Category Archives: media news

So … POTUS has this to say on this day

A brief reminder of the kind of man who occupies the presidency is in order.

It comes from Philip Rucker, a stellar reporter for the Washington Post, who posted this item on Twitter:

Just observing that this is the morning of Barbara Bush’s funeral in Houston and the official presidential messages so far are about “flunkies,” “drunk/drugged up losers” and “the horrible Witch Hunt.”

While the rest of the nation mourns the death and honors the glorious life of one of its most beloved public figures, Donald J. Trump resorts to his usual array of cyber-bullying, insults and petulance.

Disgraceful.

Hannity fluffs a basic tenet

Sean Hannity’s backside is in a bit of a sling for a reason that could have been dodged with a simple declaration. It would have been a painless admission.

The Fox News commentator was revealed this week to be a “secret client” of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, the guy who’s been involved up to his armpits in a sleazy tryst that the president allegedly had with Stormy Daniels, a porn star.

The conflict? Well, Hannity has spent a lot of air time on TV and the radio defending Cohen and Donald Trump.

And … he never disclosed that he had a professional relationship with Cohen. He never told his viewers of his clear conflict of interest. Hannity never thought it was necessary to put his defense of Cohen and the president in anything resembling a proper context.

I get that Hannity isn’t a trained journalist. He does participate in a form of opinion broadcast journalism with his nightly TV commentary show and his syndicated radio show. Thus, Hannity should be forced to operate under the rules of conduct that journalists are obligated to follow when they report or comment on the news of the day.

A simple declaration at the front end of every broadcast that features a defense of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump would be a simple task to perform.

One more thing: To its great discredit, the Fox News Channel says it stands by Hannity. The network that actually does employ legitimate broadcast journalists doesn’t see where its right-wing superstar has gone wrong.

Shameful.

The cat’s out of the bag, Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity isn’t a journalist. He’s a talking head with lots of opinions. He works for the Fox News Channel and has a radio show on which he gets to bloviate and bellow his right-wing screeds.

I don’t begrudge him that privilege. He’s even won some awards for his on-air work. He also has earned some condemnation for his promoting of false conspiracies, aka “fake news.”

Oh, but now we know that his defense of Donald J. Trump and his relentless attack on the FBI raid on Trump’s lawyer’s office has a qualifier that, um, should have been disclosed when Hannity began unloading on the FBI. Hannity and Michael Cohen, the lawyer in question, have a professional relationship.

Cohen also represents Trump. He paid out $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to keep the porn queen quiet about a tryst she had with Trump in 2006. The FBI is looking for more information relating to that payoff. So, it obtained a search warrant from a federal judge and seized some documents.

Hannity has gone ballistic over it.

But don’t you think viewers and listeners deserve to know about Hannity’s particular interest in this matter? The tenets of full disclosure require it. Journalists know it.

According to The Hill: Hannity downplayed his interactions with Cohen, asserting that he’d never formally represented him in legal proceedings.

“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective,” Hannity tweeted, adding that those conversations “dealt almost exclusively about real estate.”

Fine, young man. Any dealings with a lawyer in the news — let alone one who is involved in a sleazy, tawdry controversy involving the president of the United States — need to be disclosed to ensure that viewers and listeners can put what they’re hearing in a more complete context.

Not that it likely would matter to Sean Hannity’s fans in TV and Radio Land.

But, still …

‘Separation of church, state’ need not be written

I cannot let this one pass without offering a brief rejoinder.

Dave Henry, the director of commentary for the Amarillo Globe-News, offered this tidbit in a column Sunday about what is written in the U.S. Constitution.

His column dealt with myths and other untruths that show up on social media. He writes: The fake “City of Amarillo” Facebook page reminded AGN that, “The free press is a cornerstone of democracy.”

Is the free press a “cornerstone” of a republic? I hope so, because the word “democracy” is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, what is actually written in the U.S. Constitution – and what is not – does not matter anymore. For example, “separation of church and state.”

He quibbles correctly about whether the founders created a “democracy” or a “republic.” It was the latter, for certain.

But then …

Henry repeats a canard that needs some further explanation. He says the Constitution does not contain the words “separation of church and state.” True. But only as far as it goes.

What that remark — cited often by conservatives who keep arguing that it’s OK to teach religion in public schools — ignores is that the Constitution implies such a separation in its First Amendment. The founders didn’t need to write “separation of church and state” when they declared that Congress shall make no law that establishes a state religion. The prohibition against writing such a law translates quite nicely, in my humble view, to a church-and-state separation.

What’s more, the federal courts have upheld that standard repeatedly through countless court challenges over the course of, oh, 200 years.

I just have grown weary of the tired refrain that the Constitution needs to say something specifically in order to make an issue relevant. Church/state separation is covered by the nation’s governing document — even if it doesn’t say it in so many words.

Fox News seeks to become ‘fake news’ network?

I have to give credit to a Fox News reporter, Ed Henry, for seeking some answers from Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt.

Hey, if the network allows more of this line of questioning, it will become part of the so-called “fake news” cabal that Donald Trump keeps excoriating.

Henry interviewed Pruitt about the ethics controversy that is boiling at Pruitt’s feet. He and his wife rented a pricey condo from an oil industry lobbyist for $50 a night. Henry asked Pruitt if that is the way to “drain the swamp” that the president keeps insisting is part of his Washington, D.C., agenda.

Pruitt said the question “isn’t remotely fair.” Actually, it was totally fair. I give Henry great credit for standing up to this guy.

Pruitt is unfit for the job anyway. That he would be taking what amounts to a gift from a lobbyist who is trying to influence EPA policy smacks of maximum conflict of interest.

I know it. Ed Henry knows it. It well might be that the president knows it. However, Pruitt pushes back by saying a tough question isn’t “remotely fair.”

Pruitt doesn’t get it. I doubt he will. He needs to go.

As for Fox News and one of its top-gun reporters, well done.

Trump vs. Bezos, er … Amazon

Gosh, do you suppose just possibly the president of the United States is angry with Amazon.com because its owner, a guy named Jeff Bezos, happens to also own one of the nation’s leading newspapers — which has written deemed to be critical articles of the same president?

Let’s try to assess the real reason for Donald J. Trump’s anger.

He contends that Amazon is undercutting the U.S. Postal Service. He’s been tweeting his brains out over Amazon. It’s been Amazon this and Amazon that. He’s been browbeating and berating the company via Twitter.

I have to wonder out loud: Why hasn’t he gone after Facebook with equal ferocity, given that medium’s relationship with a company, Cambridge Analytica, that used Facebook customers’ individual data for political purposes — which allegedly sought to benefit the Trump presidential campaign?

Not a peep from POTUS on that one.

Amazon? That’s a different story.

Bezos’s newspaper, The Washigton Post, has been dogged in its reporting of matters affecting, let’s see, “the Russia thing,” Trump finances, the Cabinet shuffle, the chaos and confusion within the West Wing, Jared Kushner’s role as a Middle East peace broker … that kind of thing.

Trump keeps yapping that The Post is reporting “fake news,” which in itself is the height of irony, given that the president is the “purveyor in chief” of fake news. But … I digress.

Trump’s so-called anger with Amazon looks to be nothing more than a case of cyberbullying by the leader of the free world against an Internet mogul who moonlights as the owner of a first-class newspaper that doesn’t slobber all over the president to his liking.

Try to push another cause, Mrs. Trump

I’ve already spoken admirably of first lady Melania Trump’s call to end cyber bullying, even though I recognize — along with millions of others — that she needs to reel in her husband.

I hate suggesting this, but I now fear that the first lady’s effort — noble as it is — has become a lost cause.

She cannot speak on the issue anywhere in this country without being ridiculed by those who insist that Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is a form of cyber bullying. And it certainly qualifies as such!

Mrs. Trump made a mistake when she declared that to be her No. 1 priority for as long as she serves as first lady. She cannot control her husband. Hell, no one can control him!

The president continues to rail via Twitter against foes in this country. He chides his opponents and critics, often with intemperate language that doesn’t measure up to the high standards he should be setting as our head of state and government.

Trump made what sounded like a serious pledge when he said he wouldn’t tweet once he became president. It turned out to be yet another sham, another flim-flam … another outright lie!

And I fear that his lying has undercut his wife’s noble quest to protect our young people against cyber bullying that too often crosses the line of decency. Too many of them have harmed themselves grievously after they have been insulted and bullied via social media.

My request of the first lady: Give up that particular fight and turn to something else.

Donald Trump: Coward in Chief

You might not believe this, but it pains me to suggest the following.

The president of the United States is a coward. He is afraid to confront people who displease him. Thus, he relies on long-distance communications techniques to tell them, “You’re fired!”

I’m sure you remember now Donald J. Trump made “You’re fired” a phrase that took off throughout popular culture. He even developed that snake-like strike gesture with his hand in telling those on “Celebrity Apprentice” that they didn’t make the grade.

How does the man who now has become president handle these duties? He does it through other means.

He fired off a tweet announcing the firing of FBI Director James Comey while Comey was in California preparing to speak to law enforcement officials; he fired off another tweet to give Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the boot; he used the same medium to inform White House chief of staff Reince Priebus that he was out; most recently, he did the same thing while firing national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

What kind of CEO — which the president is — does such a thing?

I’ve always thought the boss summoned someone to his or her office, read the underling the riot act and then dismissed them summarily to their face. That would be a boss who’s worth a damn, someone who has the courage of his or convictions to speak candidly to someone who doesn’t do what the boss expects.

Trump doesn’t seem to operate this way. Now we’re hearing disputes over whether Shulkin resigned or was fired as VA secretary. Shulkin says he was canned; the White House contends he was resigned.

Of course, some politicians are weighing in. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told “Meet the Press” that “It’s not the way I’d do it,” referring to the manner that Trump used to dismiss Shulkin.

I guess Sen. Johnson believes Shulkin’s account of his departure from the VA.

Johnson, moreover, believes Trump’s childish and callous termination methods will affect recruitment of future administration officials. “I think the president does need to understand the effect it has on attracting other people,” Johnson said.

Gee! Do ya think?

Trump will continue to delude himself into thinking he’s running a tight ship, that he’s got everything — and everyone — under control.

He is wrong! He also is a coward!

Ingraham vs. Hogg: A foolish fight

David Hogg is one of those teenagers who has risen to the top of the public’s awareness in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre.

He is an articulate young man who’s become a leading spokesman for the survivors of the shooting that killed 17 students and staff members on Valentine’s Day. He has spoken eloquently about the need to end gun violence. The media have glommed onto Hogg and a few other of the leading student spokesmen and women who have emerged from this horrific tragedy.

He also has gotten involved in a silly dispute with a noted conservative columnist and commentator who had the bad taste to tweet something disparaging about Hogg.

Ingraham has since apologized “in the spirit of the Holy Week.” Hogg isn’t accepting here apology and is now mounting a boycott against her show, encouraging more advertisers to drop their sponsorship of her radio show.

Let’s hold on for a second.

This tears at my sensibilities. For starters, Hogg didn’t deserve to be called a “whiner” in Ingraham’s tweet, which was in response to something Hogg had said about being rejected by several universities despite his stellar 4.2 GPA at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He also has been accused falsely of being a “crisis actor,” someone hired to play the part of someone involved in a school massacre.

Then again, Ingraham’s apology was full-blown. She said she is sorry for any hurt she has caused among the “Parkland victims.”

If it had been me, I would have accepted her apology and then moved on. Hogg doesn’t see it that way. He said Ingraham apologized only because the advertisers were bailing on her.

Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill newspaper, says Hogg’s anger may be setting a potentially dangerous precedent if he persists on trying to end the career of someone who has said she is sorry and has admitted to making a mistake.

Read his analysis in The Hill here.

I have to concur with Concha’s analysis.

Hey, no one’s perfect, young man.

Blog passes milestone … holy cow!

I probably should wait to mark a blog-writing milestone, but what the heck … I thought I would do so today.

This is the 9,001st post I’ve published on High Plains Blogger. I was looking at some blog stats last night when I noticed I had hit the 9,000 mark, which I thought was rather remarkable.

I am telling people I meet that I am a full-time blogger. I get the question when I encounter strangers, who ask, “What are you doing these days?” It doesn’t pay much, but I hope to earn more income from this new “job” as we move forward.

I do consider it a job in the sense that I spend a lot of time during most given days putting my thoughts into my laptop and then posting them for the world to see.

There is no shortage of topics on which to comment. For that I thank Donald John Trump Sr. — among others — for providing me with plenty of grist on which to pontificate.

I won’t spend a lot of time with this post. You know already that I love this job. It provides me an outlet to vent, rant, rave and occasionally sing the praises of … people and events.

OK, we’ve passed the 9,000-post mark. I’ll likely weigh in when we get to No. 10,000.

For now, I’m out and on to the next thing.