Category Archives: media news

By all means, purge ‘fake news’

Our nation’s “liar in chief” has asked whether a Facebook plan to purge itself of “fake news” means that CNN could be going out of business.

Donald John Trump asked this on Twitter: Facebook has just stated that they are setting up a system to “purge” themselves of Fake News. Does that mean CNN will finally be put out of business?

The president of the United States just cannot help himself, he cannot stop tossing around “fake news” epithets at media outlets whose only “sin” is to report news he deems to be “negative.”

More galling than that, of course, is that the president himself is the nation’s — if not the world’s — most egregious purveyor of actual fake news.

I mean, he makes things up. He pulls assertions out of thin air — or perhaps out of a certain body orifice — and blurts ’em out. He flings accusations at foes without any evidence; he makes claims of fraud where none exist; he foments falsehoods  (such as the birther lies regarding his immediate presidential predecessor).

And then he has the temerity to assert that media outlets — except for his “friends” at Fox News — spread fake news all around the world.

He stands behind campaign rally lecterns and bellows this and that about “fake news” and his faithful believers cheer him on.

Every single mention of “fake news” that flies out of this president’s pie hole only ratifies what millions of Americans know already.

Donald Trump is unfit for the office he holds.

Cruz had the paper’s nod, then he lost it

Six years ago, Ted Cruz scored a key endorsement from a major Texas newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.

He was the hometown guy, a Houston resident who had become Texas solicitor general. Then he knocked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst out of the saddle while winning the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary; he would win the Senate seat handily that year.

Six years later, Cruz has squandered the support of the Chronicle, which has “enthusiastically” thrown its support behind Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

At one level this is a big deal. The Chronicle’s editorial spells out why Cruz has disappointed the paper’s editorial board. He’s self-serving, overly ambitious, too intent on furthering his own political interests, he ignores Texas’s needs, he is a grandstander.

Read the editorial here.

The paper suggests that O’Rourke, a native of El Paso and a member of the U.S. House, might be “the next Bobby Kennedy.” The paper is impressed with O’Rourke’s enthusiastic campaign and his stated commitment to Texas and to Texans. It notes that O’Rourke has “strong opinions” but “reaches out” to those with whom he disagrees.

At one level, I welcome the endorsement. Then reality kicks in. Will a newspaper’s statement matter? Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked sand in the faces of editorial boards statewide in 2010. He said he wouldn’t meet with editorial boards, preferring to “speak directly” to Texans as he campaigned for re-election; newspapers across the state endorsed former Houston Mayor Bill White — and Perry still won by a double-digit margin.

That all said, it’s advisable to take the Chronicle’s endorsement with a degree of skepticism. I don’t doubt for a moment that the paper believes O’Rourke would do a better job in the U.S. Senate. I agree with the paper, which makes it credible to my eyes.

I want to take particular note of how Cruz has become a Trump acolyte — even after Trump hung the “Lyin’ Ted” insult on him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary; he also denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. O’Rourke is likely to serve as a necessary check on a president who presents a host of dangerous notions for Americans to ponder.

If only this endorsement can turn the tide. One can hope. I will do so.

Trump shows jaw-dropping lack of awareness

Donald John Trump continues to demonstrate a shocking, astonishing, dumbfounding, jaw-dropping lack of awareness and context.

A journalist who lived in the United States walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, is kidnapped and then butchered — while he was still alive. The journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was murdered because he challenged Saudi Arabian policy of intolerance against freedom of expression.

His murder has brought glaring worldwide attention to the open hostility that many governments have against journalists.

So, what does the president of the United States do? He goes to Montana to campaign for U.S. Greg Gianforte and then heaps praise on him for the “body-slam” he put on a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian in 2017.

Trump in effect condoned violence against the reporter, Ben Jacobs. By implication, he sounds for all the world as if he believes it’s OK for public officials to react with similar violence against media representatives.

Does this sound like a head of state who has any understanding or appreciation of the context of his comments? Does he understand what he’s saying and the potential implications of his condoning violence against those who simply are trying to chronicle the news to those who need access to information about their government?

This man disgusts me at so many levels …

But, what the heck. His base loves hearing the garbage that flies out of his mouth, which is the only consideration about which Donald Trump cares.

Divide-and-conquer POTUS is at it again

Leave it to the president of the United States to show us once again how little he cares about civility, collegiality and comity in our public discourse.

Yep, Donald Trump applauded a Montana congressman for — get a load of this — body-slamming a reporter in 2017.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, the state’s lone member of the House, is Trump’s kinda guy. That’s what Trump said at a rally in support of his fellow Republican, who this past year body-slammed reporter Ben Jacobs, who had the temerity to ask him a tough question. I mean, the nerve … you know?

Gianforte pleaded guilty to assaulting Jones and performed community service as part of his sentence.

Back to my point … which is that Trump clearly doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about all Americans, no matter what he says. He is talking exclusively to his base of supporters who share his perverted view of the media being “the enemy of the American people.”

Why do you think he got such a holler yesterday in Montana when he declared how Gianforte is his guy? “Any guy that can do a body-slam is my guy,” Trump said. Implied in his low-level praise of Gianforte is that he is especially proud of him for assaulting a reporter.

Trump is seeking to divide the nation and conquer the part of it that agrees with him and his wide range of idiotic notions. The rest of us, those who didn’t vote for him in 2016, those who gave Hillary Clinton that nearly 3 million-ballot cushion in the popular vote?

I believe the president of the United States is telling us to go straight to hell. 

Yep, that’s our president.

Critics keep us all humble

You know already that I love my calling as a blogger. What you might not know — at least not yet — is that I also love the critics who read this blog.

I’ll admit that my love for them is more of a “biblical” nature. But I love them nevertheless.

Back when I was working for a living, I found that critics performed a service for me. They kept me humble. They occasionally would chastise for something I wrote and then might offer a perspective I hadn’t considered. On the rarest of occasions, I might change my mind on an issue.

I also provided a service to them. I figure it was of a more health-related nature. They would read my columns or editorials that I authored for a newspaper and they would hyperventilate. Then they would call me up, chew my rear end out, have their say, hang up and perhaps feel better having gotten whatever bothered them off their chest.

I only can presume that I had oxygenated their blood sufficiently during their rants to cleanse their cardiovascular system.

Just don’t call me “Doctor,” OK? Fine.

My blog critics do the same thing for me and I do the same perhaps for them.

I don’t cherish these individuals, mind you. I accept that every commentator — whether he or she works for a publication or is “self-employed,” so to speak, as I am, cannot possibly please everyone who reads their words.

And yes, High Plains Blogger critics continue to keep me humble. I long have subscribed to the tenet of taking my work far more seriously than I take myself. That tenet holds true to this day.

Keep the criticism coming. Yes, I like the praise more than the criticism. The critics, though, keep me on my toes.

Melania: most ‘bullied person in the world’? Hardly

Nice going, Mme. First Lady. You have a perfectly noble and legitimate cause upon which to base your first ladyhood and then  you trample all over it with a weird assertion about how you are among the “most bullied” people on Earth.

I could not believe my eyes and ears when I heard about this from Melania Trump.

She told ABC News the following, according to CNN: “I could say I’m the most bullied person on the world,” Trump told ABC News in an interview during her first solo trip to Africa last week … . You’re really the most bullied person in the world?” asked ABC News’ Tom Llamas during the exchange. “One of them, if you really see what people saying about me,” Trump said.

She isn’t among the most bullied people on Earth.

I feel confident in making that counter claim. Mrs. Trump  married a man who would become president no doubt knowing full well what she was getting in the bargain. Indeed, Donald J. Trump has dished out all sorts of bullying insults on his way to the presidency and, of course, since he became the Bully-er in Chief.

The message that Mrs. Trump wants to send forth is designed to call attention to how social media have become a bullying instrument used against children. That is a noble cause and I applaud that effort.

However, for her then to internalize and personalize it in this manner by suggesting that she is among the world’s top victims of this (mis)behavior detracts from the seriousness of a totally serious cause.

I am amazed she would say such a thing.

Trump salutes ‘great friends’ at Fox

Take all the time you need to come up with an answer to this question: When was the last time you heard a president of the United States salute his “great friends” at a major mainstream media organization?

I know. You can’t remember it. Neither can I.

Yet there he was at an Iowa campaign rally, hollering about all his “great friends” at the Fox News Channel, which has become a sort of de facto state-run media outlet. Fox News is the preferred cable news and commentary network of Donald Trump. Why? Because its commentary gives the president a pass — virtually — on all the mistakes, missteps, misstatements and miscues he commits on a daily basis. Fox doesn’t call the president out on all the lies he tells, nor does it question the policy decisions he makes.

So the president has “great friends” there. He cited Jeannine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Steve Doocy and how they use the term “Dims” to describe Democrats. Funny, huh? Aww, not really.

The media aren’t supposed to be “friends” with politicians, let alone with presidents of the United States. They are charged with asking tough questions, of holding public officials accountable for their actions and rhetoric. Every president prior to Donald Trump has recognized that necessary role the media play in maintaining the strength of our system of government.

This guy, Trump? He labels tough questioners to be purveyors of “fake news” and relies on the feel-good “reporting” he gets from his “friends at Fox News.”

Very weird, man.

First-class wordsmith gets back in the game

I recently lamented the retirement of a man who has lent his wonderful written “voice” to the Texas Panhandle.

Jon Mark Beilue worked for the Amarillo Globe-News for 37 years before retiring in July from his post as a columnist. I have good news for readers of this blog: Beilue is getting back in the game, this time as a columnist for West Texas A&M University.

I want to share this bit of good news because I have used this blog to bemoan the gutting of the Globe-News — first by Morris Communications and then by the company that purchased the G-N a year ago from Morris, GateHouse Media.

WT announced Beilue’s new writing gig in a press release, which stated in part: “We are excited to welcome Jon Mark to the WTAMU family and to share his many talents with the people of the Panhandle,” Dr. Walter Wendler, University president, said. “West Texas A&M University has many interesting stories to tell, and there is no doubt that Jon Mark will tell them well.”

Read the entire WT statement here.

WT plans to distribute Beilue’s columns weekly to area newspapers. If the folks who run the Globe-News have a brain in their heads, they will make sure this fine journalist’s words are published on the pages of a newspaper in dire need of institutional knowledge of the community.

Beilue provides it. He lived his entire life in the Texas Panhandle, absent his four years as a student at Texas Tech University down the road a bit in Lubbock.

And as WT noted in its release: His talent with words is well known across the region and has been recognized at both the state and national levels as far back as the 1980s until his retirement in 2018.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Jon Mark Beilue is a community treasure. I am delighted to know that WT has decided to put him back on display.

Well done.

Reporter fired for wearing MAGA hat? Duh!

What in the name of MAGA-mania was this guy thinking?

A reporter for a Minnesota TV station was fired this past Thursday because he wore a Make America Great Again gimme cap … while covering a Donald J. Trump political rally in Rochester, Minn.

Yep, this guy violated what usually is considered a cardinal rule of journalism. You do not reveal your political bias while you are on the job reporting on political events.

KTTC-TV in Austin, Minn., has a policy that prohibits such blatant bias on the job. So, when James Brunner, a multimedia journalist for the station, showed up at a Trump rally wearing the MAGA hat, it went viral on Twitter. It got back to his bosses at KTTC. They fired him.

Holy cow, man!

I have long had my own political bias. Never did I display it while reporting on or commenting on the news of the day at any of the newspapers where I worked. Not in Oregon or in Texas.

I didn’t even plaster bumper stickers on my cars, which I also always assumed were against the rules. Interestingly, I did see some political bumper stickers on vehicles driven by non-newsroom employees at the Amarillo Globe-News, my last duty station before I retired; I always thought even advertising sales reps shouldn’t be allowed to display their bias on the job.

This fellow, Brunner, has learned a tough — but totally necessary — lesson about the fine line journalists must walk when they are on the job, reporting on politics and policy.

Can’t stop writing … the streak goes on and on!

I have to write a boastful blog post about … my blog.

I’ll be brief, but here goes.

I post High Plains Blogger via Word Press, a perfectly fine platform. It has begun reminding me daily that I am on a heck of a streak. As of today, I have posted blog entries for 711 consecutive days.

Let’s see, two years comprise 730 days, so I’m only 19 days away from establishing a two-year streak on this blog.

Some of my friends have expressed some measure of amazement that I post as much as I do on this blog. Some call me “prolific.” Some of them say they like what I have to say. Others say they dislike my point of view … but they read it anyway.

I’ve actually had a critic or two stop reading my blog items, only to return to reading them. They are quick to offer criticism; once in a while they might write something that supports what I might say, although those instances are less frequent than the criticism I get from them. One critic and I got into a snit and he said he was done with my blog. He was gone. Then he came back and he is among those critics who is quick to fire off a comment that takes me to task. Hey, that’s OK. It goes with the territory.

I just wanted to brag a bit that I’ve got a 711-day streak on the line. I intend fully to keep growing it for as long as I can continue to string sentences together.

For better … or worse.