Tag Archives: media

Media have become part of the story? Sad

Jim Acosta is now a household name.

He is known to many Americans who by all rights shouldn’t really know — or really give a hoot — about someone who is just doing his job.

Acosta is chief White House correspondent for CNN, the cable news outlet that has been demonized by the president of the United States. Donald Trump has singled Acosta out as a “rude, terrible person” who conveys “fake news” for a network that should be “ashamed” to employ him.

This is not supposed to happen. Journalists get paid to report the news, not to become part of the news. It’s a trend that has been developing and evolving for some time, even pre-dating Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Trump, though, has elevated this phenomenon to a level that many of us don’t understand or even recognize.

The White House has yanked Acosta’s press pass because he allegedly put his hands on a young intern who tried to grab a microphone from him Wednesday during a combative presidential news conference. I watched the incident as it happened; I didn’t see Acosta do anything of the sort.

Acosta isn’t the only reporter to be singled out by the president. April Ryan, a veteran political reporter, got roughed up by Trump on Wednesday. So did PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

There have been others. CNN’s Jake Tapper has felt the wrath of the president, who routinely blasts “failing” media outlets that publish or broadcast news reports the president deems to be “too negative.” Reporters for other broadcast and cable networks have been tagged as openly hostile. He calls them false, fake, a hoax.

Who’s to blame for this ridiculous turn of events? I lay this at the president’s feet. He has chosen to declare open rhetorical warfare on the media, the constitutionally protected profession he has labeled the “enemy of the American people.”

The president’s continuing hostility against the media only feeds the beast, if you will. He can end this idiotic feud simply by accepting that the media are going to report the news without regard to whether their reporting is favorable or unfavorable.

The media shouldn’t be part of the story.

Reporters, furthermore, shouldn’t become household names.

Way more than ‘bomb stuff,’ Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump has this way of denigrating everyone and seemingly every matter of importance.

The terrorizing of Democratic political figures with pipe bombs is pretty damn critical … don’t you think? I do.

Yet the president put a Twitter message out this morning that referred to it as “bomb stuff” while lamenting the possible drag this crisis might have on the future of Republican politicians competing in the midterm election.

Wow! Amazing, if you ask me.

What’s more, I was glad to hear FBI Director Christopher Wray snuff out the idiotic notion being tossed around by right-wing politicians and media that the pipe bombs were a hoax, that the crisis was the product of a shadow liberal/progressive conspiracy to make Republicans look bad.

Wray said in no uncertain terms that is not the case. The bombs were real. The suspect they arrested today in Florida is known to be a Donald Trump supporter. Whoever sought to terrorize the Democratic pols, including two former presidents and CNN intended to terrorize them — if not harm them outright if the devices ever exploded.

This is a serious degradation of the political discourse. It is far worse than mere “bomb stuff.” The president should know better than to say such a thing … but he doesn’t.

Editorial boards need not reflect the community

A friend of mine challenged a blog item I posted earlier today that called attention to the Dallas Morning News’s endorsement of Beto O’Rourke in this year’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.

My friend noted that “of course DMN” would back the Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Dallas County voted Democratic in 2016, as well as in 2012 and 2008. The paper, my friend noted, was going with the community flow.

I felt compelled to remind him that newspaper editorial boards — at least in my experience — do not necessarily strive to reflect the community’s leaning.

The example I gave him involved my nearly 11 years in Jefferson County, the largest county of the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas.

I worked for the Beaumont Enterprise, serving as editorial page editor. On my watch, the Enterprise endorsed Republican presidential candidates in three elections: 1984, 1988 and 1992, even though Jefferson County voters endorsed by significant majorities the Democratic candidates for president in all three elections. I told my friend the following: So … newspapers do not always reflect the communities’ political leaning. They adhere to their own philosophy or — more to the point — to their ownership’s philosophy.

So it was in 1984 particularly, when the publisher told us point blank that we were going to recommend President Reagan’s re-election. There would be no discussion. A different publisher told us the same thing in 1988 and 1992: We were going to endorse George H.W. Bush for election in ’88 and for re-election in ’92.

That’s how it works. The newspaper and its corporate ownership march to their own cadence, not necessarily the drumbeat of the community it serves. I went to Amarillo in January 1995 and learned the same thing, although the Texas Panhandle is even more solidly Republican than the Golden Triangle was solidly Democratic in the 1980s and early 1990s.

What’s more, Morris Communications, which owned the Amarillo Globe-News until 2017, is far more wedded to conservatives and Republicans than the Hearst Corporation, which still owns the Beaumont Enterprise.

It is true that Dallas County has tilted Democratic in recent election cycles. It also is true that the Dallas Morning News has endorsed plenty of conservative candidates and stood behind plenty of conservative issues over many years.

The Morning News is not a doctrinaire publication. Although I do not know what transpired when the paper’s editorial board deliberated over whom to endorse in this year’s Senate contest, I know that the published record reflects an editorial board that is far from rigid in its political outlook.

Believe me, I know a rigid media organization when I see one. I’ve worked for them.

POTUS’s call for ‘unity’ falls a bit short

Well, the president had a chance to make some serious amends for his contribution to the poisonous rhetoric that has infected our political discourse.

As usual, he fell short of the mark.

Donald Trump opened a political rally in Wisconsin tonight by calling for “peace and harmony.” He decried the discovery of bombs sent to the offices of Democratic officeholders, a key activist, and the CNN offices in New York City. That’s all good. I applaud the president’s effort on that score.

But then he failed to acknowledge his own role in creating the political toxicity. He didn’t mention how he has applauded the violence of a Montana congressman on a reporter, or how he has endorsed numerous other acts of physical intimidation.

Nope. He didn’t go there.

POTUS falls short

He railed against what he said “both sides” and the media are responsible. I agree that partisans on both sides have contributed to the toxic atmosphere. The media? Well, they have done their job, even if it includes publishing or broadcasting “negative” stories about the Trump administration. The president is not having any of the negative coverage, which he calls — in a fit of unfairness — “fake news.”

He ought to retract his statement that the media are “the enemy of the people.” He knows better than that, but he says it anyway, knowing that it fires up his political base.

So, what now? We’ll find out as the president continues to campaign for Republican candidates in this year’s midterm election. He wants them to win, but at what cost? Will he continue to denigrate, disparage and dismiss his foes as unpatriotic? Will he continue to foment fear and anger?

If he means what he says about his quest for “peace and harmony,” he can deliver the goods from any podium behind which he stands while bellowing his political rhetoric.

A tip of the hat to the ‘enemy of the people’

I want to tip my proverbial hat to the media, the institutions labeled by the president as the “enemy of the American people.”

They continue to do their jobs. The men and women who practice their noble craft do it with honor and distinction.

The New York Times has just published an astonishing — and lengthy in the extreme — article that peels the bark off the disguise under which Donald Trump hid while campaigning for the presidency.

He told Americans he is a “self-made business success.” The Times story tells an entire different tale, that Donald Trump relied heavily on the generosity of his late father, Fred, and that he manipulated the tax system to obtain cushy deals all along the way.

Now, to be sure none of this likely will change the political balance. Anti-Trump Americans — such as me — will use the material to criticize the president; pro-Trump Americans will use it to bash the media. Trump himself will bash the media and the Times specifically. That’s his modus operandi. It stinks.

However, the media continue to step up. They continue to do what their professional journalists are trained to do. They are holding government accountable.

Every one of Donald Trump’s predecessors as president has understood the media’s role in building our representative democracy and their contributions to strengthening it.

Exhaustive and meticulous reporting by media outlets such as The New York Times demonstrate for all the world the power of a free press, the only privately held business expressly protected against government interference/bullying/coercion in the U.S. Constitution.

None of this, of course, will dissuade Donald Trump from demonizing the media. He’ll continue to speak of what he calls “fake news,” even though he is the No. 1 purveyor of outright lies and prevarication.

Many of the rest of us know better. The media are standing tall. I am proud to have been a member of the 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.

‘What wars have we started?’

Allow me to throw a bouquet at Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” who this morning asked national security adviser John Bolton a most pertinent question.

“What wars have we (the media) started,” Wallace asked Bolton, who — quite expectedly — dodged the question, avoided giving a direct answer.

The question came from a tweet fired off this morning by Donald J. Trump, who said the following:

The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

The danger and sickness, allow me to respond, are coming from the president of the United States, whose Twitter messages are sounding increasingly hysterical and detached from reality.

According to The Hill: “That’s the president’s view, based on the attacks the media has made,” Bolton responded, citing past administrations that have clashed with the media.

“I think this kind of adversarial relationship is typical,” he added.

What is not typical is for the president of the United States to accuse the media of potentially causing “war” by offering critical analysis and commentary of public policy.

Scary, man!

Media have become part of ‘the story’

I long have hated the notion of the media becoming part of the story they are covering. Yet that’s what is happening in the current tumult involving Donald J. Trump, the “enemy of the people” and those in the media who love taking pot shots at each other.

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta, a frequent target of the president’s barbs, fired off this tweet aimed at competitor Sean Hannity, a commentator at Fox News:

Hannity is a propagandist for profit, peddling lies every night. He says he’s just a talk show host, not a journalist. But he’s injecting poison into the nation’s political bloodstream warping public attitudes about the press. I’m confident in the long run the truth will prevail.

Never mind that I happen to agree with Acosta. Hannity is every bit the “propagandist” that Acosta calls him. He is riddled with conflicts of interest, given his professional relationship with Trump’s former confidant, Michael Cohen, and his continuing personal friendship with the president himself.

But, I digress. No need to rehash what you know to be the obvious, which is that I detest Hannity.

Still, I do not like the notion of the media becoming the story in and of themselves. I am a rather old-fashioned sort of guy. I prefer the media simply cover the story to which they are assigned. Report the news. If the subject of their coverage objects to the tone, the tenor or the timing of the story, let ’em rant. Don’t respond. Don’t fire back.

Of course, Trump has ratcheted up the criticism to an unacceptable level. This idiotic mantra about the media being the “enemy of the people” is unhealthy, unAmerican, unpatriotic and totally unacceptable. And for this president, the purveyor in chief of lies and prevarication, to blame others for reporting “fake news” gives hypocrisy a bad name.

That all said, the nature of the media’s role as watchdogs for the public has evolved to a form that makes me quite uncomfortable.

‘Very unpatriotic’ media? Really, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump fired off a series of tweets in which he tears into the media, the so-called “enemy of the people.”

They say in part:

When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk! Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news … accurately. 90% of media coverage of my Administration is negative, despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving, it’s no surprise that confidence in the media is at an all time low! I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters …”

I want to focus briefly on the “very unpatriotic” label he has hung on the media.

It is quite “patriotic,” actually, for the media to report fully, critically and analytically about the government. For the president, moreover, to suggest that the media doing their job jeopardizes the lives and safety of Americans is an absolutely insane — not to mention idiotic — assertion.

The jeopardy stems from the president’s incessant attack on a “free press” that constitutes bullying and coercion in the extreme of the only private business offered specific protection from government interference in the U.S. Constitution.

The only “enemy of the people” I can find in this context occupies the chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office. Yes, I know that millions of Americans bristle at the criticism launched at Trump. Millions of other Americans, however, remain committed to understanding what the government is doing to us — or for us.

Those Americans depend on an unfettered and patriotic “free press” to tell them.

White House sinks to new level of juvenile petulance

A reporter for CNN has found out she has friends.

Her colleagues are standing with her in the wake of a petulant White House decision to bar her from a press event in the Rose Garden.

What got Kaitlin Collins in trouble with the White House? She asked some tough questions. That’s it, man! She was doing her job.

Well, the White House banishment of her hasn’t gone over well. Get a load of this statement from Fox News, the favorite cable network of Donald John Trump Sr: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press” Fox President Jay Wallace says in statement.

A “free and unfettered press” needs “full access” to the people in power. Yep, they do. Jay Wallace’s defense of Collins is spot on.

Donald Trump is demonstrating time and again that he possesses the thinnest skin in a president since, oh, Richard M. Nixon. That goes back more than four decades. President Nixon was known to exact revenge against media members, particularly the Washington Post, which led the journalistic investigation into that “third-rate burglary” known as Watergate.

This president, No. 45, is setting a new standard for presidential petulance.

As The Hill reported: “Wannabe tyrant Donald Trump is banning reporters he doesn’t like from official press events,” McGovern tweeted. “Journalists like [CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins] ask questions not just for their news outlet, but on behalf of all Americans.”

“Shutting them out is a slap in the face to our democracy,” he added.

Except that the president shows us damn near daily that he is ignorant of the value that a free press brings to a free society.