Category Archives: media news

What about all those other important matters, Mr. POTUS?

I accepted long ago that Donald J. Trump prefers to communicate with Americans via Twitter. He does so frequently and too often inarticulately. His syntax is mangled. He can’t spell his way out of a wet paper bag.

But I get why he prefers that medium to talk to us. It’s unfiltered. Boy, howdy, is it ever unfiltered.

Here’s the question of the day. This individual is the president of the United States, someone with a heaping plate of issues, crises, challenges and opportunities to confront. Why in the name of good government does he spend so much Twitter energy commenting on the media, Robert Mueller, a phony “witch hunt,” or anything having to do with issues from which he claims to be “totally exonerated”?

He launches these tweet storms, attacking everyone under the big, bright sun. Where are the policy pronouncements about, let’s see — Earth Day, Social Security, national security, medical research, international terrorism, gun violence, church burnings in Louisiana (allegedly started by racists)?

You know, these issues are worth the president’s Twitter time. They’re more worth his time, energy and attention than the media and the bogus claims of “fake news,” not to mention Robert Mueller. I mean, c’mon, Trump says Mueller declared there was “no collusion, no obstruction.”

Yeah, I know. Those are highly debatable, but a president who declares extreme comfort in the moment shouldn’t be acting like someone who’s under extreme distress.

Donald Trump won’t stop using Twitter, so I won’t urge him to do so.

However, for the sake of being taken seriously, POTUS needs to redirect his social media attention to issues that matter.

You can resign now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Let’s see now. How is this supposed to go?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press flack, is supposed to deliver briefings to the media covering the White House. And the media representatives gathered before her are supposed to accept what she says as the truth.

Is that how it works? Even after special counsel Robert Mueller’s damning report has revealed Sanders to be as terrible a liar as her boss, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump Sr.?

In no way can Sarah H. Sanders continue in her role as the spokeswoman for the White House. She needs to quit.  She needs to disappear from the White House Press Briefing Room. She needs to no longer speak publicly about policy matters relating to the commander in chief.

She cannot be trusted any more than her boss, the most untrustworthy man ever to sit in that big ol’ chair behind the Oval Office desk.

Sanders was quizzed on morning news talk shows this week after  Mueller’s report went public. Mueller chronicles how Sanders lied to the media about the reasons Trump fired FBI director James Comey. She said at the time that “countless” FBI personnel had expressed dismay at Comey’s leadership. It wasn’t true. Mueller called her on it. When pressed by media reps, Sanders said she committed a “slip of the tongue.” She didn’t mean “countless.” Oh, but then she said later that “many” had spoken ill of Comey.

She is without trust. Sanders cannot speak with any veracity any longer.

It’s not that Trump deserves a truth-teller to speak for him. The man cannot tell the truth himself. Thus, he is getting what he deserves. The losers are members of the media, who report the news to the public.

If this individual, Sanders, cannot speak to the media directly, then her job is over. She has nothing left to do, nothing to offer.

You may quit any time, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Robert Mueller has revealed you to be a liar. In no way can you be trusted from this moment forward.

Reached the limit of anti-Muslim bigotry

I have just committed the rare act of disconnecting someone from my social media network.

Until just a few moments ago, we were “friends” on Facebook. I will concede that we aren’t close personal friends, although I know this person’s spouse quite well, as he served in local government for many years during my time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

What did this person do to incur my social media wrath? She posted a vile anti-Muslim meme, saying in effect that Muslims need to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Oh, yes. Feelings run high at times when we talk about those who believe in one of the world’s great religions. This one crosses the line. It goes way beyond what I consider to be anything close to reasonable.

I hereby am going to declare a state of proverbial “war” against those who post such things on my Facebook feed.

You are welcome to criticize this blog. I truly don’t object to that, although some of the personal criticism does sting a bit. Hey, I ask for it with some of my blog posts. I should be willing to take what I dish out, correct?

However, those who believe in a certain religious faith do not deserve to be treated in a hideous manner. My now former Facebook “friend” has revealed a terrible element in her emotional makeup. Therefore, I no longer will use my own social media network to spread such hate.

Her ghastly meme should have been targeted toward those who have perverted Islam. She didn’t do that.

She can consort with her fellow haters all she wants.

‘Fake news’ a product of Trump himself? Well, golly!

This is getting good.

As more details come out about special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report into collusion, obstruction and other matters, the more we learn about the “fake news” hoax that Donald Trump keeps alive.

Mueller seems to have concluded that the “fake news” Trump kept criticizing was quite true. The only fake news was coming from the Trump administration.

Imagine that, will ya?

Those of us who know better likely aren’t terribly surprised to hear this kind of thing from the special counsel. Trump is the godfather of “fake news,” given his own penchant for lying and as well as his defamation of others, such as lie he perpetuated about Barack Obama’s place of birth.

The matter about why he fired FBI director James Comey is a shining example of “fake news” originating from within the White House. White House press flack Sarah Sanders said Comey had lost confidence of his key aides within the FBI. Wrong! He was fired because of the Russia investigation.

Fake news!

Will any of this sink into Donald Trump’s thick, but vacuous skull? Heavens no! It still remains worthy of note.

Donald Trump is the King of Fake News. The media he loathes and calls the “enemy of the people” are doing what they need to do, which is expose Trump as the liar he has proven to be.

WH press flack: tailor-made for her job

Well now. What do you think about this?

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on his probe of The Russia Thing and alleged collusion and obstruction has disclosed that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is good at her job as White House press secretary.

By that I mean she is able to lie with a straight face. Just like her boss, the president of the United States.

It turns out that Mueller determined that Sanders lied when she told reporters that Trump fired FBI director James Comey because the FBI boss had lost credibility within the agency he led.

Her pants shoulda caught fire!

Lying ain’t cool

Comey had not lost any trust among his senior aides or rank-and-file agents. Trump fired him because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty to the president and wouldn’t go soft on his investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government operatives.

It turns out, too, that Sanders’s predecessor as White House flack, Sean Spicer, also lied about Comey’s performance as FBI director. So the two of them — Spicer and Sanders — appeared to do the president’s bidding.

The press secretary is ostensibly charged with telling the media the truth about what the executive branch of government is doing on our behalf. The press adviser talks to the media. He or she speaks for the president. The media then report to the nation and the world what the press secretary says on the president’s behalf. Yes, they question the press secretary, seeking answers to key questions.

The stories emanating from the White House, the press office and the Justice Department are getting murkier by the hour as the nation starts to digest the contents of the Mueller report.

We appear to be getting a clearer picture, though, of the individual who serves as spokeswoman for the president of the United States. Sarah Huckabee Sanders lies with the best of ’em.

Media merger in the works?

I cannot avoid a comment on what I perceive to be the slow, agonizing death of a newspaper that employed me for nearly 18 years before I was “reorganized” out of a job in the summer of 2012.

I noticed this week that the Amarillo Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal – two newspapers owned formerly by the same corporate owners – published identical editorials on the same day. Morris Communications sold its entire newspaper group in October 2017 to Gatehouse Media.

So, what’s going on here?

The Globe-News and the Avalanche-Journal are being run by a single publisher, one executive editor, one opinion page editor, one circulation director, one production director.

The opinion editor – aka the director of commentary – ran identical editorials in both papers that (a) congratulates the Texas Tech Red Raiders for their runner-up finish in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and (b) salutes the Wayland Baptist University women’s basketball team for its induction into the college basketball hall of fame.

I shall point out that the Texas Tech is based in Lubbock; Wayland Baptist is in Plainview. The Globe-News no longer circulates in Plainview; I do not believe the A-J does either.

I am left to wonder: What’s the story here?

I have lamented the lack of local emphasis on the editorial page of the paper that employed me and gave me the opportunity to serve as editorial page editor. The G-N used to cover the Texas Panhandle like a blanket. From Dalhart to Childress, from Perryton to Plainview. We even had an eastern New Mexico bureau in Clovis and our reach stretched into the Oklahoma Panhandle and even a bit into southwestern Kansas.

That was then. The here and now is quite different.

Morris Communications retrenched, reduced and redirected its diminishing resources inward before giving up the fight in the changing media climate. The Globe-News reporting and editing staff was decimated.

Gatehouse is now finishing what I believe began under the former corporate ownership.

Identical editorial commentaries on the same publication day tell me that Gatehouse – despite what it tells its readers – has no intention of serving these respective communities fully.

Gatehouse has vacated the Globe-News’s historic buildings and relocated into the FirstBank Southwest Tower. The old G-N site is up for sale. Its physical presence in the community has diminished right along with its news and editorial commentary influence.

It saddens me greatly to detect what I believe is happening.

Retirement hobby keeps juices flowing

Time for a quick update. Here goes . . .

This blog is on an 893-consecutive-day streak. I have posted items on High Plains Blogger for those many days in a row.

I have no intention of letting up.

I want to share (boast, if you don’t) some news with you.

  • March was the second-best month recorded by this blog in terms of page views and unique visitors. I am proud to make that announcement.
  •  The second-best month followed by the best month ever by just two months. High Plains Blogger posted its most productive month in January.

Those two record-setting months have set me up for another record year of page views and visitors. I intend to seek to keep the heat burning.

I have discovered a pattern as it regards these best-ever blog performances. They usually include some comment on local matters.

The January and March figures were driven by some posts I published concerning the resignation of an Amarillo High School volleyball coach. There is intense interest in Amarillo in what prompted Kori Clements to quit the AHS post after a single season. Her resignation letter was one of the more, um, declarative such statements I’ve ever seen. She blamed the school board and the administration for failing to back her as she fended off complaints from a parent who griped at her over playing time given to the parent’s daughter.

There will be more to come as developments warrant.

I also intend to keep the heat on Donald Trump and those who serve in the president’s administration. I want to emphasize what I believe is a critical point as I continue to comment: The president and his administration work for us, for you and me. The individuals who report to the president are not paid by him; they are not answerable ultimately to him.

We are the bosses. They all are our employees.

So, I’m heading for a 900-consecutive-day streak. I want you to stay with me. I also ask you to share these musings with those with whom you share social media networks.

There. Boasting is over. Until the next time.

Community icon up for sale . . . this is a shame

We have returned to the community we called “home” for more than two decades and I am saddened to know what I know about the place that provided me with a nice income — and untold joy — for most of that time here.

The Amarillo Globe-News building — indeed, the entire complex of buildings — is on the market. It’s being sold. To someone who will make use of the property on the black between Ninth and 10th avenues and Van Buren and Harrison streets.

The Globe-News has vacated the site, moving into an antiseptic suite of offices down the street and around the corner at the 31-story bank building that towers over downtown Amarillo, Texas.

I saw a social media post the other day that said McCartt and Associates, a big-time commercial real estate broker, has listed the G-N site.

I guess the powers that be didn’t take my advice. I sought in an earlier blog post to persuade Morris Communications Corp., which used to own the newspaper but which still owns the physical property, to donate the site to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, which could turn the property into — what else? — a museum honoring the rich tradition of print journalism in the Texas Panhandle.

I thought that Old Man Morris — William Morris III — could make good on his oft-stated pledge to support the community. Hey, here was his chance. He gave up on newspaper publishing, but he could have given the property to the PPHM to do something honorable and noble with a building that used to symbolize an honorable and noble craft.

Indeed, the Globe-News used to have a plaque on the side of one of its buildings honoring the work of the late Tommy Thompson, the iconic editor of the evening Globe-Times. All he did, of course, was win a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, which is the top prize offered by the top print journalism organization in the country, if not the world.

The Pulitzer jury honored Thompson for his dogged reporting in rooting out county government corruption. So he received the 1961 Meritorious Public Service prize.

I was proud to be associated with an organization that could claim such an honor. My association with the Globe-News ended in 2012. I held out hope that he paper would survive and be reborn in this changing media climate. I am fearing far less hopeful today.

Morris sold the paper to Gatehouse Media. The Globe-News’s reporting and editing staff has been decimated. Morris started the gutting years ago; Gatehouse is finishing the job.

Now the paper that once stood proudly on that downtown block is being offered to someone who will do something with the vacant hulk of a structure.

At least, though, those of us who have moved on will have our memories of the pride we threw into our work on behalf of the community we served.

Toughen up, Mr. President

Donald J. “Faux Tough Guy in Chief” Trump needs to toughen up, suck it up and go with the flow.

He won’t, of course. I just thought I’d admonish him anyway.

The president seems to want to take action against comedy shows (for crying out loud!) that make fun of him. “Saturday Night Live,” a show he says he doesn’t watch, is a favorite target of his threats of political revenge.

Trump talks tough. He bellows about how we oughtta take protesters out back and “beat the sh** out of ’em.” He sidles up to worldwide strongmen, while denigrating our own intelligence experts. Oh, and while he continues to pile on to the memory of a legitimate American military hero, the late John McCain.

He bullies his foes via Twitter, hurling insults and innuendo at them willy-nilly.

But the dude just cannot stomach the idea that others poke fun at him. Donald Trump is a wuss in wolf’s clothing.

I am reminded at this moment of a politician I used to cover when I worked in Beaumont as editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. The late U.S. Rep. Charles “Good Time Charlie” Wilson was an East Texas Democrat known for (a) his love of the military and (b) his desire to surround himself with attractive women.

Wilson also was an effective congressman who understood the role of the media that covered him. We covered his comings and goings at the Enterprise and on occasion we would chide him for things he would say or do.

We had a cartoonist on our staff, Jerry Byrd, who would illustrate our newspaper’s criticism with his editorial-page artwork.

What was Charlie’s response? How did he react? He would call us and ask us for the original cartoon so he could display it on his office walls in Washington, D.C., or in his district office in Lufkin, Texas!

Yep, Wilson was a grownup who knew that criticism from the media came with the job for which he took a solemn oath.

Donald Trump has yet to understand that truth about public service. I doubt seriously he’ll ever get it.

Conspiracy? Who’s got the time?

We’re hearing an increase in chatter out there about media “conspiracies,” about how the media conspire against conservative politicians, how the media undermine their policies.

Wow! How cool is that?

The president of the United States has been trumpeting the media conspiracy mantra of late. That’s his view. He’s entitled to it.

I feel the need to respond to it using my own frame of reference.

I worked in print journalism full time for nearly 37 years. I worked for newspapers that occasionally got tagged by readers who thought the paper was conspiring to shade the news in favor of certain segments of the community while ignoring other segments.

My response then was this: We don’t have time at our newspaper to conspire against anyone; conspiracies require time to think and plan such activities. Getting a newspaper assembled and pushed out the back door is damn near a miracle every single day. Who has time for conspiracies?

I believe that rationale works at some level in response to the president’s assertion that the media are conspiring against him.

I have heard the comments from the likes of former New York Times editor Jill Abramson who says her former paper forms its political coverage with a tilt against Donald Trump, that there is an anti-Trump bias in the NYT newsroom.

I just try to put myself in the shoes of the front-line reporters and editors who are concerned chiefly with just getting the paper published every day. Do they sit around and ask: How are we going to shade our coverage in a way that puts the president in the most negative light imaginable? I have trouble making that leap.

So the conspiracy talks continues. Maybe it’s just that I am inherently anti-conspiracy by nature.

My own experience working in regular communities in Oregon and Texas tells me that conspiracies require too much work among journalists who struggle with all their might simply at being good at their craft.