Tag Archives: NBC News

Answer to your question is easy, Mr. POTUS

Donald John Trump fired off another in an endless string of tweets.

He writes: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

I can answer that one, Mr. President. It’s never appropriate! Especially not from someone in your position!

NBC News reported that Trump wants to increase the nation’s nuclear stockpile, apparently in response to growing threats from North Korea. The president denies it. NBC stands by its story.

POTUS goes on the attack

Trump calls it “fake news,” which has become his favorite throwaway line to disparage anything he deems negative.

What is “bad for country” is for the president to bully the media, to seek to push reporters, editors and assorted news executives around with threats against their profession.

The president needs to layer on some additional skin. It’s tough out there, man. You ought to know that. Moreover, you ought to accept critical reporting as being part of your job.

Now it’s Rex vs. the ‘Moron’

If you sit in the quietest room you can find, take very shallow breaths and don’t move a muscle, you just might be able to hear the “tick, tick, tick” of a clock.

It would be a device that is ticking down the time that Rex Tillerson has remaining as the country’s secretary of state.

The nation’s top diplomat reportedly thinks his boss, the president, is a “moron.” He said as much in a Pentagon meeting this past summer. He reportedly cannot fathom why Donald J. Trump says and does certain things.

Then, when given a chance today to disavow what NBC News has reported about the “moron” comment, he didn’t do so. He said only that he doesn’t discuss “petty things.” Tillerson said he won’t go there.

He made no denial. He didn’t declare that he believes the president is a genius. No. The “moron” comment stands.

How does any president of the United States — let alone one named Trump — handle this? How should he handle it?

If I were a betting man, I would guess that Rex Tillerson has just written his exit interview from the Department of State.

One can argue all day and half the night into whether Tillerson has done a good job at State. However, I feel quite confident that a lot of Americans way out here past the D.C. Beltway believe as he reportedly does about the president of the United States.

Lift the Jones Act and help Puerto Rico

The United States has a humanitarian disaster unfolding and 3.5 million U.S. citizens are being put in mortal peril.

That peril is potentially being exacerbated by an arcane law that needs to be wiped off the books.

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. It requires supplies — food, potable water, clothing and goods that fulfill basic human needs — shipped there from the United States of America. But the Jones Act restricts shipping between U.S. ports by requiring shipping to be built by Americans and to have U.S. citizens as its owners and crew members.

Critics of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act suggest that it is inhibiting relief supplies from being shipped to Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory and whose residents are U.S. citizens.

NBC News reports: Signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson two years after World War I ended, the Jones Act was passed as a protective measure against foreign competition, particularly Germany. By restricting domestic trade to U.S.-flagged vessels with U.S. crews, America would always have a robust fleet of boats and sailors on hand in the event German submarines attacked the U.S.

The law has since found backers in the American maritime industry, which says it supports American jobs. Recent presidents from both parties, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have touted it as crucial to national security because it reduces America’s dependency on foreign-owned vessels.

Except that it’s now seemingly getting in the way of expediting the shipments of supplies to a stricken piece of this country.

Donald J. Trump is resisting the pleas to lift the law, saying that shipping interests are still strongly in support of it.

Good grief, man! The president has executive authority to act. Lift it, if only temporarily. We’ve got some Americans in serious trouble.

They need help from anyone who can provide it, regardless of their citizenship. Now!

Trump remains in Russia-meddling denial

Donald J. Trump got the question straight up and directly: Does he believe the Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election?

How did the president respond to the question from NBC News’s Hallie Jackson today on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany? Sure, Russia meddled, but so did other nations, according to Trump. He couldn’t say which nations. They’ve all been doing it for a long time, the president said.

Then he sailed off into what’s becoming the classic Trump tactic: diversion, deflection and denial. He then blamed President Barack Obama’s administration for failing to do anything about Russia when it knew in July of 2016 about reports of meddling. He mentioned that the election didn’t occur until November and then asked, rhetorically of course, “Why didn’t the Obama administration do anything about it?”

Good grief, Mr. President. That’s not the question. The reporter asked about what he believes occurred and whether he stands with the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia acted alone in seeking to corrupt the U.S. electoral process.

Oh, I fear this bodes poorly for the president’s meeting Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and whether Trump is going to confront Putin directly on what seemingly the rest of the world apparently knows: that Russia got its hands quite dirty while interfering in the election of the president of the United States.

Is the ‘Russia thing’ a scandal? Not just yet

Some of my lefty friends — OK, maybe more than some of them — are going to dislike this blog post.

Too bad.

I’m struggling with a word I keep seeing in print and hearing on TV and radio. It’s the word “scandal” being used to describe what I like to call “the Russia thing.”

My sense is that “Russia” hasn’t yet risen to the level of scandal. It fits a list of potentially pejorative descriptions: controversy, tempest, tumult. Scandal? I’m not yet ready to go there.

The “Russia thing” is what Donald J. Trump called it when he told NBC News anchor Lester Holt about his reasons for firing former FBI director James Comey. It was “the Russia thing” that caused the president to fire Comey.

We have a special counsel assembling a legal team to investigate whether the Trump 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russian hackers to disrupt and influence the election outcome. At least one former aide, Michael Flynn, has been linked tightly to the Russian government.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking, too, at the Russia matter. Not so with the House Intelligence Committee, whose new chairman — Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. — said his panel is keeping its hands off this investigation.

Yes, I’ve seen a whole lot of smoke. There’s even a boatload of circumstantial evidence that appears to be piling up.

Do we have a scandal on our hands? Is the president now been tied up in a “public disgrace,” as the dictionary defines the term “scandal”? Well, I can think of a lot of ways that Trump has disgraced his office; they generally involve his use of Twitter to blast out those idiotic and moronic statements.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, though, is likely going to be the determining factor in whether all this “Russia thing” stuff drags the president and his administration straight into scandal territory.

I’ve sought to avoid using the “s-word” on this blog. I’ll continue to do so — until we all hear from the myriad investigative teams seeking to determine what in the hell happened during the 2016 election.

Why give Alex Jones a platform?

People such as Alex Jones give me heartburn.

I happen to be a First Amendment purist. I believe in the amendment’s guarantee of free speech and I do not want it watered down.

Then along comes people like Jones, the radio talk show blowhard who’s been thrust into the news yet again. Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly has booked him on her NBC News show and snippets of her interview with Jones have enraged some survivors of one of the nation’s worst tragedies.

Jones has spoken infamously about how the 9/11 attacks against the United States were an “inside job” and then — and this goes way beyond anything resembling human decency — he has alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut was staged; he says the children who were slain were “actors.”

Kelly is giving this guy’s moronic views a platform.

Should he be allowed to spout that trash? Should he be given air time on a major broadcast network? That pesky First Amendment says “yes.” Tenets of good judgment and basic humanity suggest that this guy shouldn’t be given a platform to spout the filth that pours out of his pie hole.

Kelly deserves the criticism she is getting from at least one of the Sandy Hook parents who lost a child in that hideous act of cruelty.

And that damn heartburn continues to churn in my gut.

45th POTUS keeps trying to rewrite the rules

Listen up, Donald John “Smart Person” Trump.

You cannot tell major media organizations which news to cover and which to ignore. The U.S. Constitution — the document with which you are patently unfamiliar — simply doesn’t allow presidents of the United States to coerce a “free press.”

It’s in the First Amendment. The founders had crafted the Constitution with those articles, then they started to amend the government framework. So they started with 10 civil liberties they wanted to protect.

That First Amendment? It protects freedom to worship, freedom to assemble peaceably to protest the government and — yep! — the freedom of the press to report the news.

NBC News believes the Russian hacking story is important enough to cover fully and completely.

It doesn’t please you, Mr. President? That’s tough dookey, sir. It doesn’t matter whether you’re unhappy with the way the television network does its job.

And quit the tweeting, too

You keep blazing away on your Twitter feed with that juvenile nonsense. You act more like a teenager than the leader of the free world. And do you actually believe that NBC News or any media outlet is going to do what you want just because you’re the president and you can say whatever the hell you feel like saying?

That’s not how it works in this country.

Just so you know, I just watched a great PBS special on KLRU-TV, based out of Austin, Texas. It told us plenty about the presidency, the White House and the families who have occupied “the people’s house.”

One of your predecessors, President Lyndon Johnson, was ravaged by protesters during the Vietnam War. What do you suppose the president said at the time. He said he wanted to ensure that presidents always work to preserve the right to dissent, to disagree with decisions made in the Oval Office. “I know all about dissent,” LBJ said.

You are occupying the Oval Office now, Mr. President. The dissent? The disagreement? The occasional anger? Get used to it.

Oh, and quit trying to bully the media.

The Constitution protects them from people like you. Honest. It’s in there. In the First Amendment. You ought to read it.

Moderators should, uh, moderate

NBC NEWS - EVENTS -- Decision 2012 -- Pictured: Lester Holt -- (Photo by: Michele Leroy/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Call me an old-school fuddy-duddy.

Lester Holt of NBC News has a big task ahead of him Monday night. He gets to moderate the joint appearance between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

I liken his role to that of an athletic event referee. The best officiating jobs are done by those you don’t notice.

Accordingly, some of the chatter leading up to the event has been whether the moderator should correct candidates’ misstatements.

I’ve thought about this for about the past four years and I’ve concluded that Holt should not interfere. He should not interject himself into the storyline. He shouldn’t become part of the story … as CNN’s Candy Crowley did in 2012 when she corrected a statement that Mitt Romney made about whether President Obama had declared the fire fight at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya to be a terrorist attack.

That wasn’t Crowley’s job.

Her job then — and Holt’s will be Monday — was to ask questions of the candidates and to let them correct each other if and when the need arose.

If the moderators were to correct the candidates, then how do they determine which misstatements they let pass and which ones do they correct?

I prefer that they not make the call.

Of course, given the nature of social media these days, a non-call also would become “news.” Commentators no doubt would make them have to answer for their decision to let the candidates’ statements go unchallenged.

Sigh …

Still, my old-school tendency leads me to believe the moderator’s job isn’t to become a fact-checker. It is to be a referee. The best refs are those we don’t notice during a competitive event.

Clinton v. Trump: made for television


Americans who care about the election that will choose the next president of the United States are going to tune in to what is shaping up as the perfect made-for-television event.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump — Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, respectively — are going to face off in the first of three televised joint appearances.

I don’t know about you, but I’m intending to watch every second of it.

This might be the ballgame. Or, it might throw the whole contest into yet another cocked hat.

You know my bias already. I detest Trump. I am not enamored of Clinton. It’s a grim choice we all face. One of them, though, is going to win this election on Nov. 8.

To get there they have to prove how nimble they are. They have to show us who is better equipped to deal with the myriad challenges facing the country. This isn’t a time for cheap, easy, throwaway solutions. We need some detail here, folks.

Who between them will provide the detail and depth we ought to be seeking? Well, my money will be on Clinton.

They’ll have 90 minutes to make the case.

I remain hesitant to call this a “debate.” I’m not privy to the format established. The moderator, NBC News anchor Lester Holt, will pose the questions. The candidates will answer him. They won’t debate each other in the classic sense.

Hey, let’s not quibble. These events aren’t set up to be pristine debates. They are created to allow us — the voter — to size up both candidates.

Given the enormously unconventional nature of this election cycle, it might be unwise to suggest that a major gaffe by Trump — who’s committed untold numbers of them already — will doom his campaign. This clown has demonstrated that he’s so far been virtually bullet-proof. He fires off a stream-of-consciousness riff about an opponent that causes millions of Americans to groan in disbelief; but his supporters cheer him on, demanding more of the same.

Yes, there’ll be an audience. They’ll cheer for their candidate. Maybe they’ll boo the other one. It’s TV, folks.

It’ll be a big night in what is shaping up as one of the more bizarre elections any of us can remember.

I keep hearing about the expected huge viewership expected for this event. How does it square with the lack of enthusiasm for these major-party nominees and the incredible negative ratings that burden them both?

Whatever. I’ll be watching.

And you?

Putin gets high praise — again! — from Trump


I’m  trying to imagine the outcry — indeed, the outrage! — we would hear if, say, a young U.S. senator from Illinois running for president in 2008 had denigrated the quality of leadership provided by an American president while praising a ham-handed dictator’s leadership style.

What would be the Republican reaction if Barack Obama had done that? What might the GOP establishment think of a candidate for the U.S. presidency holding up someone such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin?

The current GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump, did as much Wednesday night while taking part in that commander in chief forum sponsored by NBC News.


Trump told NBC’s Matt Lauer that Putin is a better leader than President Obama.

I am trying to fathom that context.

He talked about the “great control” Putin has over his country. Really?

He said Putin enjoys an 82 percent approval rating in Russia. Seriously?

Trump said he takes Putin’s lavish praise of the real estate mogul as “a compliment, OK?” Give me a break.

Aren’t the Russians supposed to be a major world adversary, if not an outright enemy? And this clown — Trump, I mean — thinks Putin’s leadership style is worthy of praise?

I’m trying to catch my breath.