Tag Archives: social media

Some critics actually do hand out credit

I had a fascinating exchange of messages recently with a gentleman who is a frequent critic of this blog. He lives in Amarillo and he thinks I am too harsh and hateful toward Donald Trump . . . and he tells me so quite frequently.

I don’t have a problem with this fellow’s comments. During our brief private exchange of messages, though, I did tell him something I want to share with the rest of the readers of High Plains Blogger.

I told this fellow — who, by the way, I don’t really know — that I appreciate that he is willing on occasion to give me credit for the blog posts with which he might agree. I also mentioned to him that I have a number of critics who don’t extend that courtesy.

Why mention this? I do so to illustrate, I suppose, the ups and downs of writing this blog. Sure, I appreciate the kind words I get from those who might lean in the same political direction that I do. I also appreciate the criticism of those who tilt in the other direction. Many of their critiques are thoughtful and I do heed them.

I adopted the philosophy quite a while ago when I started this blog that I would avoid (most of the time) engaging in a back/forth dialogue with critics. The way I look at it, this blog gives me a forum to throw out my point of view and offers those who care to respond to do exactly that. I believe that once is enough, whether it’s from me or from someone who wants to challenge a point of view I have expressed.

I told my critic, too, that arguing with those with contrary views usually is unproductive. I won’t change their mind; they won’t change mine. So, there’s next to zero point in trying to persuade someone I am totally virtuous and that they’re full of sh**.

This individual and I have expressed a desire to meet one day. That might happen. My wife and I get back to Amarillo on occasion. I do hope our paths cross one day.

As for his criticism, keep it coming . . . especially if he’s willing to give me some credit even once in great while.

Redefining the term ‘cutthroat’

John and Dathel Georges are trying to redefine the term “cutthroat” as it applies to describing media purchases.

The couple that owns the New Orleans Advocate has just purchased the once-might New Orleans Times-Picayune — and has laid off the entire Times-Picayune staff! All of ’em are gone, or will be gone soon.

This is the way it has become, it seems, in the world of print media.

The Times-Picayune once was the newspaper of record for The Big Easy. It became a media powerhouse, reporting on the ravages brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Then social media, the Internet and cable news began taking its toll. The T-P reduced its publication schedule to three days a week. Its circulation plummeted. As did its ad revenue.

The Advocate continued on. It became the scrappy alternative the Newhouse family’s once-formidable media presence.

Now the Advocate — owned by Mr. and Mrs. Georges — has taken over the T-P. It will restore its seven-day-a-week publishing schedule.

The T-P staff, though, won’t be part of the story.

Oh, my, this story hurts.

Sadly, though, it is just yet another example of how media companies operate. I once worked for a company, Morris Communications, that made a ton of bad business decisions at the top of the chain of command. When the company’s initiatives failed to bear sufficient fruit, the execs at the top decided to “punish” the staff by invoking pay cuts across the board and eliminating the company match toward staffers’ retirement accounts.

I also worked for another media group, the Hearst Corporation, that around 1988 decided to settle a major newspaper war in San Antonio. Hearst owned the San Antonio Light, which was battling with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Express-News. Hearst then purchased the Express-News.

However, Hearst then extended its “thanks” and expressions of gratitude for the battle fought by its Light staff by closing the Light and laying off its employees.

What’s about to happen in New Orleans, therefore, is not a newly contrived event. It’s happened many times before in the media business. It doesn’t make it any less disgraceful or dispiriting.

Working in the media world these days is tough, man!

I am so glad, delighted and relieved, to be free of that pressure.

Reached the limit of anti-Muslim bigotry

I have just committed the rare act of disconnecting someone from my social media network.

Until just a few moments ago, we were “friends” on Facebook. I will concede that we aren’t close personal friends, although I know this person’s spouse quite well, as he served in local government for many years during my time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

What did this person do to incur my social media wrath? She posted a vile anti-Muslim meme, saying in effect that Muslims need to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Oh, yes. Feelings run high at times when we talk about those who believe in one of the world’s great religions. This one crosses the line. It goes way beyond what I consider to be anything close to reasonable.

I hereby am going to declare a state of proverbial “war” against those who post such things on my Facebook feed.

You are welcome to criticize this blog. I truly don’t object to that, although some of the personal criticism does sting a bit. Hey, I ask for it with some of my blog posts. I should be willing to take what I dish out, correct?

However, those who believe in a certain religious faith do not deserve to be treated in a hideous manner. My now former Facebook “friend” has revealed a terrible element in her emotional makeup. Therefore, I no longer will use my own social media network to spread such hate.

Her ghastly meme should have been targeted toward those who have perverted Islam. She didn’t do that.

She can consort with her fellow haters all she wants.

Trump elevates Twitter as a communications platform

I want to hand out a compliment of sorts to Donald Trump.

Yes, I continue to oppose this man’s presence in the White House as president. However, I have to give him credit where it’s due. He has taken Twitter to a new phase of ubiquitous presence.

He used the social media platform to communicate his every thought seemingly in real time. Trump did it during the 2016 presidential campaign, then he promised to be “more presidential” and less Twitter dependent once he took office.

Hah! He hasn’t delivered on that promise. He’s become more Twitter oriented, not less.

But you see, here’s the deal: Damn near every other public official, elected leader, celebrity of any note, public figure has adopted the Trump Model of 21st-century communication. They’re all using Twitter as their medium of choice.

Trump tweets out an insult; the object of the barb responds with a tweet. The Twitter-verse is brimming with insults, responses to the insults, responses to the responses. They’re coming from all over the world.

Former CIA director John Brennan, a serious man who happens to be a fervent Trump critic, recently alluded to all of the president’s tweets about the late John McCain. He did so, yep, in a tweet.

Read the story here.

It’s an international — if not universal — phenomenon. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing.

I use Twitter to distribute this blog, along with other social media platforms. I don’t have millions of followers like the president does, but I certainly understand and appreciate the value of Twitter as a communications device.

So it is with that I offer a hats-off salute to the president for elevating Twitter’s presence on the world stage.

If only Donald Trump would learn to be more circumspect and thoughtful as he uses it.

Fat chance of that ever happening.

Blog alert! Having trouble publicizing these musings

High Plains Blogger uses several social media platforms to publicize its musings, missives, essays . . . whatever.

Facebook is one of them. At the moment, your friendly blogger — me! — is experiencing difficulty with Facebook.

I have notified the gurus at Facebook trying as best I can to explain the issue. I keep getting messages that say they’re working on the problem.

I’ll continue to post items on High Plains Blogger, but will depend on Twitter as my primary publicizing platform.

Bear with me. And with Facebook.

Political differences need not destroy friendships

I sent a letter via snail mail to a friend of mine this week.

His name is Ernie Houdashell. He is a devoted Republican Party elected official. He serves as Randall County, Texas, judge. Houdashell is as devoted a partisan as anyone I know.

He and I differ fundamentally on politics. We’ve actually argued a time or two over the years, particularly since my departure from the Amarillo Globe-News in August 2012.

But here’s the deal: He and I remain friends. I have great respect for this good man. I wrote him a note just to give him an update on where my wife and I have relocated. He’ll likely have received the letter, and I hope he takes to heart the way I ended it. I told him I am “proud” that he and I have maintained our friendship.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I want to illustrate how easy it can be for people with vastly different philosophical outlooks to retain their personal affection for each other. They can be friends, just as Ernie and I are friends. I believe in my heart that my friend feels the same way I do.

We hear too much these days on social media and in other media about those who have seen their friendships shattered in this toxic and divisive political climate.

I keep reading Facebook posts from individuals who admit to losing friends because of disagreements over policy matters. Man, that kind of news really saddens me!

I worked for more than two decades in a region known for its severe rightward tilt. The Texas Panhandle arguably is the birthplace of the modern conservative Republican movement. I lived for that entire time in Randall County, where Democratic elected officials have gone dormant since 1995.

I won’t belabor the point that I have many good friends in Amarillo who happen to view the world differently than I do. I’ve said it and I’ll leave it at that.

I just wish the current bitterness that infects our atmosphere wasn’t so destructive to so many other people’s relationships.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said of his opponent that year, President Barack Obama, that the two men had little time for personal animus toward each other. “There more to life,” Romney said, “than politics.”

Indeed.

Get ready for a social media brawl like no other

I don’t make political predictions any longer.

Instead, I tend to qualify my observations by suggesting that “I won’t be surprised if . . . “ something happens.

So, here goes. I will not be surprised in the least if the next presidential campaign features a social media brawl the likes of which we’ve never seen.

I get that social media are a relatively new phenomenon in today’s political world. However, it stands to reason to conclude that the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, will unleash a social media torrent against all the foes who will be running against him. The irony of such a thing happening is ironic in the extreme.

Here’s why: First lady Melania Trump has declared her mission is to eliminate cyberbullying. I like the cause. It’s noble. It’s worth fighting.

She needs to start with her husband. Donald Trump is the “Cyber Bully in Chief.” He’s proud of his Twitter prowess, despite his mangled syntax and his overuse of capital letters. He uses Twitter as a weapon. Yes, he has “weaponized” social media to the extent that he can use Twitter to hurl insults and innuendo, to threaten and coerce his foes.

I know the first lady’s major beneficiaries are intended to be children who are victimized by bullies. Still, her husband’s (mis)use of Twitter needs attention, too.

I expect the president to use Twitter to disparage his opponents at every level possible. He will use it with cruelty. Trump will be savage. He won’t back down. Trump never will apologize. Why should he? His base will cheer him on!

That’s all he cares to know. Will it please the base?

Get ready for the bloodiest political fight we’ve ever seen.

You never can take it ‘all back’

Social media have their good points . . . I suppose.

However, I consider it to be a mostly negative influence on our national mood, not to mention the quality of our political discourse.

Whatever the medium — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google . . .¬† whatever — social media has become the wave of the present, never mind the future.

I want to look briefly at Twitter.

Entertainment and sports celebrities, and politicians fire these messages out via Twitter. Occasionally they regret them immediately. Given the nature of Twitter, though, an “immediate” retraction isn’t quick enough. Whatever it is these folks say via Twitter goes out in a serious nano-second jiffy. Boom! Gone! Just like that!

I laugh out loud when I read how those celebrities and pols take down their comments immediately. I want to yell:

Too late, sucker! It’s out there! You lose!

Do you remember when Donald Trump fired off that tweet that concluded with that non-word, “covfefe”? The White House took it back, except that it’s still the subject of comedians’ punchlines.

The late Claude Duncan was a dear friend and colleague, as well as a brilliant writer and thinker. He once told me that you “cannot unhonk the horn.” He didn’t envision social media when he offered me that bit of wisdom.

However, that statement never has been truer than it has become since the arrival of social media.

Perhaps that explains why the president of the United States — the unofficial Twitter Maven in Chief — never takes anything back. The most outrageous statements that flew into cyberspace from his Twitter account remain out there. They are uncorrected. He doesn’t pull ’em back. He says these things and, well . . . that’s it! Take it or leave it!

That doesn’t excuse the president’s bizarre use of that social medium to get his message out there. However, I suppose his reluctance to take anything back is a harsh realization that what flies out there is, um, out there for keeps.

What’s with this Sen. Klobuchar ‘toughness’?

What the hell is going on here? Media reporting keeps harping about how “tough” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a declared Democratic Party candidate for president, is on her staff.

Now there’s this bit: She supposedly berated a staff member for failing to bring eating utensils; thus, Klobuchar was “forced” to eat a salad with — get this! — a comb.

A comb? What?

This social media gossip is getting weirder by the day.

I shudder to think what we’re going to hear about all the candidates once this 2020 campaign gets really heated up.

Hold on, folks. It’s gonna get bumpy. Real bumpy!

Is Joe Biden really, truly ready for this?

The chatter is beginning to get louder.

It involves former Vice President Joe Biden and whether he intends to run for president of the United States in 2020. Media are reporting the ex-VP is a couple of weeks away from making that decision. The chatter includes a lot of speculation that he’s inclined to run — but that “family matters” might hold him back.

I would vote for the former vice president in an instant were he to win the Democratic nomination and run against Donald Trump in 2020. However, I don’t want him to seek the nomination. I want a younger, fresher candidate to face the president . . . presuming, of course, that he runs for re-election!

I want to broach this Biden “family matter” situation directly and speculate on what Biden might face in this social media age from the Twitter bully who masquerades as president of the United States.

Donald Trump is a vicious social media bully. He knows no bounds. He attacks anyone with impunity and is unafraid to attack anyone’s family. Vice President Biden’s family well might present Trump with a target that is too inviting to ignore.

Biden’s elder son, Beau, died in 2015 of brain cancer. After Beau Biden’s tragic death, Joe Biden’s younger son, Hunter, divorced his wife . . . and reportedly had been dating his brother’s widow.

This is precisely the kind of family drama that might lure the president into a hideous Twitter barrage. Thus, it becomes incumbent on the former VP to ponder whether he wants to expose his family to the torrent of viciousness that Trump is capable of unleashing.

When you take on Donald Trump, you must be willing to steel yourself against the ferocious nature of the president’s makeup. Donald Trump is capable — and, oh, so willing — to say anything about anyone who opposes him.

This is the kind of fight Joe Biden can expect to face if he decides to take this final plunge into the political free-for-all required of anyone who wants to become president of the United States.