Tag Archives: mainstream media

Conversation (continued) …

I’ve told you already about a fellow I met the other morning. We covered a lot of ground in the 10 or 12 minutes we chatted.

It centered mostly on the congressional hearing involving FBI agent Peter Strzok and his role in the Robert Mueller investigation into the “Russia thing.”

He mentioned he has been retired for 20 years. Then he asked me if I was retired. “Yes,” I said. “I’m a retired journalist. I was a member of the ‘Mainstream Media,'” I added.

He nodded. “Ahhh, that explains why you’re a liberal,” he said.

I stopped him. “No, sir. My job didn’t define me. My inherent bias is what informs my world view,” I told him.

He had described himself as a “libertarian,” who wasn’t aligned with Democrats or Republicans.

It dawned on me a long time ago, but his assumption that my more progressive/liberal tendencies are a result of my occupation drives home a key point.

Conservatives are winning the war of ideologies. They have succeeded in tarring media representatives and outlets as inherently “liberal.” The “liberal media” get blamed for all that is wrong with journalism.

My own view of the term “mainstream media,” though takes a different approach. I long have considered the “mainstream media” to be a much more diverse bunch than the way conservatives label them. I include many conservative-leaning outlets among members of the “mainstream media”: Fox News, The Weekly Standard, The National Review all belong to the MSM; I also might throw in Breitbart News just to get folks’ pulse to race a bit.

Indeed, I worked for three newspaper groups with ownership that was decidedly not liberal in its outlook. Scripps League Newspapers was run by an elderly scion from the E.W. Scripps newspaper empire; then I went to work for the Hearst Corp., another right-leaning outfit; my career ended while working for Morris Communications, which was a far-right-leaning organization led by a man who is the product of the “old South,” if you get my drift.

The media are as diverse as any other craft.

The gentleman with whom I had this exchange over the weekend likely didn’t intend to paint us all with such a broad brush … but he did.

I don’t yet know if I’ll see him again. If I do, I might take the time to inform him of my own view of what comprises the “mainstream media.”

I suppose I could ask him: If the “liberal mainstream media” are so powerful and pervasive, how do all those conservatives keep getting elected to public office?

‘Deep State’ emerges as villain

I was waiting for this to occur.

A member of Congress, a Republican and a founder of something called the Freedom Caucus, has now accused the “Deep State” of conspiring to get him tossed out of Congress.

Several former Ohio State University wrestlers say they were sexually abused by a team doctor and that Jim Jordan — an assistant coach at the time — looked the other way. They say he did nothing to stop it.

Gordon says the Deep State is working to conspire against him.

Who or what is the Deep State? I understand it is supposed to mean those in power who are immune from voters’ wishes. Wikipedia describes it thusly: It is a term used “within political science to describe influential decision-making bodies believed to be within government who are relatively permanent and whose policies and long-term plans are unaffected by changing administrations.”

So, it’s the Deep State at work against Jordan, a champion of the little guy. Right along with Donald J. Trump, the billionaire who became president after spending his entire professional life engaged exclusively in self-enrichment, self-glorification, self-aggrandizement and self-adoration.

The Deep State has now become a throwaway term. It’s right up there with the “mainstream media” and the “Washington elite.”

Deep State is fairly new to the American political vernacular, even to those who spend a good bit of time studying politics and the people who practice it.

However, like most conspiracy theories, any Deep State notion presumes that its members — whoever the hell they are — are able to concoct some plot, execute it and then keep it all secret.

This notion is as nutty as the conspiracies that linger over the murder of President Kennedy, that President Bush masterminded the 9/11 attack or that President Obama was born in Africa.

Deep State? It’s fake news, man!

Waiting for the pundits’ new cliches

I watch a lot of TV news shows. Maybe that’s to my discredit, given that my wife and are holed up at the moment in an RV and the weather outside has been too cold to do much of anything.

What I am hearing is beginning to bore me to sleep.

I keep hearing the TV talking heads — the pundits, if you please — repeating the same “cool” words and phrases they like hearing themselves and each other say.

“At the end of the day” remains at the top of my list of phrases to jettison.

“Walking back” a statement is another one that is gaining ground in the toss-it-on-the-scrap-heap contest.

There also are “cool words” that seem to crop up in pundit-speak. “Kalashnikov” is one of them. It kind of rolls off the tongue and when I hear pundits and/or commentators mention the weapons used on a battlefield, they are bound to mention “Kalashnikov” rifles because they like sound of the name. Admit it: You know what I’m talking about.

Here is one of my latest “favorites.” It’s when Congress and the president keep “kicking the can down the road.” This usually refers to non-decisions they make regarding budget matters.

Congress cannot get a long-term budget approved. The president cannot persuade anyone on Capitol Hill to do anything. What happens? They end up “kicking the can down the road,” which is code for “failing to do their job.”

Come to think of it, why don’t the talking heads just say it loudly and proudly, that our government leaders are, um, you know … ?

The pundits sit around those tables talking to each other and they speak in that strange jargon that they use with each other or when they’re on the air talking to you and me.

Look, I’m not a grammarian. I don’t pretend to be a wordsmith in the mold of a Faulkner, Steinbeck, a George Will or a William F. Buckley. I tend as well to fall back into habit-forming word usage and phraseology.

I suppose if I’m patient enough, new phrases will sprout, kind of like weeds in the garden. We’ll all know them when the pundits keep repeating themselves.

‘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.

Happy Trails, Part 64

A friend of mine writes that he is fearful of watching the film “The Post.” He doesn’t want to sob out loud over what he describes as the demise of a noble craft and the state of play in the nation today.

“The Post” tells the story of the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, which documented the deceit and deception that guided U.S. policy in fighting the Vietnam War. It stars Meryl Streep as Post publisher Katherine Graham and Tom Hanks as the paper’s editor, Ben Bradlee.

I admire my friend greatly and he knows of my great personal affection and professional respect for him.

I want to differ just a bit with his analysis of the film and what it might to do to his state of mind. I want to see the film, because I want to remember the excitement I felt reporting on communities where I lived and worked; I want to remember how much satisfaction I received while chronicling the communities’ progress.

Yes, there were times when I was working as a reporter and later, as an editor, when I sweated telling the tough stories about officials’ conduct. I never felt comfortable doing it, but I usually found a way to suck it up, take a deep breath and plod ahead in pursuit of the mission.

One story stands out. It involved a young businessman in Amarillo who, shortly after leaving the City Commission, secured a grant from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which offered taxpayer funds for start-up businesses. We perceived that the former city commissioner might have used his influence improperly to secure the grant. We decided to call him on it with an editorial that called for a change in the way the EDC vetted those grant applications.

I told the ex-commissioner that we would comment on the grant and that he might not like what we had to say. “When am I going to become just a private citizen?” he asked with more than a touch of anger in his voice. I responded, “When you stop taking public money.”

Oh, and the EDC did rework its grant application and approval process. Mission accomplished!

Yes, the media have taken a vastly different turn since those days. Newspapers, as many old-school journalists knew them, are fading faster than yesterday’s news.

However, I wouldn’t surrender a single day for the career I chose to pursue after I returned home in 1970 from my stint in the U.S. Army. It was a hell of a great ride. It was full of adventure, a bit of chaos. It exposed me to the most interesting people imaginable. It allowed me to travel to exotic places. I made many lasting friendships and I learned from many mentors along the way.

Will watching “The Post” sadden me? Not for an instant. It will make me proud to have been a small part of a grand craft.

Press aide goes for the throat against media

Now she’s done it.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the fiery White House press secretary, has now accused journalists and their bosses of “deliberately” reporting false news stories to advance an agenda.

Think of this for a moment. This is the White House’s front person with the media, the person who is supposed to develop a healthy professional relationship with those who report on the goings-on within the White House.

And by “healthy,” I don’t mean necessarily an always-positive relationship. “Healthy” implies that a certain two-way respect between sources and those who report on what they say and do.

The media-White House relationship should be listed in critical condition. At best.

White House at war with media

I am presuming that Sanders is speaking for Donald John Trump when she makes such hideous assertions. What she has done on the president’s behalf is accuse these professional journalists of violating the very tenets they vowed to uphold when they signed on to their craft.

Sanders said the media are “purposefully misleading the American people” by publishing and broadcasting reports that reporters and editors know are false.

I toiled in journalism for nearly four decades. Did I make mistakes while reporting the news? Sure I did. Did I correct them? Yes. Were any of them the result of some intent to advance a political agenda? Never.

I know I am speaking only for myself. I cannot know how others did their job, except that I always have accepted that other mainstream journalists adhered to a pledge that they would report truthfully and fairly.

To hear the White House press secretary assert that White House beat reporters are acting with deceit and dishonor is beyond offensive.

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

POTUS has sunk yet again to another new low

Donald John (Internet Bully in Chief) Trump has done it yet again.

He has demonstrated that there is no bottom to the level of crassness he is able and quite willing to exhibit on social media.

The president of the United States of America has decided to engage in a vile insult campaign against a member of the media, this time suggesting this individual was “bleeding from a facelift.”

The target is Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC morning talk show “Morning Joe.” What did Trump say about this women, whose father, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, recently died? He called her “Crazy Mika” and said she and her co-host, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough, wanted to spend some time at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. “She was bleeding badly from a facelift. I said no,” Trump said this morning on Twitter.

Read the NY Times story here.

According to the Times: The graphic nature of the president’s suggestion that Ms. Brzezinski had undergone plastic surgery was met with immediate criticism on social media. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wrote on Twitter, “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.” And a spokesman for NBC News, Mark Kornblau, wrote on Twitter: “Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, ‘It is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States.’”

I am running out of ways to express my revulsion over the president’s conduct. His “war” against the media rages on.

This individual was elected to the nation’s highest office. It demands respect from those of us who revere what it stands for. It also would seemingly demand respect from those who occupy it. That the current White House resident, the commander in chief of our armed forces, our head of state and government would resort to this kind of ghastly insult campaign denigrates the office to a whole new level.

Now, I fully expect some criticism of this blog post from those out there who are going to change the subject by suggesting that other presidents have acted badly while holding this office. Spare me the diversionary tactic. This has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with the here and now — and the individual who was elected to be our national ambassador on the world stage.

If only I could expect that there is nothing more hideous that the president can do. Sadly, I now fully expect him to go even lower.

Let’s all just wait for it.

‘Russia thing’ is producing a form of vertigo

I no longer am an active member of the so-called “mainstream media.”

Thus, I am merely a watcher and reader of news. So help me, though, the speed and intensity of the “breaking news” that keeps busting out is making my head spin.

I refer to the Donald Trump/Russia/Jared Kushner/Michael Flynn/FBI director firing/special counsel elements that keep bursting out with bombshell after bombshell.

I’ll just say that I am immensely proud of the media’s role in revealing these stories. The New York Times and the Washington Post news staffs have been performing an immense public service in their work to root out all the information they can find.

Good on ’em. Keep up the great work.

For now, though, I think I’ll need a dose of Dramamine.