Tag Archives: mainstream media

‘Enemies of the people’ answer the call

I feel the need to say a good word about the so-called “enemies of the American people.”

These are the men and women of the media who at this moment are placing themselves in harm’s way to report on the impact of Hurricane Florence as it slams the Carolina coast.

It should go without saying, that the media are there to report on the impact of the storm, to tell human stories of grit, courage, survival and heartache.

Except that the president of the United States has chosen to label the media unfairly as the “enemy.” Why? Because the media at times report news he deems to be negative. He calls negative news coverage “fake news.” He denigrates the hard work of these individuals.

Hurricane Florence is bringing considerable damage to the east coast, just as Hurricane Harvey did a year ago to the Gulf Coast, and as Hurricane Maria did in 2017 when it savaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands … and as Mother Nature does whenever she decides to unleash her untold wrath.

Americans who depend on the media need them to be there. Just as they do whenever circumstances warrant it, the media are answering the call.

They, too, deserve a nation’s prayers as they do their duty and tell the story as it unfolds in real time.

Why the mention of ‘Fox News’?

Is it me or do others hear the same thing from our friends and family members who like to invoke the name of “Fox News” whenever they refer to hearing something on the mainstream media.

I keep getting this specific media reference when the person with whom I am speaking about the news of the day.

You know what I’m talking about, yes?

You’re talking to someone about, oh, a particular event. It might have something to do with politics of public policy; or … it might not. The person to whom you are talking will say, “I heard something on Fox News about that … ”

The Fox News reference might be relevant. So many times, though, it is irrelevant. It lends nothing to whatever discussion is taking place. I generally feel no need to mention the source of whatever item I heard on cable or broadcast TV news networks.

But, hey, that’s just me … I guess.

To be candid, this kind of gratuitous mention of “Fox News” is about as relevant as the individual who says: “I was walking down the street and this colored guy waved at me.”

Do you get where I’m going with this?

It’s as if the Fox News devotees are trying to validate something about their broadcast/cable TV watching preferences. Or, it might be that my friends and family members — knowing that I do not watch Fox News — are trying to get under my skin.

I’m not irritated. I’m just, oh, curious.

Would a career have survived Donald Trump era?

I don’t think much any longer about the career I left behind nearly six years ago.

It was a fruitful, modestly successful career in print journalism. It ended quickly and unhappily — in the moment.

As I look back on it today and as I ponder the direction the nation took in November 2016 when it elected Donald John Trump to the presidency, I am actually grateful to have been “reorganized” out of a job I thought I was doing pretty well.

My question centers on this: Could I have survived in my position as editorial page editor of a conservative newspaper, serving a conservative community as Donald Trump campaigned for and then served in the highest office in the land?

The answer I am sure is a categorical, emphatic “No! As in hell no!”

Over the years I wrote editorials for newspapers in Texas and in Oregon I had to write opinions with which I disagreed. I wrote editorials endorsing candidates for public office who didn’t get my vote in the ballot box. I would compose editorial editorials about policy proclamations that I found objectionable; or I would write editorials against policies I supported.

That’s all part of working for The Man. Or, as a former colleague of mine once reminded me, “If you take the man’s money you play by the man’s rules.”

How would I have done during the presidency of Donald Trump?

Not well … at all!

I am trying to imagine how I would react if my corporate bosses had told me, “We’re going to endorse Trump over Hillary Clinton; please draft an editorial for us to examine before we publish it.”

Trump would have presented a serious dilemma for me. I cannot stand the thought of this man occupying the presidency, let alone making decisions that affect all Americans. It’s visceral, man. It’s personal. His prior record is replete with examples of fraud — moral, financial, you name it. He brought not a scintilla of interest — let alone record — of public service to the presidency.

How in the world could I possibly say anything positive about this guy? I cannot.

Yes, I have used this blog to speak positively since he became president. There have been damn few opportunities. I’ve taken them, but I’ll admit to swallowing hard prior to writing those positive words.

Could I have worked for an organization that throws its corporate support behind this charlatan/president and then demanded that I be the paper’s mouthpiece?

Not in a million years. Never.

Thus, I am glad to be on my own.

MSM now gets pounded … from the left!

The so-called “mainstream media” can’t get a break.

They’ve long been the punching bag for conservative media and fellow right-wing adherents, suggesting that the mainstream media were tools of the liberal/progressive left.

But, hey, get a load of this: Now the mainstream media are under attack from a noted liberal/progressive activist who blames the MSM for allowing Donald J. Trump to be elected president of the United States in 2016.

Welcome back to the fray, actor/comedian Rosie O’Donnell, an occasional target of Trump’s insults and barbs.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: Though speaking to MSNBC, the comedian did not shy away from critiquing the network for being one of the outlets that refused to be sufficiently critical of Trump. “It took you guys a long time to call him a liar, and the man’s been lying every single day since he’s been in office,” she argued.

Though the president and O’Donnell have notoriously feuded in the past, with Trump once referring to her as a “fat pig,” the comedian says she’s actually “never spoken” to Trump. “He was on my show once. …. But I never spoke to him in my life.”

So, there you have it. The mainstream media have been targeted from those on both ends of the political spectrum.

If I were still working for an MSM outlet, I would consider it a compliment.

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.