Tag Archives: fake news

FBI launches raid and the mystery deepens

FBI agents conducted a quick-hit raid on the office of Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

He’s the guy who shelled out that $130,000 hush-money payment to porn queen Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair that the president denies ever occurring.

Stay with me on this.

Cohen allegedly paid the money without his client’s knowledge. It supposedly came from a personal account. Trump has said he didn’t know about the payment. And surely we believe the liar in chief’s denial. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? I mean, he’s the president of the United States … after all.

I’m no expert on legal ethics, but this one just doesn’t pass the smell test. It stinks to high heaven.

So the FBI wants to take a look at the documents that Cohen had squirreled away in his office. They may — or may not — have anything to do with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in the “Russia thing” that Trump calls a “witch hunt” and the product of “fake news” and Democrats who are still steamed over losing the 2016 presidential election.

As an American taxpayer with a keen interest in seeing this mystery play out, I welcome the FBI raid on Cohen’s office. It tells me that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency is on the hunt. It is seeking the truth behind — at a bare minimum (no pun intended) — this seedy, tawdry story involving our nation’s head of state.

There might be some element to this story and the payment of the hush money that hasn’t come out just yet.

So, the mystery deepens. Same for the intrigue.

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.

‘So much fake news’

Every time Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump Sr. throws out the “fake news” allegation, I am reminded only of one thing: The president lacks any sense of self-awareness.

You know the type. These are people who accuse others of doing what they do. It’s a form of projection. Perhaps it’s a pathological condition.

Whatever it is, Trump’s got it. Or he lacks it.

The president fired off a tweet after the “60 Minutes” interview with the porn queen who says the two of them had a fling in 2006. He called it “fake news.”

Sure thing, Mr. President. I happen to believe her. She’s more credible than the president of the United States. Yes. A porn actress is more believable than the head of state. What in the world has become of this world?

And … why is that? Because the president is the king of fake news.

He perpetuated the lie that Barack Obama was not qualified to serve as president because he allegedly was born in another country. He lied about President Obama wiretapping his offices in Trump Tower after the 2016 election. He lied about witnessing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

He lies without any sense of shame or guilt.

Through all of this, the president has the stones to slap the “fake news” label on any news story he deems to be negative.

Fake news are those items that are demonstrably false. They are made-up tales. They are lies put forward by those who cannot tell the truth. These tall tales are meant to defame others, to do damage to others’ credibility.

The president will never look inward while he accuses others of fomenting “fake news.” It is left to the rest of us to do it for him.

The Liar in Chief is a disgrace to his office.

‘Fake news’ gets more Trump scorn

I have become immune to the outrage of Donald Trump’s Twitter fetish, so I won’t gripe that the president is tweeting his outrage yet again.

However, his continuing outrage at what he keeps calling the “fake media” is outrageous in the extreme.

The president went after the media’s coverage of Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russians and three Russian companies over their alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

C’mon, Mr. President! They’re doing their job. The media are part of the very system to which you belong!

They have a responsibility to report on what the special counsel is doing to discover all the facts surrounding the election, the Russian interference in our electoral process and whether there was any “collusion” between the Russians and the president’s campaign.

As for Trump’s criticism of the media reporting of the indictments, I hasten to add that the media have reported quite clearly that the indictments do not suggest there was collusion. To that end, the media have treated the president fairly — which means they have passed the second test of good journalism.

The first test is accuracy. On this matter, the media have done well, too.

So, Mr. President, shut up with the “fake news” mantra.

Unity remains a distant goal

Donald Trump vowed to deliver a speech this past week that would “unify” the nation.

It didn’t happen. He didn’t deliver. His State of the Union speech was met with disdain from roughly half of the room in which he spoke and about the same percentage from Americans at large, those of us who watched the speech from far away, on our TV screens.

It now begs the question: How are we ever going to be unified?

I believe it starts with the president of the United States.

We have one individual with a political constituency comprising the entire nation: it’s the president (and yes, you can include the vice president, too, given that these individuals run as a ticket).

But the president stands behind the bully pulpit. He is the one we listen to. He is the one with the message, the policy, the principles we look for. The president also is the one who is capable of delivering the message of unity.

It’s been one year and about two weeks since Donald Trump took the oath as president. How much has he done to unify the nation?

Practically nothing!

He blasts congressional Democrats for failing to cast any votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president ignores — he didn’t forget — that not a single Republican cast any votes to approve the ACA back in 2010.

Trump continues to pound away at the media, calling journalists the “enemy of the American people.” He undermines the media for reporting what he calls “fake news.” He plays directly to the base of supporters that continues to support him — no matter what!

The president uttered that hideous assertion that white supremacists/Nazis/Klansmen comprise “fine people.” Who in the world actually believes that utter crap — other than the president?

At his State of the Union speech, the president uttered a remarkably divisive comment, declaring that “Americans are dreamers, too.” How does someone who proposes to unify the country poke his proverbial finger in the eye of those U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children but who want to forge a path toward legal residency and even U.S. citizenship?

How can we reach a unified state? It must begin with the president. It’s the president who must set the tone.

It is not enough to declare your intention to unify a badly divided nation. It is incumbent on the head of state to deliver unity in the form of rhetoric that seeks to calm the storm.

The unity that Donald Trump proclaims he wants remains far in the distance. My fear is that this president is incapable of getting us to that point. He cannot function in such an environment.

Blast the leadership, you blast ‘rank and file,’ too

Donald Trump seeks to cherry pick his targets of scorn.

Such as the FBI and the Department of Justice. The president has been blasting the smithereens out of the “leadership” at the FBI and and at DOJ. But, oh, he says the “rank and file” are great.

His Twitter tirades make me yawn most of the time. However, I often cannot get past the idiocy of some of his messages.

We are witnessing a virtually unprecedented skirmish between the president and the nation’s elite law enforcement community. When the president assails the leadership of the FBI and the DOJ he infers — perhaps unwittingly — that the rank and file are carrying out the policies established by incompetent/crooked/biased leadership.

We are witnessing an intolerable slandering of professional law enforcement officials who do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

It’s not the first time Trump has trashed the troops on the front line of their professions.

He did the same thing to local election officials when he alleged without a scintilla of proof that “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, giving her the nearly 3 million popular vote margin she scored over the president. Before he actually won the election, the GOP presidential candidate suggested that a Clinton victory would be the result of a “rigged election.” Again, he managed to defame the hardworking local election officials who perform their duties with diligence, dignity and distinction.

Trump has slandered the media, too, in the same way. When he embarks on his “fake news” mantra, singling out individuals and specific news outlets, he scars all the rest of the media. He then tells us the only media outlets he trusts are those that decline to report news that he deems to be “negative.” In Trump World, “negative” equals “fake.” If the news isn’t positive, it’s untrue — as Trump views it through his bizarre prism.

Here we are now, with the president of the United States denigrating, disparaging and disrespecting the finest law enforcement establishment on Earth.

Never mind his thinly veiled equivocation that the “rank and file are great,” but that he’s targeting only the leadership.

He is denigrating all the professionals at every level with his dangerous tweets and other public pronouncements.

This man is a menace.

Once-flourishing craft is in serious peril

I am saddened by what I see happening to the craft I pursued for 37 years.

It’s in trouble. Print journalism as I pursued it is being eaten alive by technology it never saw coming back in the 1970s when I entered that line of work.

I won’t buy into the nutty notion that newspapers are no longer viable purveyors of information. They continue to do great work covering the news of the day. They continue to keep the public informed on policy matters that have direct impact on citizens of this country.

Nor will I accept the “fake news” mantra that keeps pouring out of the pie holes of conservative politicians who seek to discredit the media that are merely doing their job.

What is happening to newspaper saddens me because it need not happen in the manner that is occurring.

I want to point to the last stop on my career, the Amarillo Globe-News, as an example of what I see transpiring. The newspaper that once won print journalism’s greatest honor is now a mere shadow of its former self.

In 1960, the Globe-News actually comprised two newspapers: The Daily News and the Globe-Times. The Globe-Times captured the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service by exposing county government corruption. The paper was led by the legendary editor Tommy Thompson. If you look at the G-N’s building on Van Buren Street, you’ll see a plaque commemorating that honor.

But …

The Van Buren Street building is vacant. The paper’s new corporate owners, GateHouse Media, decided to move what is left of the newsroom across the parking lot to the company’s other office building facing Harrison Street. That structure has an inscription over its front door: “A newspaper can forgiven for lack of wisdom, but never for lack of courage.” That quote came from another legendary figure, Globe-Times publisher Gene Howe.

I was proud to work for the Globe-News for nearly 18 years. My career ended on Aug. 31, 2012. I resigned after being phased out of my job in a corporate reorganization.

The paper has continued to wither since then. It’s not because of my absence, but rather because — as I have viewed it — the paper has not kept pace with the changing information trends sweeping the world.

It sells far fewer copies each day than it did a decade ago. It publishes its daily editions with far fewer employees than it did even five years ago. The Globe-News no longer operates a printing press in Amarillo; its editions are printed in Lubbock and then shipped back to Amarillo for delivery to what remains of its subscriber list.

The newsroom used to operate in a different building from where the advertising department works. That was by design. When I arrived in January 1995 I was told that the newspaper wanted to keep the functions separate to protect the integrity of the news-gathering team. There would be no pressure to publish stories that advertisers might want.

Today? The depleted newsroom staff now sits side by side with an equally depleted advertising staff in the first-floor office space on Harrison Street.

My, how times have changed.

I am acutely aware that other media markets are undergoing tremendous pressures as well. Some major metro markets no longer even have newspapers delivered daily to subscribers’ homes.

They face pressure from the Internet, from cable TV news, from the plethora of outlets that provide information that could be legit — or it could be, um, fake.

Meanwhile, newspaper reporters and editors continue to do their jobs the way they were taught to do them. The problem, though, is that much of the public isn’t paying attention.

And a once-flourishing and proud craft is paying a grievous price.

I look at what is left of the place that served as my last stop on a career that gave me so much happiness and satisfaction — and I am saddened.

‘Fake News’ award highlights dangerous game

Donald Trump is engaging in a dangerous game that threatens the very fabric of our representative democracy.

He now is planning to hand out a “Fake News Award” to media outlets he says are putting out phony news stories.

This is where the president threatens the core of our system of government.

He refuses to accept the role of a free and unrestricted media in this society of ours. Preceding presidents have accepted that the media do their job by keeping public officials accountable. Their acceptance comes from politicians of both political parties. Republicans and Democrats who have served as president have known what Trump willingly ignores, which is that the media are part of our nation’s fabric.

Trump, though, keeps yapping and yammering about “fake news.” Even some of his contemporary politicians have implored him to cease the fake news mantra.

Trump unhinged

That won’t stop him. Nothing stops the president from popping off. Nothing seems to sink in.

Meanwhile, he threatens one of the tenets of a free society, which is that the media play a role in keeping politicians’ honest.

The president has become the bully in chief.

Unbecoming.

Dear Mr. President: Ditch the ‘fake news’ mantra

There you have it, Mr. President. That’s my New Year’s resolution for you to ponder … that is, if you read this blog.

I’ll try to shoot you a copy of it and hope you’ll take a moment to read it.

This “fake news” yammering you keep tossing out there is, um, tiresome, boring and oh so very lacking in self-awareness.

You, sir, are the master composer of fake news.

You have revived the lie about President Obama being born abroad and being unqualified to serve in the office he vacated nearly a year ago after serving two successful terms; you lied about Hillary Clinton getting votes from millions of illegal immigrants; you lied about witnessing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; you lied about losing “many friends” in the towers on that terrible day.

Don’t you get it, Mr. President? Every time you accuse the media of putting out fake news, you expose yourself to the very same accusation — which is tangibly and demonstrably more accurate than the bogus allegations you make about the media.

Why not start semi-fresh in 2018? You can do that by declaring your intention to stop repeating that phony mantra about fake news. It disserves the nation you were elected to lead and you vowed to “unify” after you took your oath of office.

You have failed to unify us, Mr. President. Pitting the media against America doesn’t make anything or anyone “great again.”

Happy New Year, Mr. President.

Now, get to work.

Free press: enemy of dictators, not the ‘people’

John McCain speaks with authority when he discusses freedom, the media, authoritarian regimes and liberty.

He lost more than five years of freedom at the hands of captors who held him in bondage during the Vietnam War.

He came home and stayed in service to his country, entering politics. He now serves in the U.S. Senate; he ran twice unsuccessfully for president of the United States. He now is held in high regard for his wartime heroism, his principled public service and his brave battle against cancer.

Comments he made earlier this year were rebroadcast today. He told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd that Donald Trump’s assaults on the media are destructive to our democratic system and they undermine one of the principles on which this country was founded.

Sen. McCain noted that the president’s bullying of the media and his habit of calling out individual journalists is counterproductive in the extreme.

He joked with Todd that he might “hate you,” but the country needs the media to be free of intimidation and it must be allowed to do its job without the kind of bullying that’s coming repeatedly from the president and his White House team.

Yet, the president insists on attacking the media. He continues to curry favor with the Fox News Channel while condemning the work being done by other media. Why? It’s obvious that Fox tilts toward the president and declines to ascribe much critical analysis of his policies. The network appears to many eyes — mine included — to be fulfilling Trump’s insatiable desire to be complimented, to be admired.

That’s not the role the media are supposed to play. The nation’s founders said a “free press” must not be controlled by the government in any fashion. They wrote it down, codifying it in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This independence enables the media to do their job. It allows them to hold public officials at all levels accountable. If they speak untruths, the media are compelled to call them on it.

Finally, they cannot be coerced into shying away from their responsibility because politicians — even the president — like to label them as “fake news.”

John McCain is far from the only contemporary politician who understands this tenet. The problem is that the country’s most powerful politician — the president — is poisoning the political process by trying to intimidate the media, which must remain free of such pressure.

As Sen. McCain told Todd: Trump’s bullying of the media is the conduct of a dictator.