Category Archives: media news

How long will Trump criticism last? For as long as it takes!

Critics of this blog ask me from time to time: How much more criticism of Donald Trump must we endure from you?

My answer: I will keep it up for as long as this man is in public office. It might even go on after he no longer is president, depending on how loudly he might continue to bitch and moan about the state of play.

I make no apologies for my intense loathing of the notion that Donald Trump got elected president of the United States. It is visceral. It’s personal. It has little to do with policy, given that Donald Trump doesn’t have any core values on which he bases his policy pronouncements.

I’ve offered a good word or two on occasion; come to think of it, I believe that’s all he has earned from High Plains Blogger … a good word or two.

I intend fully to keep hammering away at this individual.

It’s not as if he sees the comments regularly. I doubt he does. He’s got a zillion Twitter followers; I have, shall we say, significantly fewer of them. I do include the president’s Twitter address on items that I post on this blog and distribute through that social medium.

So, I am trying to get Trump’s attention.

Trump won the 2016 election and thus made himself a sitting duck for critics. It goes with the territory associated with being elected to the highest office in the land. Every single man who’s held the office has accepted that fundamental truth … until Trump came along.

Sure, the president has his supporters. They are entitled to express themselves, too.

As for me and the negativity about Trump that this blog presents, I just consider myself as contributing to the vast marketplace of ideas and opinions about the world’s most important politician.

Retirement journey takes me farther than I thought

I want to acknowledge something I realized during a recent foray across the western portion of North America.

It is that my retirement from a craft I pursued with great joy has taken me farther away from it than I could have imagined.

I worked in print journalism for nearly 37 years. My career ended in August 2012. I dabbled a bit here and there part time writing for other media outlets: public TV, commercial TV and editing a weekly newspaper. I kept my head in the game and my hand on the mechanics of the craft.

Then I entered full retirement mode.

In the old days, travels with my wife usually meant picking up newspapers in every community we would visit or pass through. I would bring home an armload of newspapers from which I might glean ideas about layout, or presentation.

This time, after spending more than a month on the road through the western United States and Canada? Nothin’. I didn’t bring home a single newspaper. Indeed, I read only one newspaper during our time on the road … and it was a freebie distributed to all the visitors of a Eugene, Ore., RV park. The newspaper was the Register-Guard of Eugene, which in the old days was considered one of the better newspapers in the Pacific Northwest. It was family owned and was considered a leader in graphic design and presentation of news and commentary.

The Baker family sold the R-G not long ago to GateHouse Media, the outfit that has purchased dozens of newspapers around the country, becoming a media titan in an age of dwindling newspaper influence and importance.

My wife and I spent several nights up the highway from Eugene in Portland, my hometown and where I first fell in love with newspapers. I never laid eyes on The Oregonian newspaper during our visit there.

Oh, the end of an era for me personally!

We visited many cities that used to boast solid newspaper tradition: Colorado Springs; Bend, Ore.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Calgary, Alberta; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Grand Forks, N.D.; Topeka, Kan.; Tulsa, Okla.

I didn’t read a single word printed in newspapers distributed in those communities.

What does this mean? Hmm. I’ll have to ponder it. I still cherish my memories of toiling at newspapers in Oregon and Texas. I continue to harbor many fond memories of those years. I recall them with glee. However, I no longer am wedded to newspapers as my primary information source … or so it has become obvious, given what I have just reported about our recent journey.

Gosh, am I now dependent on “The Internet” for all my information? To some extent, yes. Although I want to rely solely on “legitimate news sources” that are spread throughout cyberspace.

There remains a glimmer of hope that I haven’t gone totally to the dark side. I do subscribe to the Dallas Morning News. I restarted my subscription upon our return home. It arrived this Sunday morning. I will consume its contents with great gusto.

Whether to impeach and risk a stunning setback

David Brooks and Mark Shields are two of the more thoughtful, insightful and provocative commentators anywhere.

Brooks is a conservative columnist for the New York Times; Shields is a liberal syndicated columnist. Both men are regulars on PBS NewsHour, appearing on Fridays to offer their analysis of the week’s events.

I am posting this segment to illustrate how Brooks (more or less) summarizes my own view of the notion of impeaching Donald J. Trump.

Brooks appears to believe that Trump deserves to be impeached. Trump has asked a foreign government for help with his re-election effort. He has violated the constitutional oath he took when he became president of the United States.

Brooks, though, is leery of the result. He takes care to note that impeachment is a “political” exercise. Its intent is to remove a president from office. He doubts that even if the House of Representatives impeaches the president, the Senate won’t follow suit. He said that it’s a tall order to get 20 Republican senators to flip to the Democrats’ side and vote to convict Trump of a “high crime and misdemeanor” in a Senate trial.

Have a listen. Indeed, listen carefully to what these men have to say.

We need some reasonable discourse. Not more hysteria.

The nation appears to be heading down a dark corridor full of traps and tricks.

‘Fake News’ becomes part of the political vernacular

Donald Trump has done it. He has turned a ridiculous epithet into part of our national vernacular.

I refer to “Fake News,” the term he uses to describe any coverage he deems to be negative. He calls it “fake,” continuing the incessant mantra he began about the time he entered political life in June 2015.

He announced his presidential campaign and not long afterward began hurling the “Fake News” around.

It has stuck. Who knew?

You see, what makes this label so remarkable is its source. Donald Trump once called himself the “king of debt.” He’s actually the “king of fake news.”

He has lied so often, on so many levels that for this individual to accuse anyone in the media of peddling “fake” information simply defies logic.

However, he has gotten away with it!

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, this carnival barker/huckster/charlatan/serial liar managed to get elected president of the United States in the first place.

He has defied every political norm known to most of us. Why, then, should it surprise anyone that he could turn “Fake News” into something ingrained in our national political vocabulary?

I offer a tip of the proverbial hat to a most unlikely recipient of this salute. You’ve done it, Mr. President. You have created a monster in your own image.

Time of My Life, Part 39: Beating out the big guys

Everyone appreciates recognition. We appreciate especially when it comes from one’s peers.

My journalism career wasn’t full of such recognition. I have said I enjoyed some modest success over 37 years as a reporter and editor of daily newspapers. One such moment presented itself early in my careers.

The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in 1981 awarded the newspaper I was editing at the time its annual award for Best Continuing Coverage of a Single Issue. What made the honor so special was that our newspaper, a five-day-per-week afternoon daily that circulated to about 7,000 subscribers, won out over much larger, more well-endowed newspapers in Oregon.

The issue we covered like a blanket involved a proposed “resource recovery” plant in Oregon City. Officials in the city wanted to build a plant to burn garbage and turn it into energy generated from the landfill. Our newspaper, the now-defunct Oregon City Enterprise-Courier, comprised a staff of six reporters. One of them, David Peters, received the assignment to cover this story for the newspaper.

Dave did a magnificent job!

The plant never got built. The story we presented was thorough in the extreme. We talked to all sides on this complicated issue. We reported every possible benefit and down side of this project.

What made the honor so sweet is that it came to us in 1981, the year that the Portland Oregonian was covering the eruption of Mount St. Helens in nearby Washington state. Oh, did I mention that the Oregonian circulated about 300,000 copies daily, or that it employed a staff many times larger than our little ol’ newspaper?

The state also comprised other much larger newspapers … in Eugene, Salem, Medford, Astoria, to name just a few communities served by healthy daily publications.

ONPA saw fit to honor us.

Yes, that was our moment. I am proud to have played a part in it.

RIP, Cokie Roberts

Blogger’s Note: This item was posted originally on KETR-FM’s website.

Cokie Roberts was born to do what she did.

She hailed from New Orleans, La. Her dad was a legendary congressman. Hale Boggs, though, disappeared somewhere near the North Pole in 1972 when his plane vanished; his body never was found. Hale Boggs’s wife, Lindy, succeeded him in the House of Representatives and she, too, forged a successful career in public service.

And then there was Cokie, a child of Washington who became a legendary journalist whose voice became well-known to listeners of National Public Radio and then – along with her face – to viewers of ABC News.

Cokie Roberts died this week at age 75, reportedly of complications from breast cancer, the disease that struck her many years ago.

Many of us, me included, had no idea she had relapsed. Or that she had suffered from any “complications.” I thought she was in remission.

Now she is gone. Her voice is stilled.

At the risk of sounding like some kind of chump frontrunner, I want to share a brief Cokie Roberts story that I hope distills just a bit of the type of individual she was.

I attended the 1992 Republican National presidential nomination convention in Houston. The Astrodome, where the RNC held its convention, was crawling with journalists. There were titans like Roberts and, well, not so titanic figures such as myself. I was working for the Beaumont Enterprise at the time and given that Beaumont sits only about 85 miles east of Houston, my bosses sent me down the highway to cover it.

I happened one afternoon to be waiting to enter the Astrodome when the convention staff shut the doors. As I recall it, Vice President Dan Quayle was entering the building and staff shut down entry to allow the VP free and easy access to his seat in the giant hall.

I looked to my right and there was Cokie Roberts standing next to me. She didn’t grumble. She did complain. We exchanged shrugs and we had some small-talk chat while we waited for the doors to reopen.

This is worth mentioning, I believe, because Cokie Roberts didn’t seem outwardly to think of herself as better than anyone else. She was caught in the crush of journalists and waited just as patiently as the rest of us.

Her commentary and analysis were always incisive and insightful. She knew her way around Washington, having grown up there and being exposed to the movers and shakers of public policy.

Cokie Roberts shoved her way into a world populated almost exclusively by men. She made her mark. Her voice became an important one. Her NPR listeners could depend on her insight on Monday mornings when she would offer her look at the week ahead in politics and public policy.

As NPR reported: In a 2017 interview with Kentucky Educational Television, Roberts reflected on her long career. “It is such a privilege – you have a front seat to history,” she said. “You do get used to it and you shouldn’t, because it is a very special thing to be able to be in the room … when all kinds of special things are happening.”

I am going to miss her wisdom and her honest reporting.

Social media climbing all over POTUS … and rightfully so!

Donald Trump’s crass response to the death of legendary journalist Cokie Roberts has turned into a social media feeding frenzy.

Twitter, for instance, is awash in criticism of the president for his statement that Roberts “was never really nice to me … but I respect her as a professional.”

You see, this response and its seemingly callous nature plays right into the president’s playbook. Much of the country is now talking about him and not necessarily about the accomplishments of the journalist who gave so much of her professional life to furthering the cause of the craft she pursued with dignity and honor.

Here we are, yapping and yammering about Donald Trump. I admit to being part of the crowd that is disgusted beyond measure at this man’s continuing lack of empathy.

Astonishing.

Social media taking aim at POTUS

If the president of the United States were a normal human being, he would feel chastened by social media’s pillorying, pummeling and pounding of him over that ridiculous Sharpie illustration on a map depicting the destructive path of Hurricane Dorian.

The president made some idiotic assertion that Alabama stood in the path of Dorian’s force. The National Weather Service said “no,” the state wasn’t threatened. Trump then produced that map with the Sharpie outline that included Alabama.

What has been social media’s response? It has been vicious. Images of Trump have shown up with Sharpie-drawn six-pack abs, of him standing “taller” than President Obama, of first lady Melania Trump grinning over her affection for Kim Jong Un … among many others.

Trump, though, doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of this. At least not outwardly. He goes about doing whatever it is he does as if nothing is wrong, as if he has said not a damn thing that the rest of us find idiotic.

His “base” of supporters don’t care, either. They continue to glom on to this individual’s word as if it is gospel. Do they know he is lying? Do they care if they know it?

This is what we get with a rewritten political playbook. Trump has tossed all the normal metrics that used to offend many of us into the crapper. How has he done that? By appealing, I reckon, to the base instincts of many Americans.

Trump challenges the National Weather Service assertions that his statements about Alabama were incorrect? Who cares?

Well, I happen to care. So do other Americans.

Fox to POTUS: We don’t work for you!

I’m in a shout-out frame of mind.

Thus, I want to say “good show!” to some of Fox News Channel’s top guns for firing back at Donald Trump’s bitching about what he seems to suggest is a growing “disloyalty” among Fox News’s talking heads.

Longtime journalist Brit Hume brusquely told Trump: “We don’t work for you.” Indeed, the network does not work for Trump, although a few of its commentators occasionally act as if they do.

Trump, though, is griping about the news coverage that Fox is providing.

As The Daily Beast reported about Trump’s recent Twitter-tantrum: The president concluded by complaining that Fox News was “letting millions of GREAT people down” and that he needs to “start looking for a new News Outlet” since the one-time channel “isn’t working for us anymore!”

Fox does have some hard-nosed reporters and news anchors on its staff. I continue to hold up Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday.” It also has Shep Smith and Brett Baier on anchor desks during the week day.

I won’t offer any commentary on the alleged “work” done by, oh, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, the “Fox & Friends” co-hosts, or Laura Ingraham. They all are full of opinions and express them regularly. They are entitled, certainly.

However, for Trump to suggest that a major news and opinion outlet should be “loyal” to him is disgusting and disgraceful beyond belief.

The pros at Fox are doing their job.

If only Donald Trump would realize the fundamental truth about Fox. The network might produce more “friendly” or “favorable” coverage than other news outlets, but it does not work for the president of the United States.

I’m glad to hear the Fox superstars pushing back on Donald Trump.

Technical issues create maximum frustration

There are times when I feel as if I’m speaking Martian, or times when the other person is speaking to me in Martian.

Technical difficulties occasionally get in the way of all the fun I have writing this blog.

They barreled into my fun time this morning. I don’t know if they’re fixed. At the moment the site that I use to write this blog is working. My most recent post has been distributed along the various social media I use to publicize these musings. Life is good … for the moment.

The frustration occurs when I call for technical support. I use an Internet hosting company. I’ll call them when things like this occur. I usually get a very young person on the other end of the line. I tell the youngster about the issue that’s plaguing me at the moment. He or she will respond with a rapid-fire sequence of sentences that usually involve lots of initials and acronyms.

I have more than once stopped the individual and reminded them that I am old man who isn’t fluent in the language they are speaking. I haven’t yet grasped all the nuances of Internet-speak.

Those who are kind will tell me that I have communicated my concern to them clearly. They say I can speak to them in their language better than I think I can. That’s all fine. I understand what customer service is all about: Their mission is to make me feel comfortable making a phone call.

Arguably the most astonishing aspect of this computer age is the vast array of entry points the “techs” can use to access this and/or that “tool” available to me. I don’t know where these access points can be found, so I rely on the experts to wander through the maze of options that only they know exist.

Blogging remains a lot of fun for me … when the computer system I use is working well. Which is most of the time.

When it’s not, well, I venture into a world with which I am totally unfamiliar. Maybe I will learn how to navigate through the darkness.

Or … maybe not.