Tag Archives: CBS News

You think you ‘know’ someone …

I have been watching and listening to Leslie Stahl for decades. The CBS News correspondent has filled me with information about the nation and the world.

She’s a regular on “60 Minutes,” where she explores in greater detail the issues of the day and the people who shape them.

You think you know someone in that venue. Then that someone reveals a totally other side. You get smacked in the face with something you’ve known all along, that these news “celebrities” are more than images on a TV screen.

Stahl writes about the joys of grandparenthood. She is speaking directly to me and to my wife.

Here’s the essay she wrote for the Sunday New York Times. Just click on the first three words of the preceding sentence.

Oh, how I relate to all she said.

Stahl, though, has an advantage over my wife and me. She gets to see her grandbaby regularly. I’m going to presume her grandchild lives nearby. We aren’t yet at that stage of grandparenting. Our precious little one lives some distance away from us, so we don’t see her nearly as often as we want.

However, that will change in due course — if you get my drift.

Stahl’s essay touches on so many aspects of grandparenthood to which we are looking so forward to enjoying. I said earlier that Stahl speaks directly to me; I won’t presume to speak for my wife, as she hasn’t seen Stahl’s essay yet. It’s kind of like the way the film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” spoke to me. The family depicted in the film didn’t resemble my old-country Greek family members precisely. But there was enough symbolic resemblance to laugh hysterically at them in the film.

Stahl notes in her essay how some grandparents don’t want to be called “Grandpa” or “Grandma.” They somehow refuse to acknowledge the obvious, which is that they are aging. Stahl writes: “Given the intensity of grandparent love, I’ve been surprised by how many people cringe at the idea of being identified as a granny or a gramps. There’s fear of a stigma, a penalty to being seen as ‘that old.’”

My own view? Bring it on!

As Stahl writes: “When we grandparents are in the lives of the children, they get adoring, unconditional love, the parents get free child care, and we, the grannies and pops, rather than getting older, feel younger, healthier and happier. Everyone wins.”

Boy, howdy!

POTUS admits it: He is without principles

Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, made what sounded — to my ears at least — like a confirmation over the weekend of what many of his critics have been saying since he began running for the office to which he was elected.

He seems to have acknowledged that he doesn’t have any principles. He lacks any core beliefs for which he would stand and fight.

When pressed by CBS News’s John Dickerson on “Face the Nation,” Trump blurted out that “I don’t stand by anything.”

Well. There you go.

Dickerson sought to press the president on the unfounded allegation he leveled that President Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign office. Trump declined to answer — and then he ended the interview.

The president’s remarkable acknowledgment came amid a flurry of media interviews that included untold numbers of bizarre assertions that demonstrated a number of qualities about this man: He knows next to nothing about U.S. history, about the government over which he presides and about the world through which he must navigate.

I keep coming back to the “I don’t stand by anything” statement.

Oh, man. That speaks volumes to me. What it means, I believe, is that anything that flies out of his mouth is fair game in the moment. It means that we have an unprincipled carnival barker sitting behind that big Oval Office desk and in the Situation Room. He is making decisions based on whatever someone tells him in real time and that he will not stand for anyone seeking to hold him accountable for anything he has said previously.

Hillary won the popular vote because of illegal ballots? Obama wiretapped his campaign office? Kim Jong Un is a “smart cookie”? John McCain is a war hero only “because he was captured”? Barack Obama is an illegal alien who wasn’t qualified to run for president? The media are “the enemy of the American people”?

Does he believe this horse manure? Or does he just say it because he has this insatiable desire to stir things up?

Donald Trump has just settled a serious talking point at only the 102nd day as president. He has just admitted that he is an unprincipled charlatan.

I won’t say “I told you so.” Oh, wait! I just did!

Sean Hannity ‘bad for America’?

I feel the need to take issue with legendary newsman Ted Koppel, who believes a notable Fox News commentator is “bad for America.”

The target of Koppel’s epithet is Sean Hannity, the well-known conservative provocateur and gabby apologist for Donald John Trump.

Koppel scolds Hannity

Koppel told Hannity to his face — on a “CBS Sunday Morning” segment — that he is a bad influence on listeners to his radio show and viewers to his TV show. Hannity’s response was on target, in my view. It was that viewers/listeners know when they’re listening to opinion or straight news.

Given that Hannity is not a journalist by training, he spouts opinion on the air. I get that. As I’ve always said … and this is the clean-up version: Opinions are like certain body orifices; everyone has one.

Do I think he’s “bad” for the country, that he somehow poisons Americans with his right-wing dogma? Not really.

You see, we all have choices. I’ve made my own as it regards Hannity. I don’t listen to his radio show or watch him on TV. I know what he thinks. I disagree with him. I choose instead to listen to more thoughtful conservatives. A number of them come to mind.

If I want to hear an analysis from a smart conservative, I’ll look elsewhere.

Hannity? He’s simply a blowhard.

Not feeling good about potential for Trump trouble

My proverbial trick knee has been quiet of late. I haven’t felt it throbbing in some time.

It’s beginning to send me some signals. I don’t like the message the throbs are sending.

They’re telling me that Donald J. Trump’s troubles are just beginning, that all this Russia chatter has the potential of blowing up badly. There well might be a good bit of collateral damage if it does.

Dan Rather, the former CBS News correspondent/news anchor, thinks the “fuse has been lit” and it’s likely to explode.

Yes, I know that CBS essentially fired Rather after that bogus report he delivered about former President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. But Rather has covered more than his share of political scandals in his lengthy career as a broadcast journalist and he doesn’t like what he’s seeing develop with regard to the president and his possible relationship with Russian government officials.

There have been meetings with Russian envoys, allegedly during the 2016 election. The Russians reportedly tried to influence the election outcome. The Obama administration leveled sanctions against the Russians. The meetings involving Trump campaign officials well might have related to those sanctions.

The national security adviser has been fired. The attorney general has just recused himself from any investigations involving the president and Russia. There are questions swirling all over the nation’s capital about who knew about the Russian contacts and when they knew it.

There seems to be no end — none! — to the inquiries that might swallow up the new president’s administration.

That ol’ trick knee of mine is throbbing. I hate it when it throbs like that. It’s beginning to give me the heebie-jeebies about what might lie ahead for our brand new government.

As Rather wrote on his Facebook page: “We are well past the time for any political niceties or benefits of the doubt. We need an independent and thorough investigation of Russia’s meddling in our democracy and its ties to the president and his allies. We don’t know what we don’t know.”

It’s the temperament, man … the temperamant

I’ve been trying to determine when I’ve ever seen a president of the United States treat the media in the manner being displayed by the current one.

I cannot remember a single time. Not even during President Richard Nixon’s time in the White House.

Donald Trump has shown utter contempt and disrespect for the men and women assigned to cover the White House for their various news organizations.

It manifests itself when he gets a question he dislikes. He tells reporters to “sit down, that’s enough” when they seek to elaborate on their question, to fill in a blank or two. No, the president will have none of it.

Forget for a moment that he calls them “dishonest” out loud, in public, to their face … and then expects these fellow human beings to treat him with kid gloves.

The disrespect — as I’ve witnessed it — is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed, even from afar.

If we march back through time — starting from Barack Obama and going backward — I cannot remember a president acting the way this one does in front of the media.

There was one memorable, testy exchange in the 1970s between then-CBS News correspondent Dan Rather and President Nixon. The president was getting entangled in the Watergate scandal and Rather asked him a pointed question. Some members of the press gallery chuckled, some even clapped. Nixon asked Rather, “Are you running for something?” Rather responded, “No, Mr. President, are you?”

Presidents usually have strained relations with the media. They dislike negative coverage, as does any politician — no matter what they might say. As I’ve watched presidential/media relationships from a distance over the years, I have noticed a sometimes cool cordiality between the Big Man and the media that cover him.

What we’re getting now is open hostility and an exhibition of extremely bad manners from the guy who needs the media as least as much as they need him.

I’m trying to imagine what will occur if and/or when the crap really hits the fan at the White House. I fear the president will go berserk.

Didn’t someone mention temperament as a quality we look for in a president of the United States of America?

The Dossier: It’s ba-a-a-a-ck

I am still trying to figure this one out. So, too, are federal and international law enforcement authorities.

Donald J. Trump went ballistic not long after becoming president at media outlets that reported the existence of a “dossier” that allegedly had been compiled on him. The president called out CNN in particular for being a “fake news” outlet because it reported the existence of unsubstantiated reports contained in this dossier.

Now it appears the dossier’s existence might be gaining some credibility among law enforcement spooks.

Some truth is in order. The issue centers on some information reportedly compiled by a British spy alleging that Russian authorities had some negative information regarding Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

The curiousness of all this seems to center on Trump’s dismissal of allegations that Russian government hackers were trying to influence the 2016 presidential election at the time CIA and other intelligence agencies were saying they had proof that such activity was occurring.

The arc of this ongoing story might find its way back to the president’s continued refusal to release his tax returns for public review.

I have no clue where this story will end up. It frightens me that it might produce some ghastly information regarding Trump’s business interests inside of Russia and whether they involved direct dealings with a government that might have tried to manipulate our electoral process.

Trump, of course, denies any business dealings with Russian government authorities. He asks us to believe him, to take him at his word. Sure thing, Mr. President … just like you want us to believe the baloney about “millions of illegal immigrants” voting for Hillary Clinton or the lie you perpetuated about Barack Obama being born in Kenya..

Let’s get to the whole truth.

Moderator deserves a good word

161004220339-elaine-quijano-cbs-780x439

Elaine Quijano has earned a good word on this morning after the vice-presidential “debate.”

The CBS News correspondent/anchor didn’t do a great job refereeing the exchange between Democratic nominee Tim Kaine and Republican nominee Mike Pence.

As I look back on it after a good night’s sleep, my conclusion is that it wasn’t totally her fault. She sought to reel in the fellas, sought to keep them answering the questions, she sought to avoid the constant interruptions that were initiated by the amped-up Kaine.

She got caught in a buzzsaw of campaign rhetoric, throwaway lines, talking points, insults and, oh yeah, the occasional policy differences that emerged from the candidates.

I want to echo something I heard last night from the post-“debate” analysis about the best question of the evening. It dealt with candidates’ religious faith and how it informs their public policy.

Both men exhibited clear understanding of faith and explained in clear and concise language how it works for them in their public life. Bravo to them both for ending the evening on somewhat of a civil note — and bravo to Quijano for the question.

As we’ve been seeing, though, in these joint appearances, the media moderators are becoming a bit of a distraction. Dating back four years ago when CNN’s Candy Crowley corrected GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s incorrect assertion that Barack Obama didn’t call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism, media and politicians have been waiting for future moderators to interject themselves into the political dialogue.

Quijano, unfortunately, became part of the story again last night.

From my perch out here in Flyover Country, though, I believe she delivered a creditable effort at staying above the fray. I only wish the candidates would have done a better job of focusing on the issues at hand.

Do as Jolly says, not as he does

jolly

David Jolly says he wants members of Congress to stop spending so much time soliciting money from donors.

So, what does the Florida Republican lawmaker do? He attends a fundraiser to, um, raise money for his own campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Marco Rubio.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/david-jolly-fundraiser-60-minutes-222669

I was somewhat enthralled by Rep. Jolly when he appeared this past Sunday on “60 Minutes.” He has authored something called the STOP Act. Its aim is to prohibit incumbent House members from spending so much time “dialing for dollars.” Jolly told CBS News’ Nora O’Donnell that House members spend more time manning the phones making “cold calls” on donors than they spending doing the job to which they’ve been elected.

He talked about things such as, oh, “constituent service.” You know, dealing with constituents’ questions about Social Security payments, veterans benefits … things like that.

I told some family members just yesterday that if Jolly were running for president today I’d consider voting for him over any of the others seeking the nation’s highest job.

According to Politico: “The piece sparked an intra-party feud between Jolly and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC said Jolly vastly overstated how much time lawmakers spend raising money.”

He’s gotten only a handful of co-sponsors. The act isn’t likely to get much traction in the House, where members say they “hate” having to raise so much money.

Still, I guess they just can’t help themselves.

As for the fundraiser Jolly attended, his flack justified it by saying Jolly didn’t actually telephone anyone to invite them to the event.

There. Do you feel better about it?

 

Penn fails to make the case

Bloomberg's Best Photos 2014: Drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces at Mexico's International Airport in Mexico city, Mexico, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Mexico's apprehension of the world's most-wanted drug boss struck a blow to a cartel that local and U.S. authorities say swelled into a multinational empire, fueling killings around the world. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sean Penn invented a word last night on “60 Minutes.”

He called himself an “experiental” journalist.

I’ve been working with words for, oh, damn near 40 years. I consider myself a journalist. I worked at four newspapers in two states. I enjoyed some modest success during my career.

“Experiental”? What the . . . ?

Penn is a movie actor of some renown. He recently ventured to Mexico, where he shook hands with Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, the then-fugitive drug lord; he had escaped in early 2015 from a maximum security prison in Mexico. Penn interviewed this supremely evil individual for a 10,000-word article he wrote for Rolling Stone.

I watched with considerable pain in my gut as Penn sought to explain to CBS News correspondent Charlie Rose what he hoped to accomplish by writing a story about El Chapo, who was recaptured by Mexican authorities the day after the magazine article hit the streets.

I think I heard a tinge of sympathy in this guy’s voice as he tried to relay Guzman’s reasons for peddling drugs, for delivering so much misery to so many millions of people, for being responsible for the deaths of thousands of individuals with whom he has come in contact.

I also believe I detected a look of incredulity in Rose’s face as Penn offered his explanations.

And then Penn would drop that hideous, made-up adjective that he put in front of the word “journalist.”

This thought doesn’t come from me, but I’ll pass on what a friend of mine said this morning on social media.

My friend, too, is a trained journalist. He wants to know if he can now seek to become an “experiental movie actor.”

***

This just in: I’m advised that “experiental” is a real word. I stand corrected on that particular point.

 

 

Of course the question was intended to offend

Major Garrett, CBS News’s chief White House correspondent, and I have something in common.

We both worked for the same person, although at different times.

How’s that for name-dropping?

Garrett went to work for the Amarillo Globe-News back in the old days. The then-editor of the paper, Garet von Netzer, hired him; von Netzer later would become publisher of the paper and then he hired yours truly, although long after Garrett had moved on.

Having laid down that useless predicate, let me now say that Major Garrett asked a patently offensive question of President Obama, to which the president responded appropriately.

The question involved four Americans held captive in Iran and Garrett wondered how the president could be “content” that they’re still being held on trumped-up charges while he is “celebrating” the nuclear deal worked out with the Islamic Republic.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/obama-major-garrett-shuts-down-press-conference-120156.html?hp=b2_r1

Obama took offense at the tone of the question. He scolded Garrett, saying he “should know better” than to ask a question that contained “nonsense.”

The president said he isn’t “content” over the Americans’ continued captivity and said he and his team are “working diligently” to secure freedom for the individuals.

What irks me about the question and its aftermath is how Major Garrett insisted it wasn’t intended to ruffle the president. He didn’t apologize and he said it was not asked to call attention to himself.

May I be blunt? That’s pure baloney.

That’s how it goes among the White House press corps. It’s always about getting in a question intended to call attention to the inquiry and to the person making it. Such gamesmanship has been going on for, oh, since the beginning of these televised events dating back to the days when President Kennedy introduced them to the public and turned them into some form of entertainment.

CBS’s Dan Rather famously sought to get under President Nixon’s skin during the Watergate scandal; ABC’s Sam Donaldson did the same thing to President Reagan over the course of many years; Fox’s Ed Henry does the same thing today with President Obama.

Well, now Henry and others have company in the “gotcha” hall of fame.

Major Garrett asked an appropriate question. He just inserted a certain word — “content” — that framed it in a way that got Barack Obama’s dander up.

I would bet that was his intent all along.