Category Archives: media news

Too early to judge Iran nuke deal

Listen to the mainstream media on both ends — conservative and liberal — and the Iran nuclear deal is either the precursor to World War III or the agreement that will bring a comprehensive peace to a region that’s never known it.

Fox News this morning was having its usual fun blasting the “liberal mainstream media” for gushing all over the deal that seeks to block Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon. The caption on the screen as the “Fox and Friends” talking heads were blathering on noted “liberal bias” in the media’s coverage of the agreement. That stuff just slays me, given that Fox never recognizes its own conservative bias.


I’m not going to draw any firm conclusions about the deal just yet.

I remain cautiously hopeful that the deal will produce the desired result. One of the Obama administration talking points is that it “blocks all pathways” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Israeli officials — led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — say it’s dangerous in the extreme, as it doesn’t prevent Iran from making mischief in the Middle East.

The economic sanctions? They’ll be lifted over time, giving Iran needed money to rebuild its shattered economy — which was made that way by the sanctions.

What if Iran cheats? What if the Iranians don’t do what they say? The sanctions return.

Is the deal perfect? No. Is it the disaster that congressional Republicans predict it will become? No.

The mainstream media — all of it all along the political spectrum — need to take a breath and listen intently to the debate that’s about to unfold.

Assuming, of course, that the debate isn’t overtaken by hysterical politicians.


Dylan Ratigan … I have found you!

Do you remember a guy named Dylan Ratigan?

He used to have a talk show on MSNBC. He’s not a flaming liberal, which is what conservatives say about MSBNC’s talking heads. He’s more of, um, an equal-opportunity critic. During the financial crisis of late 2008 and early 2009, he coined the term “banksters” to describe the financial geniuses who got the country into the mess it found itself.

Ratigan had his show. Then he was gone.

I’ve been missing the guy ever since.

Well, I recently located a YouTube link with some snippets of Ratigan’s rants. They’re called “The Real Ratigan.”

The link is attached to this blog post.

One of the segments mentions how Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the only two of the current crop of presidential candidates who tell us what’s in their hearts and on their minds. They don’t give us “poll-tested talking points.”

He likes that about both men.

I wish Ratigan would be a tad more visible and more in demand as a “contributor” to whichever network is willing to have this guy share his views on politics, policy and the state of affairs in the United States.

Gov. Haley is working through her pain


Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., today ended a nationally televised interview with an extraordinary answer.

I think she has just emerged as perhaps my favorite Republican.

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd asked Gov. Haley how she felt about her probable rise in polling as a potential national candidate on a GOP presidential ticket. She called it “painful.”

She was on the broadcast to talk about the striking of the Confederate battle flag that had flown over the South Carolina statehouse grounds since the 1960s in defiance of the Voting Rights Act. The flag came down and Haley has become a national figure as a result.

Mentioning the slaughter of African-Americans in the Charleston church, Haley said: “Nine people died. We have been dealing with nine funerals.”

“That’s what I want people talking about – the Emanuel nine and how they forever changed this country,” Haley added.

Haley’s response to a question posed in good faith brought a visible response from Todd, who had asked the question. I don’t think he expected such an eloquent and graceful answer.

“We’ve already been moving in this direction,” she said of the flag removal. “We’re not the state that everybody thinks we are. “We didn’t have people getting out of hand – we had hugs,” Haley said of the flag’s lowering.“We love our God, we love our country, we love our state and we love each other,” Haley said of South Carolina’s people.

Yes, she was thinking of those nine men and women, one of whom, Haley recalled, begged the shooter to stop the carnage. The gunman killed him anyway.

It was an astonishing end to a gripping interview.

Well said, Gov. Haley.

Blog totals climbing … rapidly


I’ve had fun sharing the good news about the progress of this blog.

It remains a big-time blast to share my world view with those who are good enough to read it. I even appreciate the disagreements that flare on occasion. I know as well as anyone that the world is full of opinions that differ from each other. As much as I would want the world to agree with my view, I know it won’t happen … not ever.

So, I want to share a bit of cheer regarding this blog.

Here it is, only the 12th day of the seventh month of 2015 and the page views logged on High Plains Blogger have surpassed all of 2014.

We’ve got more than five months to go before the year’s end. My sincere hope is that the blog traffic will continue to grow.

I owe this to the impact that social media have on vehicles such as this. Blog posts get shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google.

My heartfelt thanks go to those who take the time at least to open the links they see. I hope many of you will take even more time to read what’s in them.

Onward we shall go.

Sensing an odd disconnect

I picked up the phone this weekend to call a good friend.

We worked together at the Amarillo Globe-News. Not long after I quit my job — after being “reorganized” out of the position I had occupied for nearly 18 years — he resigned to take another journalism job back east.

As we visited, he told me about this challenge and that challenge he was facing at the paper where he’s working.

Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I did not feel connected in any meaningful way with what my friend was telling me.

Wow! How weird is this?

It’s been a month shy of three years since I left daily print journalism. It defined me in the many people’s eyes for more than 36 years. I toiled at four newspapers: two in Oregon and two in Texas. My career didn’t take me to too many stops along the way. Several of my friends who are still practicing the craft have made many more stops along the way than I ever did.

Still, for 36-plus years that was what I did. I had some modest success over that time and I am so very proud of what I was able to do, the places I was able to see, the people — famous, infamous and just plain interesting — I was able to meet.

Oh, but the disconnected feeling I’m getting these days is sending me a clear message.

I am glad to be gone from my last stop along the way. I was an old-school reporter and editor when my employer informed me that he planned to make “radical changes” at the newspaper and that I didn’t fit into those plans. I’ll admit that it hurt hearing such a thing. And, yes, I went through some grieving as I sought to collect my thoughts and plot the rest of the journey my wife and I would take.

Three years is a long time. Then again, it does fly by quickly, especially when you’re occupying your time doing other things. I’ve managed to do that. I’m staying quite busy writing blogs for two local broadcast TV stations. So I haven’t been sent out to pasture entirely. I’m also helping a friend produce a weekly newspaper in eastern New Mexico.

The disconnect lies with the daily grind. I no longer have to worry about answering the bell every single day. I’ll leave that to others who are young and vigorous enough to overcome the obstacles that emerge constantly to bring added pressure to an already pressure-packed job.

I’m glad my friend still relishes the challenges that confront him every day. As for me, I’ve got other things to do.

Now comes Louis Farrakhan to weigh in on flag

Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show the other day that liberals are next going to seek to take down the Stars and Stripes.

The conservative talk show voice was making some point about the furor over the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

Now comes a voice from the equally remote far left of the spectrum. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said we, indeed, need to take down the American flag.

Those who march under and behind Old Glory have been subjugating African-Americans, Farrakhan said.

That is utter crap!

A former colleague of mine said I owe Daddy Dittohead an apology for tweeting that he should “shut the bleep up” over his remarks about the Stars and Stripes.

I’ll pass on the apology. As for Farrakhan, he, too, needs to shut his pie hole.


Dad asked a simple question … and gave birth to a career

It’s kind of late in the day. It’s about to end.

But in the waning hours of Father’s Day, I’ve suddenly gotten filled with the desire to share a brief story about my dad and a simple question he posed to me.

It was late in 1970. I had returned home from a two-year U.S. Army stint. I was preparing to re-enroll in college.

Mom, Dad and I were having dinner one evening at their home, where I returned after my Army hitch.

We were chatting about college, my plans and what I might want to do with my life now that my military obligation was over. I was single, unattached (for the time being) and I had my whole life ahead of me.

Dad asked, “Have you declared a major yet? Do you know what you want to study in college?”

I had not yet made that decision. “Why do you ask?” I said.

Dad responded immediately, “Have you thought about journalism?”

To be honest, I hadn’t given it any thought. “Journalism?” I asked.

Sure, he said. He told me of the letters I wrote home from wherever I was stationed for the previous two years. I wrote home frequently from basic training in Fort Lewis, Wash.; from Fort Eustis, Va., where I went through my advanced training; then from Da Nang, South Vietnam and later, from Fort Lewis, where I was assigned at the end of my tour.

He mentioned how “descriptive” they were. He said I had this ability to turn a phrase. He thought journalism might be a good fit for me, given — he said — my ability to string sentences together.

Oh, gee, why not? So, I returned to college in January 1971, enrolling in some journalism-related classes.

I then fell in love with this craft called “journalism.”

I stayed with it for the next four decades.

I look back at that dinner-time moment with Dad and Mom with great fondness and appreciation for the simple question that Dad asked. It helped me — along with prodding and pushing from the girl who would become my wife in September 1971 — undertake a fruitful and moderately successful career in print journalism.

It’s not yet over, thankfully.

I’m pretty sure I thanked Dad for nudging me down that path. He’s been gone now for 35 years; Mom died 31 years ago. I can’t thank them again now.

However, I can share this memory to remind myself — and perhaps others — of our parents’ wisdom.

In that moment at the dinner table, father definitely knew best.

Brian Williams gone … but then he stays

There are a lot of things I don’t understand in this world.

One of them is how a high-priced broadcast celebrity journalist can stay employed by the network that hired after he violated one of the basic tenets of journalism: to tell the truth.

Brian Williams reportedly is out as anchor of NBC NIghtly News. He’s going to be given some sort of undefined “special assignment” slot on the network’s news team.

My strong hunch is that the one-time golden boy of NBC won’t like the demotion. He’ll likely quit to “pursue other interests.” But in order for him to make his exit cleanly and without too much fuss, the network will have to pay him a lot of money to fulfill the terms of his contract.

You know the story. Williams fibbed about being shot down while riding in a helicopter during the early months of the Iraq War in 2003. He embellished the story with each retelling of it in the years since. Then the network discovered at least 10 or so more incidents of embellishments — or non-truth-telling.

Where I come from, that’s reason to get canned, booted, tossed out on your ear.

Brian Williams violated Rule No. 1 of Journalism 101: tell the damn truth.

He didn’t do it.

He’s been reduced to a punch line at parties. Late-night comedians had a field day over his shame. The Internet is still bubbling with fake depictions of Williams storming ashore at Normandy on D-Day and walking on the moon before Neil Armstrong ever set foot on the place. Others are out there, too.

Whatever project he undertakes at NBC will be viewed, I’m quite sure, with plenty of skepticism from a public whose trust in this guy was shattered because he couldn’t carry out the basic rule of good journalism.

Bye, bye Rush … don’t hurry back

I posted something to my Facebook feed the other day about Rush Limbaugh losing yet another radio station from his shrinking audience.

The post prompted an interesting exchange among several individuals with whom I’m “friends,” actual friends — and it included one of my sons.

One of the individuals encouraged another respondent to actually listen to Limbaugh’s radio show before making a judgment about his message.

It reminded me a bit of a similar exchange I had in the pre-Internet days with a man I admired greatly.

The late Maury Meyers, who once served as mayor of Beaumont and who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress against the Irascible Man, the late Rep. Jack Brooks. Meyers was a Republican, Brooks a Democrat.

Meyers was a fine individual, a progressive, pro-business mayor.

He also was a fan of Rush Limbaugh.

I wrote a column about Limbaugh’s short-lived TV show in which he’d rant for 30 minutes, sign off, then come back the day and rant some more. I couldn’t take it and I said so in my column, which ended with this: “Rush Limbaugh is to TV political commentary what Willard Scott is to TV weather predicting, with one difference: Scott makes me laugh; Limbaugh makes me sick.”

Meyers called me and invited me to listen more intently to Limbaugh. Tune in to his radio show, Maury implored me. Listen to him over a period of time and tell me if you still feel the same way, he said.

I took him up on it.

Limbaugh was worse than I thought. I wrote a follow-up column, stating that Limbaugh’s radio show was the worst piece of broadcasting I’d ever heard. OK, I’ve heard worse since then, but at that time, Limbaugh was the gold standard for right-wing trash-talk.

The term “Dittohead” was meant to be worn as a badge of honor by the man’s radio listeners who proclaim themselves to be among them. It’s an interesting term, when you think about it. To me, it more or less connotes an inability or unwillingness to think for one’s self.

That, I reckon, is Limbaugh’s audience.

And it appears to be dwindling.



CNN anchor ‘misspoke’ about Dallas PD shooter?

This likely will be the last thing I’ll say about this, but I must ask: How does one “misspeak” the words that CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield uttered in describing James Boulware, the man who laid siege to the Dallas Police Department before a police sniper shot him to death?

Whitfield went on the air the other day and said Boulware was “brave and courageous.” He assaulted the PD in an armored van, opening fire on police officers.

The criticism erupted. Whitfield went back on the air a couple of days later and said she “misspoke” when she used those words to describe Boulware. The media called her statement an “apology.” It really wasn’t.

My understanding, though, is that when you misspeak, you insert incorrect verbiage into sentences intended to convey another message. What did she intend to say about Boulware? Was the word “brave” uttered instead of — as a friend of mine noted — the term “brazen”?

Now I’m trying to figure out a word that sounds sort of like “courageous.” I can’t come up with one.

She misspoke? No, that’s not what I’d call it.