Category Archives: media news

Trump exhibits monumental leadership void

The reporting of Donald John Trump’s daily briefings dealing with the coronavirus pandemic depresses me terribly. It tells me plenty about the president’s inability or unwillingness to lead a nation in distress.

More than 150,000 Americans have been stricken by the virus; nearly 3,000 Americans have died. The death toll is approaching the number of those killed on 9/11.

Donald Trump’s response at the Q&A sessions that commence during these briefings? He has attacked the media for asking him “nasty” questions. Trump told a respected PBS reporter that she needs to be “nice” to him, wondering why Yamiche Alcindor was no longer working for the New York Times.

This is not how a leader of a nation in distressed is supposed to comport himself.

President Bush led the nation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. He didn’t lash out at the media. He didn’t criticize his political foes. Bush talked candidly to us about the challenges that confronted us. The president reminded us that we weren’t at war with “Islam,” but were going to do battle with those who perverted that religion and brought destruction to our shores.

This president cannot rise to the level of a leader at war. He did call himself a “wartime president,” but has yet to demonstrate a single trait associated with that label. He exhibits pettiness, petulance, partisan pandering.

He attacks Democrats and the media. He denigrates governors who are on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.

This is not how a president who seeks to lead and unify a nation under siege is supposed to act.

It doesn’t matter to this president. He cannot lead. This individual who brought not a single moment of public service experience to the only political office he ever sought is demonstrating what many of us feared all along … that he isn’t up to the job.

Media deserve bouquets, not brickbats

Donald John Trump is so very fond of bashing the media, those whose duty is to report to the public about how well — or poorly — government is functioning.

Yeah, he tosses the occasional compliment, then follows that with the usual rants about “fake news” and “low ratings” and other crap designed to denigrate the Fourth Estate.

I want to sing the media’s praises especially for the way they have been covering the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve been trying to think back to any story that has dominated our airwaves and our printed pages the way coronavirus outbreak has done. The media, for their part, are covering this crisis about every way imaginable. They are doing so in ways I never would think of were I in a position to assign reporters to cover the story.

Trump’s anger at the media rests, in my mind, on the notion that the media aren’t swallowing the nonsense he spews — and the lies he tells — about the “fantastic” job he and his team are doing. They are seeking to fill in the spaces left open by the president and his team.

Trump says the disease is “under control.” The media go to expert sources who report that, nope, it’s untrue. The disease is far from being controlled, contained or confined.

The media’s reporting of seemingly separate stories are tied in varying ways to the coronavirus crisis.

That’s OK with me. The media are doing the job they are empowered to do. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects them from government interference. Over the generations since the founders wrote the amendment, it has been generally accepted that the Constitution also offers a shield against politicians’ bullying and coercion.

Donald Trump’s constant criticism is blatant form of bullying that cannot be tolerated. He won’t stop the attacks, given that they play well to the ignorant wing of his political base, the know-nothings who believe Trump’s ridiculous assertions that “fake news” is actually false, when in reality it merely is news that isn’t favorable to their hero.

The media are doing a great job covering a story that needs a free press now more than ever.

In need of a respite from this madness

I am in desperate need of a respite, a break, a breather from the madness that has overtaken Planet Earth.

We’re caught up in this pandemic crisis. The coronavirus is killing thousands of human beings each day now. We hear glimmers of good news: the death rate is slowing in Italy, as are the new cases of infection; China is reporting no new cases; same with South Korea.

Here, though, in the U.S. of A., our infection rate is still accelerating. So is our death rate.

All in all, the media are doing a stellar job of reporting it to us. We’re being kept informed. I want to stay informed. I need to know whether my family is safe from this disease and I am relying on the media to tell me.

That all said, I need some relief from what is inundating us.

The Internet keeps me plugged in 24/7. I’m fine with that. I can turn it on — or off — as the spirits move me.

At this moment, the spirits are telling me to turn it off for a while.

Heaven knows the president of the United States, the fellow elected to lead us through crises such as this, isn’t doing his job. He’s blathering, spitting out lies and half-truths while expecting us to ignore their obvious fakery. Maybe that’s the source of my need for a break. I cannot listen to him.

So, I’m going to take a break. I don’t know how long it’ll last. Probably not long. I could return damn near any minute after I post this item. It’s a combination of what I call “pandemic fatigue” and profound disgust at the lies I keep hearing from Donald Trump.

For now … I’m out. See you on the other side.

Time of My Life, Part 47: 9/11 changed the dynamic

Events can shape people’s lives and even influence the direction their careers take.

The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 was a date that changed damn near everything in this country, not to mention the career I had chosen to follow.

I cannot prove this with actual, tangible evidence. It’s an anecdotal thing, to be truthful. But the 9/11 terror attack opened the floodgates for me as an opinion writer and editor.

I was working on 9/11 as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. I got word of the attack from a colleague who stuck his head into my office to ask if I had heard about the plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Well, the rest is history, right?

One element of that momentous day was the absolute flood of issues on which we could comment at the Globe-News. It never stopped after that terrible moment in our history.

There had been times in the years preceding 9/11 when I had to look for issues on which to offer editorial comment. As they say in the news business, “There are good news days and bad news days.” The good news days always gave opinion editors grist on which to comment; the bad days forced us to look for that grist.

The post-9/11 era — which lasted essentially for the duration of my career a dozen years later — often filled me with the greatest dilemma an opinion editor could face: too many topics on which to comment. 

There were a lot of days when I would go to work and have to face a decision. What issue can we set aside for another day? Think about that. I seemed to never face the problem of having to look for ways to fill that space on our opinion page with editorial commentary.

It was a curious phenomenon that I cannot quite explain even to this day. It just happened. The world was changing. The nation went to war against international terrorism. That era spawned issues that demanded leadership from newspapers that at that time were still considered beacons for their communities.

I hated the circumstance that caused that phenomenon to occur. However, I was oddly grateful that it did occur and gave me a treasure trove of topics on which to comment.

Those were the days, man.

Keeping the streak alive

I’m on a roll. Actually, I’m on fire!

I just recorded my 265th consecutive day of posting items on High Plains Blogger. I once had a lengthier streak than the current one, but it was snapped because of a technical malfunction on the platform on which I publish these musings.

I went a day without being able to post a blog. That was, well, 265 days ago!

I’m at it again. A dear friend of mine in Oregon has told me of her “awe” at the prolific amount of items I post daily. I don’t consider it worthy of anyone’s “awe.” I appreciate the good word, though. I long have stated that I am an expert at nothing, but I do have a lot of opinions on a lot of matters.

I also do not shy away from my bias. I admit to having it. We all have bias, even when we don’t acknowledge it in ourselves. Of course, I certainly recognize it in others who do not share my world view of politics or public policy.

I suppose this is all just my way of saying that High Plains Blogger has allowed me to stay more or less in the game. It allows me a forum on which to vent about this and/or that, about those who influence policy and also about slice of life issues that grab my attention.

I also want to say “thank you” to those who read these items. I also want to offer special thanks to those of you who share them with your social media network friends, family and acquaintances.

Moreover, I also want to thank the critics out there who take me to task. Believe me when I say this: You keep me humble.

Media become ‘straw man’ for Trump, supporters

I want to push back against those who have taken to blaming the media for Donald Trump’s wholly inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the New York Post, posited an opinion that the media are more interested in taking Trump down than on reporting the facts. Goodwin writes:

In the real world, events are unfolding at a pace and scale impossible to comprehend. But at too many news outlets, the aim is not to inform. It is to render the harshest possible judgment on the man journalists love to hate.

Goodwin’s mind- and heart-reading ability must be astonishing in the extreme. To my way of thinking, he is letting his own bias get in the way of anything sort of rational analysis.

The media are trying to pry the truth out of a president who so far in his term in office has demonstrated incessantly an inability to offer the truth. Reporters and editors deal with truth. It is what they peddle as they seek to chronicle the news of the day, to inform the public about what their government is doing for them or, sadly, to them.

The coronavirus pandemic has gotten away from the federal government. It is running rampant now throughout the nation. We haven’t seen the worst of it. My hope and the hope of all our citizens — and that includes media representatives — is that we’ll get to the worst far sooner rather than later. Then maybe we can start to return to some semblance of normal life.

The media’s task is to tell the public whether their government is doing what it can to make that happen.

Donald Trump just happens to be the head of the executive branch of government. He hasn’t performed adequately. The media are reporting on his decisions and the processes that lead to them.

Do the media’s reports flatter the president? Do they gloss over the actions he has taken or failed to take? No and no. Is the media’s responsibility to cast the president in a positive light? No. Their responsibility is to tell us the truth.

Period.

I’ll provide Goodwin’s column here. I also will stand by my pushback against those who seek to blame the messenger who insists on doing an unpleasant job, which is to deliver bad news.

Is the president a ‘heartless imbecile’? Yes, but …

You know what they say about things that come after the word “but.” It’s likely to change the nature of what comes before it.

A gentleman I do not know personally, but who reads High Plains Blogger, took me to task for a recent post I wrote about Donald John Trump. This fellow believes I never give Trump any credit for anything.

Actually, I have. I mentioned my stated support of the president’s criminal justice reform ideas and the military strike he launched against Syria. I also mentioned the rare instances in which Trump has acted and sounded “presidential.”

My critic believes I consider Trump to be a “heartless imbecile,” to which I answered: Do I think he’s a “heartless imbecile”? Yep. I’m afraid so … until he proves me wrong. It’s possible, you know.”

Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous. So far, he has been a heartless imbecile, but … here it comes, that could change if Trump would take just a few small steps toward decency.

He could stop blaming all the things that go wrong on his watch on everyone else. He should stop blaming President Barack Obama, for instance, for enacting measures that Trump says incorrectly have slowed down the national response to the pandemic. While he’s at it, he should take ownership of the decision he made to dismantle the National Security Council task force designed exclusively to deal with pandemics — like the one we’re enduring at this moment!

Trump could stop heaping praise on himself and taking credit he doesn’t deserve. He should focus instead solely on the problem at hand and deal forthrightly with those problems.

Trump could actually apologize for the “heartless” and “imbecilic” comments he made about the cruise ship he didn’t want to dock in Oakland, Calif., out of concern that the infected passengers on board would drive up his “numbers.” I know that’s a non-starter, given that Trump doesn’t apologize for anything.

The president needs to act presidential. That would do it. That would compel me to shed much — but not likely all — of my antipathy toward this guy.

Donald Trump needs to stop attacking the media. The men and women who report the news are simply doing their jobs. They do not work for the president and he needs to understand their role in keeping government accountable to the people who pay the bills. You and I are the bosses … not Donald Trump. He works for us.

So, there you have it. The “but” has yet to materialize. It might. I am just not going to wait for it.

Trump resumes feud with media

Well, that was a nice break while it lasted.

Donald Trump took time the other day to offer a good word about the media and their work in covering the coronavirus pandemic. It gave some of us a glimmer of hope that the president was finally beginning to act the part he portrays.

Silly us. He resumed his feud today, blasting the “fake news” the media purportedly conveys. He blasted The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, all of which are great newspapers full of dedicated journalists who do their job to the best of their considerable ability.

None of that matters to this president, who passes judgment on media outlets based on whether they report “positive” news about his administration.

Yep, the feud is back on.

Disgusting.

Media earn a shout out on pandemic coverage

I imagine you’ve heard the gripes, mostly from conservatives, who bitch about the media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

They complain that the media are covering this matter so intensely for the so political harm to Donald John Trump

Their complaints are without basis. They are dubious in the extreme.

The media have done a spectacular job covering this crisis. And it is a crisis, no matter how many times some of our political leaders — such as The Donald — might seek to understate its impact on the world.

The media coverage arc has tracked like many of these events often do: They report on an incident, give it the attention it deserves; they follow its progression, then report on increases of incidents; then the story explodes when governments start reacting to the increasing instances of illness … and death.

The World Health Organization has weighed in with a declaration that the coronavirus outbreak has reached pandemic status, which quite obviously is a major development. The media have covered the WHO involvement carefully and thoroughly.

What’s more, the media have explored the nuts and bolts, the ins and outs, the zigs and zags of this issue from damn near every angle imaginable. There are quite likely to be even more angles to cover.

As for the political impact, well, let me just declare that the media only have reported the stumbles, bumbles, bungles that have come from the U.S. government’s highest levels. There can be no way for the media to paper it over. Has it harmed Donald Trump? Yes, more than likely. Is it the media’s fault? Hell no! The media are simply the messengers delivering the news.

So it has gone. The media are charged with the responsibility of chronicling what government does for us … and to us. The Constitution protects the rights of a “free press” and the media seek to be true to the document that informs government that it cannot interfere with or manipulate them.

The media will continue to do their job as the pandemic likely worsens. They will report to the world what they see without regard to the political consequences, which are of no concern to journalists who simply are doing their job.

Still ‘no!’ on last-word duels

Four years ago I posted an item that talked briefly about my reluctance to engage readers of this blog or other social media acquaintances in a battle of wits.

I wrote: I’m leaning against a possible Last Word Contest with those along my social media network who suffer from the last-word addiction. My sense is that they have more staying power than I do when they engage others — such as me — in these idea exchanges, which is why they’re addicted … and I’m not.

Then again, I could change my mind. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Well, I haven’t changed my mind. My reluctance to engage in such repartee remains as staunch as ever.

I’ll have to admit to something in that regard: I am not smart enough or witty enough or my mind isn’t as facile as others who can’t get enough of this kind of back/forth.

High Plains Blogger allows me to vent. It provides me a forum to express my views on a whole array of issues. It also allows me to talk about matters some might consider trivial; the Puppy Tales series about our beloved pooch Toby, to cite one example. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I feel like writing. Got it? Good!

As for the last-worditis that afflicts some folks, I know who they are. They know who they are. One of them who sadly recently passed away used to acknowledge my reluctance to engage him in a discussion. I wouldn’t answer his acknowledgement, which I suppose is my way of staying faithful to the personal pledge I made to avoid that kind of (what I consider to be) nonsense.

Part of my increased reluctance has been the intensely personal nature of the volleys that participants fire at each other. One of the goals I have managed to meet with this blog is that I do not launch ad hominem attacks at individuals simply because they disagree with whatever flies off my keyboard and into cyberspace. Consequently, with only very few exceptions, critics of this blog have been relatively high-minded in their responses, although some of their critics have accused them of taking cheap shots.

That’s when it gets nasty. And personal. I watch these rhetorical fire fights from a distance and experience what I only can describe as a sort of out-of-body episode.

But this blog will trudge on. I am proud of it. I enjoy it beyond measure. It gives me relief … even if some folks want to goad me into a battle of wits.

Sorry. You’re outta luck.