Category Archives: media news

Press aide goes for the throat against media

Now she’s done it.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the fiery White House press secretary, has now accused journalists and their bosses of “deliberately” reporting false news stories to advance an agenda.

Think of this for a moment. This is the White House’s front person with the media, the person who is supposed to develop a healthy professional relationship with those who report on the goings-on within the White House.

And by “healthy,” I don’t mean necessarily an always-positive relationship. “Healthy” implies that a certain two-way respect between sources and those who report on what they say and do.

The media-White House relationship should be listed in critical condition. At best.

White House at war with media

I am presuming that Sanders is speaking for Donald John Trump when she makes such hideous assertions. What she has done on the president’s behalf is accuse these professional journalists of violating the very tenets they vowed to uphold when they signed on to their craft.

Sanders said the media are “purposefully misleading the American people” by publishing and broadcasting reports that reporters and editors know are false.

I toiled in journalism for nearly four decades. Did I make mistakes while reporting the news? Sure I did. Did I correct them? Yes. Were any of them the result of some intent to advance a political agenda? Never.

I know I am speaking only for myself. I cannot know how others did their job, except that I always have accepted that other mainstream journalists adhered to a pledge that they would report truthfully and fairly.

To hear the White House press secretary assert that White House beat reporters are acting with deceit and dishonor is beyond offensive.

They have initiated a change in our culture

Time Magazine has done it!

The publication has hit a grand slam home run with its selection of its 2017 Person of the Year — and, no, Donald J. “Grandstander in Chief” Trump, it ain’t you!

It selected the Silence Breakers, the women who came forward to found a movement called “Me Too” to sound the alarm against sexual predators.

The magazine’s cover features several women who have been at the forefront of this movement. In reality, they symbolize a much larger segment of a population that has been terrorized by powerful men.

And the movement has inflicted plenty of casualties in this fight against sexual harassment, abuse and predation. Good … for … them!

Media stars have tumbled off their pedestals. Politicians have fallen, too. Movie and music executives stand accused. Careers have been trashed — and deservedly so!

Read about the Silence Breakers here.

The Person of the Year goes to individuals or groups of individuals who have made a profound impact on our world. It has gone to some notorious and downright evil monsters: Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and the Ayatollah Khomeini come to mind immediately.

This year? The Silence Breakers symbolize maximum courage and grit in the face of a culture that for too long looked the other way as men preyed on their victims.

Great call, Time.

Trump is ‘talking past the sale’

A former boss of mine had a saying — perhaps he still says it — that overzealous advocates had a habit of “talking past the sale.”

He meant it to suggest that someone who had a point to make could have stopped trying to make it long ago.

Thus, the president of the United States is “talking past the sale” as it regards a network news broadcast journalist’s erroneous report regarding Michael Flynn’s admission that he lied to the FBI about his contact with Russian government operatives.

ABC News suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay after he reported erroneously that Trump instructed Flynn to talk to the Russians while he was running for president; in fact, Trump’s instruction occurred after he was elected, which puts the issue in an entirely different context.

ABC News acted. Ross is off the air for a month — or perhaps longer. The network policed itself. Trump, though, is not letting it go. Oh, no. Now the president is urging “investors” to sue the network for reporting “fake news.”

C’mon, Mr. President! Let … it … go, will ya?

The network has taken ownership of its mistake. However, Ross has given Trump plenty of ammo to keep up his “fake news” barrage against all the media outlets that cover the news — except, of course, Fox News, which caters to the president’s insatiable appetite for “positive news.”

Trump is delivering yet another example of how he doesn’t understand curious relationship between the media and the government. Yes, reporters make mistakes. Some of them are grievous errors, which I consider Ross’s blunder to be.

The president of the United States, though, need not spend a moment more of his time on this matter. He’s got plenty of serious issues on his heaping plate to consume his attention.

Trump’s lawyer did … what?

Donald Trump might need a new lawyer.

The guy he has hired to represent him in this “Russia thing” investigation has done something that, according to an ethics counsel who worked for President George W. Bush, should qualify him for disbarment.

Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, allegedly wrote this in a tweet: I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!

What’s in play here? The lawyer supposedly wrote a tweet that contradicts something Trump had said earlier, that he fired former national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the vice president. He made no mention earlier of his lying to the FBI.

Now it’s Richard Painter, who served President Bush as ethics lawyer, who has weighed in. Painter, no friend of Donald Trump, wrote: “A lawyer who writes a tweet like that incriminating a client should be disbarred. He can tell (special counsel Robert) Mueller he wrote it.”

Of course, this all presumes that Dowd actually wrote the tweet. I am just going to state up front that I don’t believe that Dowd wrote it. Painter is likely correct to presume that a lawyer who would actually send something like into universe isn’t smart enough to operate under a law license.

I don’t know the first thing about John Dowd, but I am going to make an assumption that he’s probably alert enough to avoid something so stupid.

What still might need explaining, though — if Dowd didn’t write the tweet — is why he would fall on the grenade in the first place.

Taking the fall for doing something he might not have done is pretty stupid, too.

But if he did … then why in the name of presidential stupidity would Donald Trump allow someone else to use his Twitter account to incriminate him?

Network does well to police itself

I am quite certain Donald John “Fake News Maven” Trump is going to crow like a rooster over this bit of news.

Let’s try to put this into a bit of perspective.

ABC News has suspended veteran correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for reporting erroneously on the Michael Flynn guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump transition team.

It might be that Ross will be canned soon. You see, this isn’t the first time Ross has stepped in it on the air. In 2012, he reported that a suspect in the Aurora, Colo., massacre was a member of the Colorado TEA Party; he wasn’t.

ABC takes care of problem

But here’s my point: ABC is doing its due diligence in policing its personnel. It’s what responsible media companies do, despite the howls we’re going to hear from those on the far right about “fake news.”

Ross went on the air to report falsely that “candidate” Donald Trump had instructed Flynn to make contact with Russian government officials. Actually, that instruction came after Trump had been elected president; thus it came from the president-elect, which is a significant difference from it coming from a mere presidential candidate.

ABC said its reporter had failed to check his sources adequately and that he “fell far short” of the standards the network has set for its reporting staff.

I accept that mea culpa as sufficient evidence that the network has taken ownership of its mistake.

As for Ross, who carries the title of “chief investigative reporter” for ABC News, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised — or disappointed — if he is shown the door at the network.

This kind of mistake — and the sanction that has followed it — are going to tar Ross’s work for as long as he continues to pursue what many of us still consider to be an honorable craft.

Donald Trump: man with all the wrong responses

Leave it to Donald John “Fake News Conspirator in Chief” Trump to say precisely the wrong thing in the wake of a growing scandal involving men who have been accused of mistreating women.

NBC News announced that “Today” co-host Matt Lauer got canned because of alleged “inappropriate sexual behavior” with female colleagues.

How does the president respond? With a tweet, of course: “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” he wrote on Twitter. “But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

Lack is the president of NBC News and the man who announced Lauer’s firing this morning prior to “Today” going on the air.

Trump’s obsession with what he calls “fake news” would be laughable, were it not that the president himself is the No. 1 purveyor of outright lies and phony conspiracies.

Of course, the president isn’t going to offer any kind of cogent comment on the issue that took Lauer down, given his own problems in that regard.

Thus, he is left to blather about something that has no connection to reality.

Stupid.

Mind-boggling series of events keeps head spinning

My mind is officially boggled.

I awoke this morning, looked at my social media news feed and saw that NBC fired “Today” co-host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual conduct.” It didn’t end with that stunning announcement.

Later today, I saw that NPR icon Garrison Keillor also has been let go by the public radio network for, um, similar conduct.

This is getting even more stunning than it was before.

NBC went straight for the throat in canning Lauer. The network didn’t wait for any further substantiation of the allegation that came from a network colleague. At this moment, I don’t even know the particulars of what the woman accused Lauer of doing to her.

The network acted immediately on hearing what I am going to presume it believes was a credible accusation.

Network news icons are falling like tall timber. Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor. Those are just the biggest of the big names. Then we have the likes of Mark Halperin and Glenn Thrush who have lost their jobs over accusations of misbehavior with women.

When is this going to end?

I haven’t even mentioned — until this very minute — the accusations that have sullied the reputations of political leaders. It’s a bipartisan affliction.

I’m beginning to think that employers will need to revamp the applications they ask prospective employees to fill out. Many businesses ask applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony. That’s fine.

They will now likely have to ask: Have you ever committed an act that someone could construe to be sexual harassment … or worse?

This wave of dismissals amid accusations looks for all the world like a purging that needs to occur.

Happy Trails, Part 58

Here it comes.

My wife and I are about to enter a critical new phase in our post-retirement journey.

This is big, man! Huge! There’s no turning back from this one!

Very soon, movers are coming to our house and are going to haul our possessions off to a storage unit in downtown Amarillo, Texas.

Why is this so huge? Well, it means we have nowhere other than our recreational vehicle to sleep at night. It means we’re officially living in our RV. It becomes officially a full-time gig.

We are parked at an RV park just off of Interstate 40.

Once we clear this next big hurdle, which will be … uh … very soon, then we commence the next big challenge. That will involve getting a real estate agent to the house to give us a candid assessment of what we should ask for the place we used to call “home.”

Retirement came in an unexpected fashion to me. It arrived five years ago in a moment I was only half-expecting. I smelled a rat when my employer announced a “reorganization” effort was underway. When I learned that the “new direction” my employer was going wouldn’t include me, I resigned immediately. Then I worked a few part-time gigs, even as I applied for Social Security retirement income commencing when I turned 66.

As I look back on that moment in my life, I realize now how simple it was to transition from full-time to part-time work. There were plenty of opportunities for me to pursue elements of the career I had enjoyed for nearly four decades.

None of it matched the challenge that is about to come our way as we prepare to vacate permanently the house where we lived for 21 years.

Here, though, is the really good news: I am ready for it.

POTUS declares war on media

It’s been on-going ever since Donald John Trump declared his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

He’s been at war with the media that seek to report the news relevant to his campaign and now, his presidency.

As Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican Party political activist, has noted: Trump now has all but declared Fox News to be the state’s official news medium. Why is that? Because Trump just relishes the network’s obvious bias in his favor.

Other media outlets? They’re all the “enemy of the American people.” The president, with his alarming and frightening petulance toward the rest of the media, has broken with a couple centuries’ worth of tradition involving presidential relationships with a free press.

Consider, too, the words of a longtime public servant who now works as a “contributor” to CNN. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden — the former head of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency — laid it on the line.

Hayden fires back at Trump

Hayden wrote this on Twitter: “Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.”

Think not just of what Gen. Hayden said, but also consider that this man would say it. Michael Hayden served with distinction and honor under presidential administrations of both major political parties.

Hayden was responding to this tweet from Trump: “Fox News is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.”

I get that Trump gored Hayden’s proverbial ox with that ridiculous message. However, I believe Hayden’s description of Trump’s view of the media is correct. He is conducting an “outrageous assault on truth, a free press” and, yes, on the First Amendment.

This individual, the president of the United States, is a disgrace to the high office he occupies.

Trump keeps diminishing the presidency

Now it’s CNN’s fault. The news network is doing a poor job of “representing” the United States of America around the world, says the president of the United States.

There you go. It’s not the president who’s representing the greatest nation Earth. The man says it’s CNN’s responsibility.

Hey, Mr. President. It’s your job! You’re the man whose job is to carry the U.S. torch around the world.

Donald John Trump had tweeted a message extolling how Fox News is more important than CNN. Imagine my (non)surprise with that one, if you can. Fox’s commentators are among the president’s major media fans. They speak glowingly of him, so that means Fox is the go-to media outlet in Trump’s view.

He fired off that tweet about CNN. The network answered the president, telling him that it’s CNN’s job to “report the news” and that it’s Trump’s job to be the nation’s standard-bearer.

A man who understands the presidency would know that. Someone with any knowledge of the institution he now leads would grasp the importance of the office, the majesty it commands and the decorum that’s required of the individual who occupies it.

Trump doesn’t get it. He likely never will. He’ll continue to engage in petty, stupid, insipid Twitter tirades.

He’ll continue to diminish his office.

So very sad.