how much I walk. I walk everywhere. Even - believe it or not, to the University Mall, where I recently went to get an eye exam and a new pair of glasses.

From downtown, it’s not the prettiest of strolls; I have to cross a number of highway on and off ramps. But I’m happy to get the exercise. Right near the highway interchange, I was making my way through the parking lot of a restaurant that’s been shut down, not a place where you’d expect to see something remarkable.

But I did.

Let’s face it. Even before the most recent shootings, long before Paris and San Bernardino; before attacks that revealed the power of ISIS and its ability to plot, recruit and spread fear - Donald Trump was calling for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants; and that we establish a registry of all Muslims in this country and shut down mosques.

Just hours after learning about the attacks in France, I went out to dinner with my wife on Church Street in Burlington.

I was 29 years old, in my first few days as a reporter for a TV station in Detroit. My assignment was to meet up with Mayor Coleman Young, the city’s first African American Mayor, and a formidable figure - to put it mildly.

Somewhere downtown, a crowd of reporters - including me - and several camera crews surrounded the Mayor. I found my moment – and shouted out my question.

He looked at me, realizing I was new and said: “Who the (expletive) told you to ask me that question?” Mind you, cameras were rolling. I stuttered – “I did!”

Vermont is having its latest moment in the national spotlight compliments of Bernie Sanders. Let’s call it “The Bernie Effect.” And it’s worth wondering what it may mean in the long term for the rest of us.

It didn’t start particularly well. The “open”, as it’s called – the part with lots of music and graphics and voiceover to start the show... sounded like a football game. Hillary!... Bernie!... Nevada!... something like that. It looked glitzy – and ditzy.

Every weekday, I watch the Today Show from 7AM to 7:20. Mind you, I have a number of other sources for information, but the Today Show is my guilty pleasure, a blend of hard news, pop culture and schlock.

I’ll be honest... sometimes I enjoy the silly stuff. And I tell myself it’s important to watch a big morning TV show, because this is how lots of Americans form their opinions. Lots of studies say so – and that’s what’s got me worried.

In 2007, the FBI came up with a ruse.

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