Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

Judge Robinson leaves gigantic legacy on Panhandle bench

Donald J. Trump has nominated someone to succeed a living legend among jurists in the Texas Panhandle.

It’s been slow going for the president of the United States as he has sought to make these appointments. I won’t get into the reasons for the snail’s pace in making these appointments. But the president finally made a pick for the U.S. District judgeship here in Amarillo, Texas.

Matthew Kacsmaryk is the president’s choice to become judge of the federal bench in Amarillo. I don’t know much about him, other than I understand he’s a rigid judicial conservative. According to the Texas Observer, he has worked to erode the wall separating government from organized religion.

Read the Observer story here.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson took senior status more than a year ago. She has earned it. She’s 91 years of age. Judge Robinson served on the 7th Texas Court of Appeals and on a Potter County bench before getting the call by — get ready for this one — President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to assume a newly created federal judgeship in Amarillo.

I didn’t get to watch Robinson in action during her years on the bench. I watched her from some distance as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

I became quite riveted when she was handed a celebrity trial in 1997 when a group of cattle feeders sued TV talk show superstar Oprah Winfrey because of a remark she blurted out on TV about eating beef. The cattle feeders agreed to let Robinson try the case in Amarillo. Winfrey brought her talk-show crew here and videotaped her talk show at Amarillo Little Theater.

Winfrey beat back the lawsuit. She won. Judge Robinson ruled from the bench against the cattle feeders. Amarillo made the evening news all across the land.

I don’t know Robinson well. We are acquainted, certainly. We both served in the same Rotary Club for a number of years. But she isn’t the most media-friendly person I’ve ever known.

What I want to point out, though, is this: I long ago lost count of the number of county and state judicial candidates who sought the Globe-News editorial board’s endorsement and who said they wanted to pattern their behavior on the bench after Judge Mary Lou Robinson.

Judge Robinson became the gold standard for judges in this part of the world. For 38 years she issued federal court rulings with toughness and fairness. Her total judicial career spans more than 50 years.

Imagine that for a moment. Candidates for a public office that demands supreme confidence defer to one of their own who has set a standard they all want to emulate.

That is a tremendous legacy.

More celebrities set to run for POTUS? Oh, please

Donald John Trump’s election as president of the United States was unprecedented at many levels.

He had never held public office; he was a TV celebrity and real estate mogul who slapped his name on seemingly every high-rise being built in the past two decades; he’s been married three times and has bragged about his infidelities.

But he’s the man. Now we hear plenty of chatter out here in the peanut gallery about other first-time pols — who also happen to be celebrities — pondering whether they want to run for the presidency.

Spare me! Spare the country! Please say we aren’t about to get more of this ridiculousness.

Kanye West has said something about running in 2020.

Oprah Winfrey has been mentioned as a possibility. Oprah? She’s far more preferable than Kanye “Kim K’s Husband” West … but, really?

Oh, how about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook? This youngster isn’t even old enough to run for the office¬† — but he will be by the time 2020 rolls around. He, too, has gotten a mention by some of the TV talking heads.

I’m a bit old-fashioned in this regard. I happen to think experience with government and politics is a valuable commodity on which to run for the highest office in the land. I also like the notion of politicians having a record of public service to reveal to the public whose votes they would be seeking.

Trump didn’t bring any of that to the 2016 presidential campaign. I guess he was blessed to be running against Hillary Rodham Clinton who, it turns out, became a terrible candidate. The irony in all of this is that the “smart money” thought the tables would have been turned, that Hillary had been “blessed” with getting to run against someone so patently unqualified and unfit for the office that he ended up winning.

Who knew?

Trump is now the president and his presence on the world stage is creating a bit of buzz out in the land of other celebrities with no qualifications for the presidency; they, too might decide to become candidates.

Say it ain’t so. Someone. Please.

Puzder pulls out, thanks to ex-wife’s interview

Andrew Puzder shouldn’t have been nominated as labor secretary in the first place.

He favors automation; he opposes the minimum wage; he is no friend of the working man and woman.

None of that doomed his nomination. Oh, no! The death knell was rung when a decades-old videotape surfaced that shows Puzder’s former wife telling Oprah Winfrey that Puzder abused her. He threatened her, bullied her.

Puzder — a fast-food restaurant mogul — then pulled out.

Vetting, anyone?

I have blogged already about Donald Trump’s lack of vetting as he has looked for Cabinet officers. I thought the worry was overblown.

But here we are. A labor secretary who apparently hadn’t been vetted properly being done in by an old videotaped interview.

It appears that a lot more careful vetting of Puzder’s history could have prevented the president from suffering this embarrassing end to one of his Cabinet selections.

That presumes, of course, that Donald Trump would be embarrassed.

Recalling Sawyer hatchet job

Diane Sawyer is leaving the ABC News anchor chair. Her colleague David Muir is replacing her.

That’s fine. Sawyer did a good job as anchor since taking the job in 2009. She was thorough and fair and presented the news accordingly.

However, my strongest memory of the body of Sawyer’s work involves a very high-profile trial that occurred right here in Amarillo. The defendant in this civil case was a fairly well-known personality in her own right: Oprah Winfrey. You’ve heard of her, yes?

Well, Winfrey got sued by some cattlemen over a comment she blurted out in 1997 during her TV talk show. She was interviewing this expert on “mad cow disease.” The expert made a comment about how ill-prepared beef can spread the disease, to which Winfrey exclaimed, “No more burgers!”

The cattlemen sued. The case was tried at the federal courthouse in downtown Amarillo. U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson tossed part of the case out. The rest of it was settled in Winfrey’s favor.

Shortly after that, Winfrey appeared on ABC News and was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, who tried for all she was worth to get Winfrey to paint Amarillo as a city full of gun-slinging rednecks who were bound and determined to convict her of defamation.

Amarillo is a “tough town,” Sawyer said. Winfrey didn’t take the bait. She spoke well of the hospitality shown to her here while she was in court every day.

Winfrey taped her show at the Amarillo Little Theater at night after she spent a day in court. She sold the place out every night. She brought guests in and bantered with them about the day she had spent in a federal courtroom.

I found Sawyer’s treatment of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle offensive when I heard it. Oprah, though, was thoroughly gracious and grateful for (a) the decision that went in her favor and (b) for the treatment she got from the community that found itself in the national spotlight.

Whatever. I wish Diane Sawyer well as she goes on with the rest of her life.

I’ll wonder, though, if she’s ever watched that interview she did with Oprah and thought: You know, I kind of wish I could do that one all over.