Tag Archives: NY Times

‘The Post’ reminds one of how it used to be

I saw “The Post.” This won’t be a review of the film, except that I simply want to say it was gripping to the maximum degree.

It reminds me of how it used to be in daily print journalism.

I had some trepidation about seeing it. Some of my fellow travelers in the journalism craft had expressed dismay at seeing the film and lamenting what has become of a proud profession. I had a glint of fear that I might share their gloom. I mean, look at what has happened to newspapers all across the nation. They’re shrinking and withering before our eyes as publishers grapple against forces that are overwhelming them: the Internet, the plethora of “news” sources, cable television.

That fear never hit me. Instead, I reveled in the story it told and rejoiced in the victory that The Washington Post scored in the effort to censor it, preventing the government from invoking a prior restraint on a free and unfettered press.

“The Post” tells the story of the paper’s effort to publish the Pentagon Papers, a report written during the Vietnam War. The Papers told of the deception perpetrated on the public by several presidential administrations: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Officials all told of supposed “progress” in the fight against the communists in Vietnam. They lied to the nation. The Pentagon Papers revealed the lie.

The New York Times obtained the papers from Daniel Ellsberg. It got the story out first, then the Nixon administration persuaded a judge to prohibit further publication of the Papers, citing national security concerns.

Post editor Ben Bradlee didn’t see it that way. He eventually guaranteed publisher Katherine Graham that no American fighting man would be harmed if the Post published the rest of the damning document.

The matter ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which then ruled 6-3 against the Nixon administration — and in favor of the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.

The film tells that story in gripping fashion.

In a larger sense, though, the film reminds us of the value of press freedom and the good that the freedom brings to a public that needs to know the truth about the government that works for us.

It also reminds us of journalism’s value to a nation that promotes liberty. Indeed, given the current climate and the fomenting of hatred against the press that’s coming from the current presidential administration, “The Post” comes across as profoundly topical and relevant.

I cheered during the film when Graham gave the go-ahead to publish the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post. The sight of presses turning over brought a lump to my throat.

I worked proudly in that craft for nearly 37 years. I never had the opportunity to cover a story of the magnitude of the Pentagon Papers. I did, though, have my share of thrills about getting a story into print and feeling the impact of that story on the community our newspaper served. I would derive the same satisfaction as I gravitated to opinion journalism and wrote editorials or signed columns that challenged the sources of power in our community.

“The Post,” therefore, didn’t sadden me.

It made me proud to have taken the career path I chose.

Good question: Who cares about Omarosa?

Who on earth actually cares whether Omarosa quit or was fired it’s the dumbest story eve

This tweet came from CNBC correspondent and New York Times contributor John Harwood.

Oh, I have to agree wholeheartedly with this fellow. Yet the media are all agog over the departure of Omarosa Manigault Newman from Donald John Trump Sr.’s White House staff.

The White House announced that she quit. Then sources reported she and chief of staff John Kelly had an argument; Kelly canned her. Then she was shown the door by unnamed White House personnel.

So, why the big deal, indeed over this individual’s departure? As near as I can tell, she didn’t even have a real job in the White House. Her title was a convoluted string of words: director of the Office of Public Liaison for the White House.

Someone needs to explain to me: What in the world did she do?

She drew a $180,000 annual salary for doing … what?

Omarosa was a three-time “Apprentice” contestant who was fired three times by the show’s host, Donald John Trump Sr.

OK. She’s now off the public payroll. May she now disappear, never to be heard from again. I know. It won’t happen that way. I am just hoping she does just go … away.

Yep, Donald J. Trump said it

That didn’t take long.

Just days after reports surfaced that Donald J. Trump sought to slither his way out of remarks he made a dozen years ago to a TV entertainment reporter, we find out that the man who would be president made the hideous remarks.

Billy Bush, the disgraced “Access Hollywood” host to whom Trump bragged about grabbing women by their private parts, has written a New York Times essay that shoots down the assertions that Trump has made in private.

Trump reportedly told associates in the White House that the audio recording heard around the world in the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign were made up. The voice wasn’t his, he said.

It makes me wonder: Who in the world does the president think he’s kidding with that ridiculous assertion?

Bush writes in the Times: Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

It damn sure was real, man.

Read the rest of the Times essay here.

The revelation that Trump made those remarks in 2005 and Bush’s reaction to it in the moment cost the host his gig as a co-host of “Today.” He was let go by NBC and was thoroughly disgraced.

So it appeared that Trump sought to persuade White House aides that Bush was canned for no reason.

Ridiculous … in the extreme.

Mr. President, you are not president of a nation inhabited by 300 million-plus rubes.

What? Flynn is turning on Trump? Who knew?

While many of us were eating turkey and getting prepped for today’s shopping mayhem, a bit of news came to light back east.

It seems that former national security adviser Michael Flynn might be turning “state’s witness” in the ongoing probe into whether Donald John Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian hackers who sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Flynn held his national security job for 24 whole days at the start of the Trump administration. Then he got canned because he didn’t tell the truth about what he said to whom about meeting with Russian government officials during the campaign.

The New York Times is reporting that Flynn — a retired U.S. Army three-star general — is no longer talking with the Trump legal team and well might be starting to cooperate with the legal eagles working with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Read the Times story here.

The Flynn story sickens me at a couple of levels. First of all, I didn’t like that he had been appointed national security adviser in the first place. He assumed a highly political role during the Trump campaign. In my mind, he sullied and soiled a brilliant military career by standing in front the GOP convention two summers ago leading the “Lock her up!” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The man clearly knows plenty about what the Trump campaign did in regard to the Russian hackers. Mueller is pursuing the truth methodically and meticulously. Will the former national security boss provide him with the silver bullet that pierces the armor surrounding the president and his inner circle?

I don’t expect this investigation to accelerate in speed. Mueller’s reputation as a patient prosecutor likely will preclude any rush to judgment.

However, it’s hard — for me — to disbelieve the notion that if Gen. Flynn is working with Mueller’s team that a major development in this probe is likely to explode.

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

Top Senate Republican drops yet another bomb on Trump

Thank goodness for the media, which are doing their job in ferreting out information pertinent to the future of our national government.

The latest media bomb comes in the form of a New York Times story that reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the Senate’s top Republican — doubts whether Donald John Trump can salvage his presidency.

The president and McConnell haven’t spoken in weeks. They have exchanged angry phone calls. The Times reports that the relationship has gotten even more complicated by the presence of Elaine Chao in Trump’s Cabinet as transportation secretary; Chao is McConnell’s wife.

What we have here is a serious breach reportedly developing between a top-rank legislator and a president with zero experience or understanding of how government works.

They appear to have let their differences fester into a serious boil.

The Senate Republican caucus couldn’t approve a health care overhaul. Trump blamed the Senate, even though he has shown hardly any interest in the nuts and bolts of what he kept saying should be approved.

Right here, dear reader, is yet another example of how the president lacks any kind of political capital. He has no capital to spend to do anything. Why? He has no relationship with anyone on Capitol Hill prior to his taking office as president.

Like it or not, the political world is built on relationships, be they friendly or contentious. Trump had none of that. He assumed public office after working his entire professional life in search of personal aggrandizement and enrichment.

Trump calls the Times part of the “fake media.” He keeps suggesting the newspaper is “failing.” Something tells me the newspaper has this one right.

Trump seeks to keep defying laws of political gravity

Color me baffled. Or mortified. Or, oh, maybe even bamboozled.

Donald John Trump’s latest outrage — where he equated Nazis and Klansmen with those who oppose them — would seem to the final “last straw” that sends his cadre of supporters scurrying elsewhere.

Hah! Hardly, according to a fascinating New York Times article profiling the Republican Party “base” that continues to hang with the president of the United States.

Here is the article.

Trump’s response to the Charlottesville mayhem has fallen along largely partisan lines, according to the Times. Most Republicans support the GOP president; only 10 percent of Democrats do.

Yes, there are signs that Trump’s GOP base is showing stress fractures, that it might be beginning to slip away. There remains, though, this hard-core base of supporters who stand with him. Why? He continues to stick it in the establishment’s eye. He talks plainly and with politically correct pretense, they say.

According to the Times: “It’s an indication of what now seems an almost immutable law of the Trump presidency. There are signs that Mr. Trump’s support among Republican leaders and some Republican voters is weakening. But in an increasingly tribal America, with people on the left and the right getting information from different sources and seeing the same facts in different ways, it reflects the way Mr. Trump has become in many ways both symbol and chief agitator of a divided nation.”

I’ll concede yet again that I’m a member of the “tribe” that has opposed Trump from the very beginning. He presents not a single redeeming quality to public life. He’s immoral and amoral at the same time. He has no ideology. His life is crammed full of examples of how his No. 1 objective has been geared toward personal enrichment.

Thus, when he denigrated Sen. John McCain’s military service, disparaged a Gold Star family, mocked a reporter’s physical disability and boasted about grabbing women by their private parts, this individual only reinforced every single negative impression I had of him. Accordingly, it has amazed me in the extreme that his political base has held together as firmly as it has … to date.

Again, from the Times: “Larry Laughlin, a retired businessman from a Minneapolis suburb, compares Mr. Trump to a high school senior who could ‘walk up to the table with the jocks and the cheerleaders and put them in their place.’ That is something that the ‘nerds and the losers, whose dads are unemployed and moms are working in the cafeteria,’ could never do. Mr. Trump may be rich, he said, but actually belonged at the nerd table.

“’The guys who wouldn’t like me wouldn’t like Trump,’ he said. ‘The guys who were condescending to him were condescending to me.'”

The president is counting on those folks to see him through this latest “last straw.” I’ll concede this point: When Trump said during the campaign that he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and retain his political core of support, he proved to be more correct than most of us ever imagined.

Before we start throwing dirt on Trump …

I am about to depress some readers of this blog; other readers might take heart in what I am about to say.

Before we start writing Donald John Trump Sr.’s political obituary, I feel compelled to remind us all — even those of us who oppose this man’s presidency — that this guy is the consummate political survivor.

How many “last straws” has this clown managed to pick up and toss aside? Sen. John McCain is a “war hero only because he was captured”; the mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical handicap; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; the “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump boasting of grabbing women by their … whatever; the constant lying.

He’s now in trouble — supposedly — because of remarks he has made about white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He’s been applauded by ex-KKK grand lizard David Duke. His statements about the Charlottesville riot have been appalling in the extreme. Republicans are turning their back on the president.

Does any of this produce a death knell for this man’s presidency?

Any one or all of the aforementioned hideous examples should have derailed his ride to the White House. They didn’t. His base hung with him. He got elected.

Trump has made an absolute mess of his high office. And oh yes, he has that “Russia thing” under investigation by a dogged, meticulous special prosecutor.

Do not, though, think he’s a goner. At least not just yet.

There. Now I just depressed myself. Damn!

These six months have dragged on and on … and on

I have to agree with Frank Bruni, the esteemed New York Times columnist.

Bruni posits that the first six months of Donald J. Trump’s time as president have seemed like the longest six months of his life.

Mine, too.

Here is Bruni’s Times column.

Bruni seems to suggest that it’s the lying that has done him in just six months into Donald Trump’s time as president. As Bruni writes: “I was just 9 when Richard Nixon resigned and a teenager during the Jimmy Carter years. I began paying close attention only with Ronald Reagan. He and every one of his successors bent the truth, to varying degrees. He and every successor had a vanity that sometimes ran contrary to the public good. But none came close to Trump in those regards.”

It won’t change. Bruni knows — as many of us do — that 71-year-old men don’t change their ways just because they assume a new job in an arena with which they have zero familiarity.

Trump appears set now, six months in, to govern precisely the way he ran for the office of president. It will be chaotic, disorganized, confusing.

And it will seemingly last many lifetimes longer than its actual length … however long it will be.

Declaring war on this overused cliche

I am declaring a state of war with a phrase that is driving me stark raving mad … I’m tellin’ ya.

“At the end of the day” has emerged as the most annoying cliché in the modern English language.

I just watched an interview on MSNBC’s “Last Word” show hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell, one of my favorite TV pundits/commentators. He didn’t use that phrase. O’Donnell apparently knows better.

Oh, no. It came from his guests: foreign policy wonk John McLaughlin and Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist who is known for his expertise on Far East issues.

I heard Kristof drop “at the end of the day” twice in the span of about 15 seconds while responding to a question from O’Donnell. It’s particularly disappointing to hear it come from Kristof who, as a journalist, I am quite certain would never write that cliché in one of his NY Times columns.

(As an aside, I want to share with you that Kristof and I are “homeys” of a sort, as we both grew up in Oregon. I came of age in the Portland suburbs; Kristof grew up in the Willamette Valley.)

Here’s my theory on “at the end of the day” and its purpose for those who keep using it. It’s a setup phrase. I’ve concluded that whoever uses the phrase to preface a conclusion, it is to lend credence — a sort of gravitas — to whatever point the individual is trying to make.

“At end of the day, I am quite certain you have to stay hydrated during the hottest periods of the summer.”

Do you get it?

I do not yet know how this war I have declared will develop. I don’t have a strategy for waging it. I guess I’ll just start by pledging never to use it in this blog — except to call attention to its annoying quality; I also will pledge never to be caught dead saying it out loud.

If only these talking heads would toss the phrase into the crapper.