Tag Archives: social media

No such thing as ‘off the record’

Michael Smerconish is a smart commentator and CNN TV host.

He offered a prime piece of political wisdom this morning when he said, “There’s no such thing as ‘off the record.'”

There it is. A lesson that no doubt has not been lost on the “stable genius” who sits in the Oval Office of the White House. Donald Trump clearly knew that when he described African nations and Haiti as “sh**hole countries” would be picked up and flashed around the world.

As Smerconish noted today, seemingly everyone has a smart phone equipped with a camera and a recording device.

When the president blurts out a racist comment, or when he makes declarations that are sure to offend millions of Americans — let alone billions of other world inhabitants — he is speaking only to a narrow audience: his political base, the 30-some percent of Americans who stand with him no matter what.

As Smerconish noted today, Barack Obama was caught telling a fundraising crowd that many Americans “cling to their guns” and their religious faith; four years later, Mitt Romney was overheard telling a crowd that “47 percent of Americans” who live on government programs will vote for President Obama “no matter what.”

The world is listening to these politicians.

I get that Trump’s sh**hole comments aren’t a precise parallel to the examples cited already. Still, Donald Trump called an entire continent a place full of “sh**hole” countries populated by dark-skinned people. Lawmakers heard him say it and have declared they heard it. Such a statement sounds pretty damn racist to me.

He has offended millions of Americans.

Trump doesn’t care. His base hangs with him.

More sanctions may await social media ‘celebrity’

A social media “celebrity” has discovered that his status can carry a gigantic consequence because of thoughtless behavior.

Logan Paul, a young man I’d never heard of before this past week, is now at the center of a social media scandal that threatens to swallow him whole.

He is a YouTube “star” who had the incredibly bad taste to take a picture of a man who had hanged himself in a park in Japan.

Paul has now been scorned around the world for what he did. He took the video, then joked about it. He carried on as he does with the medium, which I understand has earned him a lot of money. His money-earning days might be over. Am I concerned for him? Not in the least.

I haven’t seen the picture he posted on YouTube; it was brought down immediately.

Paul has apologized to his “fans” for his disgusting behavior. He has declared his apology as well to the family of the man he recorded.

I don’t want to comment too much about what he did. Other than to say he has committed a disgusting and disgraceful act.

What is worth a brief comment on this blog, though, is the rise of this “instant celebrity” status that social media often produce. Twitter accounts feature people who post idiotic messages that get a “following” of sort out there in that particular social media sphere. The same can be said of YouTube.

People can become celebrities overnight if they establish a fan base that follows these clowns’ goings-on. Logan Paul is one of those celebs who has enriched himself through the goofy comedy routines he posts on that medium.

I remember a time — pre-social media — when individuals had to demonstrate actual talent to develop the level of following we are seeing these days. I am aware that TV game-show contestants often filled our screens with nutty behavior and utterances.

The ranks of social media celebrities has exploded in recent years. They’re everywhere. They are ubiquitous — and they make lots of money.

What this clown Logan Paul did shows what happens when we laugh out loud at the actions of individuals who don’t have the maturity or the good judgment to handle the status they have attained.

Perry, not Trump, set the tone for stiffing the media

Donald Trump likes to crow about how he uses Twitter to “talk directly” to Americans, avoiding the “filter” of the “fake news” mainstream media.

The president, it appears to me, would have us believe he has been a trendsetter in this regard.

I would beg to differ.

Trump is a bit late to this game of sticking it in the ear of the media. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, blazed that trail in 2010 while running for what turned out to be his final re-election campaign as Texas governor.

I wrote about it then:

Perry skips the ed board

Perry, too, wanted to forgo talking to newspaper editorial boards while campaigning for governor. He stiffed us in the business. He didn’t even come to Amarillo, where I worked at the time as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. He might have earned our newspaper’s editorial endorsement against the man he faced in that year’s general election, former Houston Mayor Bill White; the paper had a policy at the time of declining to make endorsements in contested partisan primaries.

The governor decided to stay away during the primary campaign in which he faced former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and then later in the general election.

I don’t recall him using Twitter at the time; indeed, I cannot even remember that particular social medium becoming the tool it has become in the past couple of years.

I wrote at the time of Perry’s decision to stiff the media that we didn’t “take it personally.” I might have to walk that back just a bit. In truth, we did take it as a mild insult. “Who does this guy, Perry, think he is?” we thought at the time.

It turned out to be a stroke of genius. The media had become the whipping child for conservative politicians. Perry became the spokesman for the Stiff the Media crowd.

Newspapers all across the state ended up endorsing Mayor White for governor. White talked to the Globe-News and made a strong case for his candidacy. So, the Globe-News — a longtime ally of Republican politicians — endorsed a Democrat for governor; I say “longtime ally” of GOP pols understanding that in 1994, the newspaper endorsed the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards in her bid for re-election, which she lost to George W. Bush.

So … sit down, Donald Trump and stop implying that you’re hacking your way through some sort of political wilderness with your continual Twitter tirades. You aren’t the first to stick it to the media.

Donald Trump: master of the obvious

I probably shouldn’t concern myself with yet another presidential Twitter tirade from Donald John Trump Sr.

But … here goes anyway.

The president of the United States just had to tell North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong Un that the United States has a bigger bomb than the North Koreans have and that his “button works.”

Why in the world does the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine have to goad, chide, needle someone who just might do something terribly and tragically foolish? That would be to start a nuclear exchange with the U.S. of A.

The world has known for a long time that Kim was battling to become the world’s nuttiest head of state. I am having trouble grasping that the Donald Trump is now rivaling the North Korean nut job for that dubious distinction.

However, he is doing the seemingly impossible.

Social media, of course, went crazy overnight regarding the president’s goofy tweet. Imagine my non-surprise at that!

I suppose it’s fair to remind everyone who reads this blog that Donald Trump said he’d likely set his Twitter habit aside once he became president.

To think that many of us actually had hope he would deliver on that pledge. Silly us.

So “unpresidented.”

GOP lawmaker is sorry … for this?

Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner apparently had a soul mate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Weiner, a Democrat, is now serving prison time for “sexting” underage girls. But lo and behold! Check out this item regarding Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Barton from right here in Texas.

According to The Hill:

Barton’s acknowledgement that he appears in the photo emphasizes that the women he was involved with in the past, one of whom may have shared the photo, were above the age of consent and willing participants.

“Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down,” he continued.

The photo in question is of Barton’s, um, penis. It has been distributed on the Internet.

Oh, Joe, Joe, Joe …

You know about Weiner. He used the nickname “Carlos Danger” while sharing pictures of himself via Twitter during an earlier scandal.

The most hilarious part of Barton’s mea culpa, though, is this: He references having affairs with “other mature adult women.”

Do you get why I think it’s funny? He said in a statement that he fooled around with “adult” women and not — as it has been alleged about GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama — with underage girls, children.

Man, oh man. This social media stuff seems to get ’em all.

Trump shrinks a big office

I wish I had thought of this, but since I didn’t I’ll deliver appropriate credit to the source of this piece of wisdom.

It comes from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who fired off this tweet today about Donald J. Trump Sr.:

“The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?”

What a great question, even though it’s more or less a rhetorical inquiry. Here’s another twist on it: How can Trump shrink the high office he won a year ago in one of those most stunning political upsets in U.S. history? I think it shrunk the very moment he took the oath of office.

POTUS shrinks his office

The object of Schiff’s retort concerns the Twitter tussle that Trump entered with LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA student/athletes who were charged with shoplifting at a high-end store in the People’s Republic of China.

Trump talked to Chinese leaders while visiting that country and reportedly persuaded them to release the young men instead of convicting them and sentencing them to potentially years-long prison sentences. LaVar Ball then tweeted that Trump didn’t do anything to obtain the release of his son and the other athletes.

Then the president decided to fire back at Ball — a man known for his big mouth and outsized public presence in the lives of his athletically gifted sons.

He said he “should have left them in jail” because LaVar Ball didn’t lavish enough praise on the president for his efforts.

That is one way a small man can occupy such a big office. Indeed, Trump is managing to shrink the office itself with his persistently petulant behavior.

Trump has turned this remarkable “skill” into an art form.

One troll disappears, more to emerge

I have become “acquainted” with trolls.

They aren’t my favorite audience members. They seem to lurk out there, waiting for my posts to appear. Then they pounce with negative responses.

I don’t mind the negativity if it is based on principled arguments to substantiate their point. I do mind the pointed barbs that contribute nothing to current discourse.

I’ve been reluctant to comment on them because, well, because I don’t want to encourage other trolls.

Recently, I took the rare step of blocking one of them. He and I aren’t connected on any social medium. He just kept chirping about issues on which I would comment. Then he got into name-calling, challenging my intelligence while remarking about how my posts were a “waste” of his time, which I presume is of great value to him.

So I cut him off.

Recently, another frequent critic of High Plains Blogger apparently has decided to block me. Imagine that, will ya? This individual is a fervent supporter of Donald John Trump Sr. She took supreme offense at my constant carping against the president.

This individual — and I reluctantly use the term “troll” here — is an actual acquaintance of mine. But I guess I have to describe this person as a classic “troll” as it has been used to define certain Internet users.

I found this description via Wikipedia: In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement.

Yep. That describes the individual who blocked me. This person would engage in some heated back-and-forth with other readers of this blog, arguing just for the sake of arguing.

I won’t lose a wink of sleep over getting blocked by this person, because I am acutely aware that there will be others who’ll step up to take the place of any such “troll” who drops off this blog’s grid.

Oh, just so you know, I still love writing this blog.

Twitter expands its format? Oh, boy … maybe

This just in: Twitter has expanded its social media format, doubling the number of characters one can use to communicate this and/or that musing.

I have no idea what it means for me. I use the medium in a fairly limited fashion. I use it to distribute posts on High Plains Blogger. I retweet others’ messages that I find interesting, provocative or entertaining. I also send out my own commentary on topics of the moment.

Since I signed up on Twitter about six years ago, I found the 140-character limit to be restrictive. I got used to it over time.

Now we get 280 characters to fire off whatever message we choose to send out.

It appears that the tweeter in chief — the guy who also serves as president of the United States — might really bask in this format. Knock yourself out, Mr. President.

I learned during my years in print journalism to “write tight.” Don’t take too much newsprint space to tell whatever story you are asked to tell. I’ve heard many editors scream at reporters for writing too much to fill an eight- or 10-inch hole on a given page.

To that end, Twitter has turned “tight writing” into an art form. I thought I was pretty good at expressing myself in just 140 characters. Now we’re going to double that amount.

I don’t know how to act.

How does Trump justify his media hatred?

The hate/hate relationship Donald John Trump has with the media has baffled me from the beginning of his presidency.

You see, the man ought to be thanking the media for the role they played in advancing his presidential candidacy. It hasn’t worked out that way. He has become the media’s Enemy No. 1. And how? Because he fired the first shot in the war.

The media’s making of a presidential candidacy became evident from the candidate’s first day on the campaign trail. He rode down that elevator at Trump Tower in June 2015 and a “love affair” was born.

Trump made outlandish statements from Day One. The media didn’t challenge him. The media seemed reluctant to call the candidate what he was: a liar.

When he announced his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country, he said he witnessed “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the Twin Towers; he didn’t witness any such thing. He said he lost “many friends” in the Twin Towers; he didn’t lose any friends.

Did the media challenge him in real time for the lies he told? No. They generally let them ride.

Prior to his running for the first public office he ever sought — the presidency — Trump loved the media exposure as long as it promoted his business ventures. He loved the media as well. He chummed around with media moguls.

Eventually, and it took a while, the media began to wise up to how the candidate was playing them. They started, um, doing their job.

It’s been said that the media should “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That’s what they do. It’s part of their charge as professionals. Trump is among the more, uh, comfortable people in public life; he kept telling us how fabulously wealthy he is. And smart, too.

It’s gone downhill ever since. His election as president has turned the one-time media lover into a media hater. He labels the media as the “enemy of the American people.” His standard retort to anything he deems negative is to call it “fake news.” Trump commits the unconscionable act of singling out individual reporters and the news organizations they represent. He lies continually and the media keep calling him out.

It truly is an amazing turn of events. The president of the United States has declared war on the very institution he needs to inform the public of whatever message he wants to deliver.

Every single one of the president’s predecessors has experienced difficulty with the media during their time in the office Trump now occupies. They all understood something that Trump ignores: The media kept them accountable for their actions.

The media are doing now what they should have been doing from the very beginning of this guy’s campaign for the presidency.

Trump Twitter account goes down … but not for good

Donald J. Trump was off the Twitter trail for 11 whole minutes.

Damn, anyway! Why couldn’t he have been taken off for keeps? Alas, it was not to be.

But the unplugging of Trump’s Twitter feed has raised serious questions that need some equally serious answers.

How did an individual get hold of Trump’s account to disable it if only for a few minutes?

What are the ramifications, particularly when the president tweets out actually federal government policy using that particular social medium?

Does this call into question the wisdom of the Leader of the Free World using this medium in such cavalier fashion?

Oh, the dangers of conducting policy by tweet.

The debate has turned ideological. Conservatives blame the takedown on a rogue Twitter employee who did it on his or her last day on the job. They also complain that Twitter is more tolerant of liberals than conservatives and believe the president’s Twitter account was targeted only because he espouses conservative policies.

I prefer to focus on the very notion of the president of the United States using this medium in the manner that he does. He ought simply to just back off and not get so intimately involved with Twitter. He says he uses it to speak directly to Americans. Hogwash!

If that is his goal, then he ought to issue daily policy statements through the White House communications office.

POTUS exposes himself to trouble

Donald Trump’s use of Twitter, to my mind, only illustrates how vulnerable he is to the kind of chicanery that someone conducted. It also illustrates the extreme danger of these social media messages getting into the wrong hands.