Tag Archives: media

And then there’s this: A teenager is found alive!

Not all the news is ever totally depressing. Even with the media focusing on the government shutdown and the agony of furloughed federal employees and the debate over The Wall, we can find something to cheer . . . loudly!

Jayme Closs has returned home. The 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped from her home in Wisconsin was found after she placed a 9-1-1 call to say she had been abducted. Indeed, she was taken from her home in October.

Police have arrested a 21-year-old man and will charge him with kidnapping and the brutal murder of Jayme’s parents.

Girl was a target

I watched the coverage of police reporting her recovery. Barron County (Wis.) Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald could barely contain his joy at finding Jayme alive — and as well as one could expect the girl to be after being missing for three months.

He kept using the term “awesome,” and apologized for being unable to find another word to describe his joy and pride in the work that was done to find the girl.

I found it fascinating, too, that he sread the thanks around the room. He offered gratitude to the FBI agents who were lined up behind him, to the various local investigators who he said worked 24/7 to find Jayme. They didn’t just come to work and go home, he said. They were at it constantly, according to the sheriff.

He called it a “team effort,” and then he pointed to the media representatives gathered in front of them and said they, too, were “part of the team” that helped police recover Jayme Closs.

Imagine that. The media did their job and received an expression of thanks from law enforcement for their persistent chronicling the drama to the community that today is breathing a heavy sigh of relief and gratitude.

A nation is relieved as well, even as a shaken little girl recovers from her loss.

Time of My Life, Part 7: Chasing the cops

When you’re a young reporter, you occasionally find yourself responding in ways to certain circumstances that surprise you as you grow older.

One day after work in 1978, my wife and I were driving home to southeast Portland from Oregon City, Ore., where I worked as a reporter for the long-departed Enterprise-Courier. We were riding in a borrowed car, a big Ford Galaxy sedan my editor loaned to me while my car was being repaired.

We were heading north on Interstate 205 when suddenly a Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department cruiser sped by with lights flashing and a siren blaring; then a second one zoomed past us; then, believe it, a third cruiser roared by with lights and siren going.

I thought, “Holy crap! Something is going on!” I floored my editor’s Galaxy. The front end of the big ol’ beast rose up and we quickly got up to a speed of about, oh, 85 mph.

My wife plunged into the back seat and began pulling out my camera, notebook and pen.

We got right behind the third sheriff’s cruiser in the line of cars responding to something; we had no clue where we were going or what we would see. As the cars roared through traffic, with us right behind them, we were able to keep pace with the officers as they raced to whatever it was to which they were responding.

We exited the freeway at Damascus, and headed down the highway eastward. Then we got to our destination.

We saw a car overturned on the highway, wheels up. Paramedics were tending to a young man who was lying on the shoulder of the road. I managed to snap several pictures of the scene, took some notes from the police, fire and medical personnel on the scene, then got the details the next morning from the sheriff’s office. The young man recovered from his injury.

I want to share this story here to remind you that young reporters occasionally do things that might appear foolish — such as chasing police cars at high speeds through traffic!

When they do, they often produce stories worth chronicling to the communities they serve.

I have to say that the chase gave my wife and me a serious rush.

Actually, Mr. POTUS, it’s all ‘legal’

Donald J. Trump continues to fly off the rails with his ongoing assault on the media.

Here is what he posted this morning on Twitter: A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?

If you can past the mangled syntax of this tweet, I’ll provide a simple explanation of why the president — as usual — is dead wrong.

Mr. President, it’s all “legal.” It’s protected by the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment says the government cannot interfere with what a “free press” reports. It says media freedom shall not be “abridged.”

How in the world do the courts rule on the accuracy of media reports? There is no defamation here. There is no slander. No libel.

I get that the president is uncomfortable with the tone of much of the media coverage.

One more time — but most certainly not the final time: It goes with the territory, Mr. President. The media are on duty to do precisely what they are doing at this moment. They are seeking to hold you and your administration accountable for your actions, your rhetoric and the myriad promises you make.

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!