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Michael Zimmer: Respect is something that's earned

Singer Aretha Franklin spelled respect, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. President Barack H. Obama had some trouble with that spelling at a recent presentation to honor the Queen of Soul.

We're all pretty familiar with the idea that respect must be earned. Who in your personal life enjoys your respect?

In our houses of worship we've all observed leaders whose words and deeds match up to the extent that they have earned our respect and honor. Many of us have also realized bitter disappointment from religious leaders as well.

Among our friends and family it is easy for respected loved ones to take a step backward in the area of trust based on both misjudgments or, even worse, direct abuses.

Elections, as we will have later this year, provide a marvelous opportunity to learn the mix of incumbents and challengers who have earned voter respect. This election cycle will include such offices as commissioner and sheriff at the county level.

Delegates and senators will also face scrutiny to determine our representation in Annapolis for the next four years.

The top of the ballot in this year's election cycle is governor. One of the leading contenders for that office on the Democratic side is Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. Gov. Martin J. O'Malley had placed Brown in charge of the Maryland health-care exchange as part of implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maryland.

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, R-Dist. 1, announced that the U.S. inspector general has launched an investigation into how the Maryland health exchange has been functioning and how the tax dollars funding the program have been spent.

It will be most interesting to see whether any report from the inspector general will be published prior to either the primary election in June or the general election in November.

In 2012, voters determined the president deserved a second term. Midterm congressional elections can be viewed as a referendum on the efficacy of the president's policies.

GOP candidates for Congress will no doubt attempt to link their opponents to the economic and foreign policy record of the White House. For example, MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt recently interviewed Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison L. Grimes.

Hunt asked whether Grimes would want Obama to campaign with her. The candidate responded that she was capable of speaking for herself. She had no need for "any other surrogate to do that." Grimes added that, "I stand in stark contrast to the president in many of his ideas and platforms."

One television news reporter who I have held in the highest esteem for many years is Sharyl Attkisson. Politico reports that she has resigned from her position at CBS News. That report indicated that Attkisson "had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network's liberal bias, an outsized influence of the network's corporate partners, and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting."

Politico noted that some CBS colleagues considered her work as agenda driven. Since 2009, the majority of her reporting "focused on the failures or perceived failures of the administration, including troubled green-energy investments and the attack in Benghazi."

Politico noted that the White House did not comment on Attikisson leaving. However, it did report that it was known in Washington that her work "has touched a nerve in the administration." Attkisson is working on a book that is tentatively titled, "Stonewalled: One reporter's fight for truth in Obama's Washington."

The report suggested that Attkisson fans consider her not as partisan-driven, but rather a skeptic of government. Her former producers had nicknamed her the "pit bull" for her determination to get the story.

I salute all reporters who are willing to fight to get the facts out to the public regardless of who is in power at any given time. There's a good reason the Constitution enshrines protection for the freedom of the press. That's something, I'm sure, the overwhelming majority of Americans can respect.

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