Tag Archives: media

Trump wages war on wrong foe

While the Russians are attacking our nation’s electoral process and the media report on it, who does the president of the United States declare to be the “enemy of the American people”?

The media. The folks who are doing their job. The individuals and their organizations that take their mission seriously.

A cable news network today ran a compilation of the various times Donald J. Trump disparaged the media. He calls reporters “dishonest,” he assails them for fomenting “fake news,” he said journalists don’t love their country.

The president’s scorched-Earth policy against the media has continued at a breakneck pace ever since he took office. You’ll recall how former White House press secretary Sean Spicer conducted his first press briefing by excoriating the media for way they reported on the size of the inaugural crowd that heard Donald J. Trump paint a grim picture of the nation he was elected to lead.

It’s been going downhill ever since.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot understand the president’s fixation with demonizing the media. All forms of media gave this clown a pass time and time again during the initial stages of his presidential campaign. Much of the media was complicit in allowing Trump to continue to lie through his teeth. They didn’t call him out.

Now that the media have awakened to the kind of man he always has been — a self-aggrandizing narcissist — they have done their job.

Trump’s response? He has launched a full-scale frontal assault on the organizations that almost all of his predecessors have recognized as being vital to the good health of a representative democracy.

The media aren’t the “enemy of the American people.” The real enemy — apart from the Russians who meddled in our election — is the president who seeks to discredit them.

How will history judge this presidency?

Is it too early to begin thinking about how history is going to judge Donald J. Trump’s term as president?

I think not.

We’re well into the second year of Trump’s time in office. I am beginning to ponder how history might end up categorizing this most unconventional, chaotic, tumult-filled presidency.

Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal; Gerald Ford restored a sense of decency in government; Jimmy Carter was bedeviled by the Iran hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan is remembered for restoring the nation’s sense of confidence; the Cold War ended on George H.W. Bush’s watch; Bill Clinton got impeached and he oversaw tremendous economic growth and the balancing of the federal budget; George W. Bush took us to war against terror after 9/11 and endured a financial collapse that rivaled the Great Depression; Barack Obama helped rescue the economy and ordered the death of the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

Trump’s time in office?

I have begun looking back on it and I keep coming up with a course that hasn’t yet been charted.

He took office in January 2017, delivering a grim and foreboding inaugural speech and then ratcheted up his war against the media. He has described reporters as the “enemy of the American people.”

He uses “fake news” to disparage anyone who reports anything negative about him. He has burned through several Cabinet secretaries and key White House advisers.

Trump awakens  every day and fires off tweets attacking anyone who sits in his crosshairs.

The president is facing a serious shellacking in the midterm election coming up later this year. Democrats might retake the U.S. House; the Senate is within reach, too. Then it might really, really rocky for the president as he sets up a re-election campaign for 2020.

He signed a tax cut into law. He has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He pulled us out of a deal that seeks to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Trump yanked the United States out of a climate accord signed by virtually every other nation on Earth.

Through all of this, the president refuses to acknowledge what intelligence officials have said already, that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election and has declared war against the FBI and the Department of Justice.

What a legacy — so far. I am quite certain we’ll have a whole lot more drama in store as this presidency heads toward the next election.

Stay tuned.

Presidents should understand value of a free press

Presidents have come and gone over the course of our beloved Republic.

Some tenets, though, remain affixed to our national identity. One of them is a free press and the guarantee that government cannot control it.

The video attached to this blog post offers an example of how one president, John F. Kennedy, understood how a free press is vital to guard against the darkness of secrecy. President Kennedy sought to defend the press as it did its job, even when its reporting cast his administration in a negative light.

The Bay of Pigs is an example of how the president likely wanted the press to look the other way. It didn’t. Nor could the president insist out loud and in public that it do that very thing. The Bay of Pigs was a disaster from the get-go. The military operation in April 1961 sought to overthrow the Fidel Castro government in Cuba. It was poorly planned and poorly executed. As JFK said at he time, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

The press reported the failure … as it should have done.

What a change we are seeing in the present day with one of JFK’s successors, Donald J. Trump, who insists that negative coverage is the product of “fake news,” which is a denigration of the men and women who take their jobs at least as seriously as the president takes his.

Trump doesn’t get what damn near all of his predecessors have understood. The press is vital to hold public officials accountable for their actions. Without the media doing their job, the government can do irreparable harm to our cherished Republic.

Creeped out by this video

This blog usually doesn’t spend too much time and cyberspace critiquing media coverage, but …

I want to make a brief exception.

TV networks have gone a bit too far in covering the fatal helicopter crash into the East River in New York City. Five passengers died when the chopper crashed into the river, tipping over and trapping the occupants in 39-degree water.

So, what did the cable and broadcast networks do? On the very day of the young people’s deaths they broadcast selfie videos shot by one of them, showing them smiling, laughing, carrying on and giving thumbs-up signs as they were lifting off for what was supposed to be a  joy ride over the city.

It wasn’t. I cannot imagine the horror they felt as they struggled to free themselves from the “safety harnesses” that tethered them to their seats.

I’m open to discussion on this, but for my taste, seeing those smiling faces just as they were about to die saddens me greatly. What’s more, I wonder if it is something I really need to see to appreciate the tragic consequence of this hideous event.

Any thoughts here?

Media don’t operate in a vacuum

I laugh when I hear Donald Trump’s supporters say the following: The media keep reporting on issues that don’t matter to the public.

How can I say it more clearly than this: They are wrong!

A Trumpkin said on CNN this afternoon that the media keep reporting on the Russia investigation because only the reporters, pundits and editors are interested in this issue. Rank-and-file Americans, he said, are more interested in other issues, such as the economy, global affairs, war and peace … those kinds of things.

Hold the phone, young man!

The media do not operate in a vacuum. The broadcast, cable and print media perform at the behest of their listeners, viewers and readers. The media do not march off to some cadence that only they hear.

I will put it another way: The media are for-profit institutions and organizations. They have shareholders, board members and corporate executives who are in the business of making money. Thus, they demand that their media representatives give the public what it wants. To that end, the media perform a public service and from my vantage point, the public is demanding accountability.

The media’s job is to report to the public what it demands.

When I hear these canards from Trump supporters that the media are off on some sort of “conspiracy” to topple the president, all I can do is shake my head in amazement.

I worked in print media full time for nearly 37 years. During that time I received my share of accusations of conspiracy to slant coverage or to undermine those with certain points of view. My answer usually fell along this line: We don’t have the time in my line of work to spend concocting conspiracies. It’s all we can do to get the paper out the back door every single day.

The same tenet holds true for broadcast media.

The media are doing their job. They are reporting the news the public wants to hear. When the day arrives that the public doesn’t want to know about the “Russia thing,” it will convey that preference to the media execs who will respond accordingly.

Oh, that POTUS is such a comedian

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has mounted a curious defense of Donald Trump’s penchant for profane name-calling.

He said the president “likes making funny names.”

Hey, Trump’s latest funny-name tirade this week included these two knee-slappers. He referred to “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd a “sleeping son of a bitch.” Oh, and then — at the same political rally in Pennsylvania — he described Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters as a “low-IQ individual.”

I cannot stop laughing. The president just cracks me up. What a card, a comedian. He needs to take his act on the road. Oh, wait! That’s what he did when he hurled those insults at (a) a prominent broadcast journalist and (b) a leader of the congressional Democratic caucus.

Mnuchin’s defense of Trump came, interestingly, on “Meet the Press,” the program Todd has moderated for the past several years. I didn’t watch it in real time. I’m quite sure that Todd didn’t crack up at Mnuchin’s defense of the president. Oh, no. Todd is too much of a pro to do something so stupid.

As Politico reports: “I’ve been with the president and at campaigns. You know, he likes to put names on people,” the Treasury secretary said. “He did that through the entire presidential election, including all of the Republicans that he beat. … These are campaign rally issues.” 

That is supposed to excuse the kind of hideous language that Trump spews? Give me a break.

“Campaign rally issues” often produce free-form rhetoric. However, we are talking here about the president of the United States of America. Isn’t this individual supposed to elevate the quality of political discourse?

Trump continues his unpresidential presidency

Can the president of the United States stoop even lower? Is it possible for Donald Trump to go beyond the pale in speaking with vile disregard for other human beings?

Yes and yes.

Trump today decided to take on “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, calling him a “sleeping son of a bitch” at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

He went after the media yet again for its coverage of a planned meeting between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He impaled several cable and broadcast networks, saving praise — of course! — for the Fox News Channel.

Yes, the president has “treated” the nation yet again to a demonstration of how little regard he has for the office he occupies.

Calling a respected news anchor a “sleeping SOB”? Is this clown — and I’m talking about Trump — for real?

Sadly, the answer is yes. He’s very much for real.

Oh, but he’s “telling it like it is.”

Despicable.

Yes, the White House is at ‘war’ with the media

White House press secretaries have a singular mission, which is to convey the message of the president to the American public.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is now performing that task to mixed reviews. Those who support Donald Trump’s agenda applaud her; those (of us) who don’t, well, we jeer her.

I’ll offer this jeer, therefore, to Sanders for saying that the White House is not “at war” with the media. Sure thing, Mme. Press Secretary.

Then, why does the president declare that the media are “the enemy of the American people”? Why does he keep insisting that media reports he finds objectionable come from what he refers to as “fake media”? Why does he disparage reporters individually, by name, along with their organizations?

Good grief, Sarah! The president declared war on the media long ago. The first press flack, Sean Spicer, fired the first barrage on Day One of the Trump administration when he challenged the media reporting of the size of the Trump inaugural crowd!

I am pretty certain the media believe they are in a state of “war” with the administration. Whether the White House’s “fine-tuned machine” believes it ignores what many of the rest of us realized long ago.

Sanders took part in a discussion of White House media relations with Mike McCurry, press secretary for the Clinton administration. McCurry, not surprisingly, took issue with Sanders’s assertion that there is no warfare taking place. He said the White House criticizes media reporting “every day,” which he considers to be a form of media war.

Read The Hill’s story here.

I am one of those former media guys who knows White House combat with the press when he sees it.

Thus, I believe Sarah Sanders is, um, quite wrong while she parrots the White House line on its relationship with the media.

Blog continues to provide therapy

Readers of High Plains Blogger know that I have taken a dim view of Donald John “Braggart in Chief” Trump’s penchant for boasting.

Thus, I’m going to beg your forgiveness for a brief moment.

I want to boast a bit myself.

This blog set an annual record for page views and visitors in 2017. During the year the blog set a monthly record as well, while during month posting a best-ever daily average.

How, then, is High Plains Blogger doing as the first month of 2018 draws to a close? Pretty darn well.

There’s a chance the blog will finish the month with its second-best performance. I’ll take that as a victory.

High Plains Blogger will continue to offer its blend of commentary on public policy, current events and life experience — even after my wife, Toby the Puppy and I relocate to an undetermined place in North Texas.

I’m still wrestling with whether I should change the blog’s name. It no longer will originate from the High Plains of Texas. I am proud, though, that High Plains Blogger’s name has developed a recognizable brand.

If I change its name, you’ll be the first to know.

But writing this blog provides me with a sort of therapy. I spent an entire career stringing sentences together. Much of that time involved writing opinion pieces, whether editorials on behalf of the newspapers where I worked — in Oregon and Texas — or in columns that ran under my own name.

Thus, High Plains Blogger helps keep my head in the game.

Make no mistake, there remains plenty of issues on which to chew.

Life is just so good. As the saying goes: If I were doing any better … I’d be twins.

Listen to this ‘hero,’ Mr. President

John McCain quite likely is spittin’ into the wind.

But he is as correct as he can be. Donald J. Trump must stop attacking the media. Sen. McCain believes the president of the United States is giving political cover to repressive regimes abroad who seek to do the very same thing that Trump is doing — which is discrediting the media.

McCain writes in The Washington Post: “This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase ‘fake news’ — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens.”

Of course, Trump isn’t likely to heed words of wisdom from a man he once denigrated, calling him a Vietnam War “hero” only because “he was captured” and held as a prisoner by North Vietnam for more than five years.

Does the president get this? Does he give a damn about the damage he does when he declares the media to be the “enemy of the American people”? Does the president understand the traditional role that the media play in ensuring government accountability?

I’m pretty sure it be would “no!” on all three questions.

Which makes Sen. McCain’s plea all that more poignant.

Even if it is futile.

Frightening.