James Tingle grew up in Carbon Hill and is a product of the Walker County School System, attending Oakman schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. After college, Tingle enlisted in the Army, serving as a military intelligence analyst in Afghanistan.
I met Tingle in August 2019 when he was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Jasper. He shared some very interesting stories about his time serving in a special missions unit. Tingle was a targeting analyst who identified potential terrorists who might carry out missions against the United States.
A day or so after his speech, the Daily Mountain Eagle ran a front page piece on what Tingle had talked about during that meeting. A link to that story was posted to the DME Facebook page, and it was met with all positive remarks. It had 24 reactions (all positive) with 29 shares (all positive) and four comments (all positive).
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Tingle for a few minutes when he visited the Eagle office to participate in an interview with Jennifer Cohron and Drew Gilbert for their DME-sponsored podcast, “Left on Red.” Tingle was now working on the vetting team for the Joe Biden campaign. We talked for a few minutes, and I told him congrats on his new endeavor. It’s not every day that someone from Walker County lands a gig on a presidential campaign.
A feature story on Tingle working on the campaign ran in the April 19 edition of the DME. It was posted to our Facebook page that day. It wasn’t met with all positive remarks. It had 142 reactions (63 thumbs up, 51 hahas, 11 hearts, 11 cries and six angry faces) with 34 shares (mostly positive) and 208 comments (at least half of which could be classified as ridiculous or despicable).
Two stories on the same individual, but very different reactions.
The first story had the headline “Tingle makes career out of intelligence,” with the second story’s headline being “Walker County native working on Biden campaign.”
While I can see why that second headline might not be popular in Walker County due to the political landscape here, I do not understand the amount of vitriol and downright ugliness shown to one of our own by the people who commented on that story.
How have we slipped to a point that a native of our area working on a presidential campaign isn’t a good thing? At any other time in our country’s history, that would be celebrated by people throughout the political spectrum. But we now live in a world, even here in Walker County, where differences divide us like never before. We can’t be happy for someone else because they are not on our “team.” Even some of the positive comments were opened with something like, “I don’t agree with his politics, but…congrats.” Why can’t we just say congrats? Just a guess from me, but it may be because the worst thing anyone could think of us might be that we are on the “other” side.
This man dedicated a time in his life to serve in the Army, working his hardest to make sure that Americans were safe. His work no doubt saved the lives of other soldiers as well as U.S. citizens. Having people so flippantly dismiss his service just because they don’t like the politician he may be working for currently is disgusting. I realize that many of those commenters only read the headline and felt like they needed to say something to demean anyone who isn’t working with their guy, but that type of ignorance is why sensible political discussions are almost a thing of the past.
A few people even took the post as an opportunity to fire shots at the DME, calling your newspaper a liberal rag. It is the same paper who has written front page stories about a local person serving on the Republican National Committee and on locals who were delegates during the last election for the Trump campaign. Tingle’s working on the campaign story wasn’t even on the front page; it was in the Lifestyles section.
A majority of the commenters on the DME Facebook page are not subscribers to our newspaper. That is fine. It would be my hope that our local news coverage would captivate them into subscribing at some point.
I’m not naive enough to think social media comments should always be positive. There is a place for speaking our minds and giving our opinions. I would urge everyone to have at least a somewhat informed opinion, and that may take reading more than a headline or one sentence from a given article.
Congrats James Tingle on being an outstanding human. Thank you for your service to our country. Enjoy your time working on a presidential campaign. And always keep your head up, knowing that you stirred up a few social media trolls in Walker County.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or email@example.com.