Category Archives: media news

CNN gets skewered for asking a legitimate question of POTUS

Jeremy Diamond is a fine young reporter for CNN, who on Sunday was doing his job while sitting in the White House press briefing room. His job includes asking probing questions of the man standing in front of him, the president of the United States.

Diamond happened to ask Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump why, in the face of a death count from coronavirus that topped 40,000 in the United States, he was congratulating himself for the “great job” he said he is doing. Diamond asked “Is this the time” for such “self-congratulation?”

That sent Trump into orbit. He said CNN delivers “fake news” and said he was speaking on behalf of all the first responders. He said Diamond doesn’t “have the brains you were born with.” Then he compared the treatment he allegedly gets from the press to what President Abraham Lincoln got when he ran for president in 1860. Good ever-lovin’ grief, man!

If you listen to Trump’s campaign rally-style riff at the briefing room, it is clear that he is speaking ofhimself and not of the men and women he purportedly was praising. Thus, Diamond posed a perfectly legitimate question of the individual who signed on to the presidency knowing he would be questioned aggressively by the media whose job is to hold him accountable for his actions.

Despicable.

Media deserve praise and credit, not criticism and condemnation

Earth to Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump: The media do not deserve the constant vilification heaped upon them during your so-called marathon “briefings” in the White House press room.

Trump did it again this past week, telling reporters assembled to hear him talk ostensibly about the administration’s coronavirus pandemic response that the media have ignored certain elements of the virus spread.

Specifically, he said the media haven’t reported on China’s misleading infection and death rates. Really? Is this individual serious?

The media have reported constantly on the misrepresentation being disseminated by China and for Trump to use that as an example of what he calls “fake news” is in itself, well, fake news.

Every single president who came before this one has suffered through “issues” with the media. However, they all understood — and he living former presidents still understand — the importance of a “free press” to the vitality of our political system.

The media work to keep government accountable. If they ask tough questions, then that just goes with the job of public service. Our elected leaders sign on to serve the public’s interests. If they fall short it falls on the media to report when and where those moments occur.

Donald Trump doesn’t see it that way. He wants the media to serve his interests exclusively. He demonstrates daily his ignorance of the media’s role and the importance the nation’s founders gave to it by guaranteeing that a “free press” shall not inhibited by government mandate or edict.

Still, the president’s penchant for lying to the public cannot go unchallenged. The media see their role as reporting that, too … as they most certainly should do.

Crisis producing a whole new category of hero

I am more than willing to admit that I do not like watching all this televised coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is non-stop, relentless and unforgiving. The news is mostly grim and it frightens me as I think of my family and wondering if they’re safe from the killer disease.

Now, is the entire coverage depressing and frightening? No. Much of it also is uplifting. I refer to the feel-good stories we get to see on TV or read in newspapers or online. They tell us about heroes and the truly magnificent heroic acts they are performing.

We need to effectively re-establish the definition of “hero.” The term no longer applies just to military personnel who thrust themselves into harm’s way; they aren’t just firefighters who rush into burning buildings to rescue people caught in the flames; or police officers who stop a criminal from inflicting havoc on a community.

Heroes now include doctors and nurses who are tending to infected patients. They work in nursing homes and assisted living centers tending to elderly residents who are highly vulnerable to the ravages of this disease. They are grocery vendors who deliver food to retail outlets to ensure that residents can purchase the goods they need just to get through the day or the week. Heroes are ambulance drivers, paramedics and utility workers who expose themselves to those in need … who well might be infected with the disease.

I also want to point out that the media that keep getting panned unfairly for the coverage they provide. We hear from those in the conservative media that their “mainstream media” colleagues are overhyping the danger being delivered by the virus.

The media that get vilified unjustly also are telling us regularly about the heroes among us. The media are reporting throughout the day the stories we want to hear, we want to see and about which we want to read. They are giving proper praise to those who are risking their lives to save the lives of others.

Although I am weary of the onslaught of grim news, I am strengthened by news of another sort. The heroes make me humble and proud of the work they are doing to serve all of our communities.

Pandemic coverage = failed prevention policy

Something occurred to me this week when I began reading the Dallas Morning News that my carrier tossed onto my driveway.

The newspaper’s front page story count was devoted totally to the coronavirus pandemic. Then I looked at some of the inside pages. Multiple pages contained full coverage of the pandemic. The editorial page also had many letters to the editor and opinion columns devoted to the pandemic.

Then the light bulb flashed on: When have we ever witnessed such wall-to-wall, 24/7, nonstop, relentless coverage of a single issue? I guess the last issue that did that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. That’s how big this pandemic has become.

Why mention this? Well, I also remember earlier this year when Donald Trump was downplaying the onset of the virus that he was highly critical of previous administrations’ efforts at handling earlier health crises. He mentioned the Ebola virus and the H1N1 outbreaks that dogged the Obama administration. He exerted a bit of effort to tell us that in his view President Obama did a lousy job of corralling those crises.

OK, but … did those crises dominate the media coverage — not to mention the top of everyone’s awareness — the way this pandemic has done? No. They didn’t.

What does that tell me? It tells me that those crises either weren’t as widespread as the coronavirus pandemic has become and that the Obama administration did a good job of stemming their impact on the population.

It also symbolizes and illustrates one of the fundamental points that Trump critics — such as yours truly — have made all along, which is that Donald Trump has fumbled bigly in organizing his administration’s response to the crisis.

I have to circle back to something Dr. Anthony Fauci said, which was that had there been a concerted early effort to “mitigate” the effects of the disease that we wouldn’t be in the pickle we’re in at this moment.

So, here we are … with a disease overwhelming the media’s daily coverage of the news of the day. That, I submit, is a consequence of an inept governmental response.

Trump sure to ramp up his war against ‘fake news media’

Donald Trump sought Monday to turn a White House “briefing” on the coronavirus pandemic into a campaign pitch for his re-election.

To their credit, two major cable news networks — CNN and MSNBC — decided that viewers did not need to see a propaganda video in place of what was supposed to be an analysis of the federal government’s response to the worldwide health crisis.

Fox News, of course, stayed with it, no doubt to Trump’s pleasure. That’s their call.

I want to applaud CNN and MSBNC for exhibiting sound news judgment in deciding that Trump’s self-aggrandization should not be part of a sober assessment of a health crisis that has killed more than 20,000 Americans and sickened more than a half-million of us; and be sure, those numbers might be far fewer than the reality, given the shocking shortage of testing equipment to determine the actual infection rate.

You can take this to the bank as well: Donald Trump is going to ramp up his war against what he labels falsely the “fake news media” outlets that refuse to pander to his every wish.

He doesn’t grasp — or refuses to grasp — the principle behind a “free press.” The principle that he ignores is that the media do not work for him; they work for the public.

That likely won’t stop the Imbecile in Chief from going ballistic against the media who, I hasten to add one more time, are just doing their job.

Social media produce schizophrenia

I made this discovery a while ago, but it’s worth sharing today. It is that social media have created a form of schizophrenia among those who are active on the various platforms provided by these outlets.

How does it present itself? Well, I have plenty of acquaintances around the world with whom I have had good interpersonal relations. That is, when we meet face to face we are cordial, even friendly when we interact.

Then when they sit behind a keyboard and send messages — even to me — they take on a different sort of personality. The Internet version of these individuals bears no resemblance to the person I have met and interacted with in the flesh.

Why is that? I suppose the physical distance gives them license to say things they otherwise wouldn’t say if we’re sitting across from each other over a meal.

Politics drives this sort of multi-personality trait I recognize.

I have friends who, to cite one notable example, are seriously avid fans of Donald J. Trump. I am an equally serious foe of Donald J. Trump. These friends and I have wonderful interpersonal relationships when we see each other. Then they choose on occasion to challenge my regular diatribes against the president. They write the most unusual things on various social media platforms, notably on Twitter and Facebook.

One friend actually decided to sever our relationship some years ago over a spat he got into with a member of my family; I believe Donald Trump was at the core of their dispute. They exchanged nasty rejoinders on Facebook. I took up for my family member. My friend didn’t like what I said. So … he “unfriended” me with an angry note that said, in effect, I could go straight to hell. 

He sort of proves my point. He never would have said such a thing to me in person. Indeed, I long thought we were pretty good friends, as we would meet on occasion for lunch in the Texas Panhandle. Then it was over. I think it was a schizophrenic response that took over his brain in the moment. Sadly, we haven’t revived our friendship. I fear it’s deader than dead.

It’s all part of what goes with the territory in this world of blogging … which I continue to enjoy greatly.

Oh, and just so you know, I try to avoid falling into the schizophrenia trap. I’ll let others be the judge on whether I have succeeded.

Time of My Life, Part 48: Still able to keep up with fast-paced story

I have returned to the game of print journalism, even if it isn’t daily print journalism.

Still, writing for a weekly newspaper presents a whole new set of challenges … such as trying to keep pace with a story that is changing damn near hourly.

Forgive the boast, but I am happy to report that I still am able to remain nimble enough to hit a fast-moving target.

The target is the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. They’ve declared it a worldwide pandemic. It is killing thousands of people daily.

How does that affect my freelance gig? The Farmersville Times covers a lovely community in Collin County, Texas, about seven miles east of where my wife and I live in Princeton; I write for the Times. I have spent the past few days keeping pace with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Farmersville.

I was assigned a story to write for the Times that looked at how the community’s first responders — namely firefighters and police officers — are coping with the pandemic. My initial story said there had been no reported infection in Farmersville.

Then it changed. Rapidly.

The publisher, my boss, notified me that Collin County Public Health officials reported several cases in Farmersville. I had to make contact with the police and fire chiefs for updated information. I was able to do so quickly. They provided the information I was seeking.

However, the story likely continues to move even as I write this brief blog post.

Indeed, I have no idea how many — if there are any to report — new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Farmersville just since I filed my amended version of the original story.

By all means, we are experiencing a crisis that tests us all. I just have to stay nimble.

Newspaper industry is changing even more rapidly

To those of you who either have worked in newspapers, known someone who has worked for them, or has had either a passing or passionate interest in the information that newspapers convey … you need to read the article I have attached to this blog post.

A former colleague of mine, a one-time production director for a Texas newspaper, brought it to my attention.

Read the article here.

It’s lengthy, but take my word for it: If you have any interest at any level in a changing — and likely dying — industry, it is worth your time.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will offer this nugget of what the article tells us:

The coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered businesses around the world and probably changed our lives forever and ever has brought about a rapid acceleration in the changes that await the newspaper industry.

Ken Doctor, author of the essay, writes: Make no mistake, though: Many of the decisions being made right now and in the next few weeks will be permanent ones. No newspaper that drops print days of publication will ever add them back. Humpty Dumpty won’t put the 20th-century newspaper back together again. There can be no return to status quo ante; the ante was already vanishing.

The trends that were supposed to occur in, say, 2023 or 2025 are occurring right now.

It ain’t pretty, ladies and gentlemen.

I am a former newspaper guy. I spent nearly four decades practicing a craft that I loved. I am officially saddened by what I fear is coming at us much more rapidly than I ever envisioned.

Newspapers become casualty of coronavirus … wow!

This is what I call a serious punch in the chops to those of us who love newspapers and cherish their role in reporting the news to the communities they serve.

Gannett Corp., which owns scores of newspapers around the country — including the one I left in August 2012 at the end of my journalism career — has announced unpaid leaves for its staff of reporters, editors and support staff.

That means, the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas — the paper to which I referred — will be left with even fewer people to cover a region afflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

GateHouse Media bought the Globe-News in 2018, then purchased Gannett this past year. Gannett’s name, though, remains the one in force. So it fell to Gannett Corp. to announce the furloughs.

The Globe-News reporting and editing staff has been decimated already by the changing media climate. Now comes this news, about the pandemic, and the newspaper’s reporting capabilities have been reduced even further — if that is even possible.

The newspaper company announced the furloughs this way: Gannett advised in a memo to staff … that it will be instituting furloughs and other cost reductions in response to big advertising declines.

Those “big declines” have occurred because businesses that advertise with the newspapers have been shuttered by the pandemic. Since they can’t stay open, they can’t earn revenue, some of which they spend on advertising with newspapers and other media.

The victims of this terrible turn of events aren’t just the businesses, or the media outlets that deliver their message through paid ads. They include rank-and-file Americans like you and me who depend on newspapers to tell us what is going on in our communities. We need to know what’s going on; we need to understand how the pandemic is affecting life in our surroundings.

Oh, sure, we can turn on the TV, boot up our computers, activate our smart phones and all of that. I happen to be rather old school. I also depend on the printed word that is tossed onto my driveway before the sun comes up.

I am unclear how the regional editors of the Amarillo Globe-News will be able to cover the news of their community. For that matter, I’ve wondered how they do it for some time, given the precipitous decline in personnel on hand to report on and deliver the news to the region.

Read about the announcement here.

This “news” saddens me way beyond measure. Gannett says the austerity moves are “temporary.” I want to believe it. That rumbling in my gut tells me something quite different.

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.