Category Archives: media news

What? Cheney will dump GOP?

“I’m going to make sure Donald Trump, make sure he’s not the nominee … And if he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.”

Let’s ponder for a moment who made that statement.

It comes from Liz Cheney, the senior Republican on the House select 1/6 committee. She has been a Republican her entire adult life. Her dad is former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, a Republican’s Republican if ever there was one.

She has declared at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin that if Donald J. Trump is the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, she will cease belonging to the party to which she has devoted her entire public life.

In one way that stuns me, given what I know about Cheney’s GOP credentials. In another way, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Wyoming voters cast her aside in August’s GOP primary. She sought another term as Wyoming’s lone member of the U.S. House. GOP primary voters said, in effect, forget about it, Liz; we don’t want you in the party. We censured you because you aren’t loyal to Trump.

According to the Texas Tribune: Cheney maintained that she is an ardent conservative on policy issues, voting in near lockstep with Trump’s legislative agenda when he was in office. But she warned a House Republican majority would give outsized power to members who have been staunch allies of the former president and his efforts to keep the White House, including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan.

And she is all of that. Cheney also believes in the rule of law, in the oath she and Trump both took to “defend and protect” the Constitution.

Frankly — despite the fact that she represents an ideology that I dislike and my belief that Trump won’t be nominated in 2024 — I happen to be proud of Rep. Liz Cheney for standing firm on behalf of the truth.

Hey, media! Where’s the outrage?

Well now, it appears we have a fascinating discussion brewing about the way the media treat athletes caught doing illegal acts or making public demonstrations about serious policy matters.

If you’re Black, the media are going to climb all over you. If you’re white … not so much.

Consider the cases of two Black football players, Michael Vick and Colin Kaepernick. Vick was convicted of sending pit bulls to their death in dog fights. Kaepernick was vilified because he chose to take a knee during the National Anthem to protest police conduct against Black citizens. Vick and Kaepernick are Black.

You with me so far?

Now we have Brett Favre, another former pro football quarterback, who’s accused of stealing money intended to help poor Black residents of Alabama and Mississippi. Where’s the outcry? Where is the condemnation?

Oh, wait. Favre is white.

Brett Favre got caught red handed and nobody cares (

I want to make another point. None of us wants to see dogs tortured, but … they aren’t human beings. No physical harm was done to anyone when Kaepernick launched his star-spangled protest.

In the case of Favre, people are suffering because someone — allegedly it’s Favre — stole money from accounts set aside to help those individuals.

Is that how you cover the news fairly? Hardly.

Reporters mustn’t become ‘part of the story’

I am going to vent briefly about something that has annoyed me ever since I decided in the old days to study journalism in college.

It is the tendency of some reporters to become part of the story they are covering. Sigh …

I like to think of reporters the way I think of referees at sporting events. We shouldn’t talk about the officiating that’s taking place, but instead about what the athletes are doing.

But here we are. We get caught up in the reporters’ aggressive questioning of public officials. It’s made worse when the public official bristles at the reporter and then pulls the reporter straight into the issue being discussed.

Examples? Hmm. Sam Donaldson of ABC News frequently tussled with President Reagan at news conferences. Before that, we had Dan Rather of CBS News jousting with President Nixon. Then came Britt Hume of ABC News hassling President Clinton.

Some more? CNN’s Jim Acosta became a spoil sport at Donald Trump’s press events and now we have Fox News’ Peter Doocy rising to the challenge during White House press briefings conducted by Karine Jean-Pierre, press flack for the Biden administration.

I care next to nothing about which reporter is getting under a president’s skin. Nor do I give a damn about wondering whether they’re doing their job.

We ought to know when a reporter is doing his or her job simply by gauging the depth of the question and whether the subject is answering it fully.

A reporter shouldn’t ever become part of the story. Just let the story tell itself.

Recalling an astonishing first meeting

(By Michael Schumacher)

Readers of High Plains Blogger might recall a statement made on it that I am writing a memoir for members of my family.

The memoir is about two-thirds finished. It contains personal reminiscences of people I met during my career as a print journalist and recalls the more fascinating sights I saw and experiences that came my way.

I want to reveal one of the people I cite in this memoir. I won’t spill all the beans, but I do want to share one element of this individual’s character that I found most appealing.


The late Teel Bivins served as a Republican state senator from the Texas Panhandle from 1989 until 2004. I arrived at the Amarillo Globe-News in January 1995 to stand post as editorial page editor of the daily newspapers we published in Amarillo.

I knew a little bit about Bivins when I arrived, given that I had spent nearly 11 years at the Beaumont Enterprise. I had been watching the Legislature during my decade on the Gulf Coast.

My phone rang a few days after I arrived in Amarillo. It was Bivins’ office in downtown Amarillo. He wanted to meet with me. Good deal, I said. I’ll be right over.

I walked into Bivins’ office. Then he welcomed me to his desk. We shook hands, I sat down, exchanged a bit of small talk about this and that politician we both knew. He asked me about my family. I told him of my marital bliss and the pride we share in our sons who at the time were just completing their college studies.

Then it came.

Bivins at that point proceeded to tell me a tale of woe and a bit of horror at the condition of his wife. She suffered from alcohol and drug abuse, he said. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know whether he could stay married to her. Bivins said he was at the end of his tolerance with her. “I don’t think I can keep this up,” he said.

I mention this because in that moment, a politician I had known for, oh, about 30 minutes took the time to expose a part of his life that obviously caused him great pain.

I shall admit that in that moment, I didn’t realize what became clear to me a few days later. A legislative aide to Bivins informed that the reason Bivins wanted to tell that story about his wife was that he wanted to get ahead of a story I likely would hear … from someone else.

Do you get it? The man wanted to tell me his version of events before I heard someone else’s version.

It truly was an astonishing thing to reveal to a total stranger, let alone to someone — such as me — who was in a position to offer commentary on politicians’ personal lives.

I have retained a vivid memory of that first meeting with a prominent Texas politician. I do so on purpose, as it reminds me that politicians — of all people — indeed, can achieve a form of nobility.

Dumbasses rule GOP

I don’t know how to broach this subject with any sort of delicate treatment, so I’ll just say what’s in my gut and then we discuss it further.

The Republican Party of this country has been taken over by dumbasses, individuals who can barely string coherent thoughts together and who have bought into the rubbish being espoused by the Dumbass in Chief.

I am at a loss as to how this once-great party allowed itself to be kneaded, molded and re-cast into a party of gullible sycophants. They believe in The Big Lie, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the Dumbass in Chief. They nominate individuals who, if elected this fall, vow to overturn the results of the next presidential election if the results don’t elect a Republican.

The party nominated someone for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Hershel Walker, who actually said out loud, “If man came from apes, why are there still apes?”

These dumbasses buy into that theory called QAnon, the mysterious notion that promotes the idea that Democrats are trafficking children into porn films. A QAnon dumbass, Rep. Lauren Boebert, confused “wanton violence” with a kind of Asian soup, saying she didn’t know what “wonton violence” is.

At one level, perhaps I should be glad to see the GOP taken hostage by the dumbass cabal. Except that the base that nominates these losers is might energized.  The task now falls on other Americans, those who use their noggins to actually think, to ensure we keep the dumbasses out of public office.

If the dumbass cabal gets elected in, oh, about 48 days, then we’re in deeper trouble than I ever imagined.

Pandemic is not ‘over’

OK, Mr. President, I feel the need to set the record straight on something you reportedly blurted out on national TV the other evening.

You told “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley that the coronavirus pandemic “is over.” Uh, Mr. President? It’s not over! It’s still with us. Pharmaceutical companies are producing new vaccines and boosters. They’re making them available for schmucks like me to take … and I damn sure am going to receive my second booster shot in very short order.

What troubles me about your careless assertion that the pandemic is “over” is that it well might cause too many Americans to let down their guard.

I also heard what you told Pelley about how so many more millions of Americans are getting vaccinated than there were when you took office. I also heard how you said that the death toll has dropped off dramatically. That’s all true.

However, if the pandemic is “over,” why make such a big deal of having this vaccine booster available?

To be clear, I am not going to join the right-wing cabal of critics in suggesting that you’re “out of touch” or that you don’t have the intellectual heft to stay on the job as president. I am with you, Mr. President.

It’s just that your words carry tremendous weight. I mean, jeez, don’t say things that reverberate the way public pronouncements do. That reverberation is amplified when it involves statements that have killed nearly 1 million Americans and caused enormous anxiety among millions of other Americans.

Look, Mr. President, a member of my immediate family became sickened right after Christmas 2020. We could have lost her! We didn’t. However, she isn’t right just yet.

Others, too, are suffering recurrences of the disease.

Businesses are still “strongly encouraging” masks. Hospitals are offering free instant exams to patients checking in with unrelated emergencies.

Does that sound like a pandemic that has run its course?

It’s still with us, Mr. President.

Change is inexorable

The more I lament the changes occurring in the world of media and in the delivery of news and commentary, the more I realize that I likely am seeking to do the impossible.

That would be to stop the inexorable, inevitable change that is occurring right in front of us in real time.

Now that I have recognized the obvious, I ought to declare my belief that there always will be a need for people who do what I did with great joy — and modest success — for nearly 37 years.

There just will be fewer of them and they will deliver the information — and, yes, the commentary — in different forms.

I have lamented the shocking (in my view) decline in newspapers’ standing in people’s lives and in the communities where they live. Two Texas newspapers where I worked — the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise — both have gone through grievous slashings of staff and resources in this changing media climate. The absence of reporters blanketing the communities served by these newspapers has taken some adjustment for many of us.

Then I have to remind myself that someone, somewhere, in some capacity is writing text that tells communities about what is happening there. They’re delivering that news via those “digital platforms,” which newspapers still are struggling to understand sufficiently to make enough money to keep going.

That brings me to one more point: There was a time as recently as the early 1990s when newspapers were highly profitable for their owners while at the same carrying huge payroll expenses. I heard of mid-sized daily newspapers operating at a 40% profit margin. I can tell you that there are more than a few Fortune 500 company executives who would kill for that kind of bottom line. It well might be that newspapers got lazy and didn’t think enough “outside the proverbial box” to prepare for the change that arrived suddenly in the early 2000s.

As sad as I get at times at the demise of the industry where I worked for so long and which gave me so much joy, my sadness is offset by the realization that I no longer must live in the middle of that turmoil every working day of my life.

I’ll leave that to the up-and-comers who are joining the fight.

Hey, Biden says ‘I intend’ to run

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Biden made some news tonight during his interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes.”

The president kinda walked back his earlier statement in which he declared he would run for a second term in 2024. In the broadcast tonight, he said he “intends” to seek re-election but that a final decision hasn’t been made.

Hmm. Well, what does one say about that?

It tells me that Joe Biden is keeping his options as open as possible, given the topic that Pelley was discussing with the president.

His age. Biden is the oldest man ever to hold the office of POTUS. The president expressed supreme confidence in his ability to do the job. “Watch me,” he urged Pelley.

OK, I get it, Mr. President. I don’t have a personal issue with Biden walking back a bit his earlier declaration of a re-election effort. I think it’s smart for the president to say only what he intends to do.

A lot of things can happen. They do and this president, who’s been victimized by fate and tragedy in unimaginable ways, at this moment is no longer a declared candidate for president in 2024.

At least not yet.

Do endorsements matter?

(David Woo/The Dallas Morning News)

Rick Perry might have been a politician ahead of his time a dozen years ago as he sought re-election to his post as Texas governor.

Perry announced to the state’s editorial boards — and I was a member of one of them in 2010 — that he wouldn’t visit newspaper offices to seek editorial pages’ endorsement.

Why, he would just “talk directly to Texans” and not mess with newspapers’ editorial pages.

Well, you know what? Perry’s strategy worked. Virtually every newspaper in Texas endorsed the Democrat running against Perry that year, former Houston mayor Bill White. The Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked at the time, was among the papers that gave its “blessing” to White.

I will never forget the reaction we got from our readers. Many of them responded to us as if we had endorsed the Son of Satan himself.

What’s more, Perry was able to cruise to re-election, much as he had done in every year he ran for the office.

What’s the lesson here? It is that voters no longer rely on newspaper editors’ “wisdom” in helping them decide how to cast their ballots. In many cases, readers’ minds are made up. They have heard all they need to hear about candidates and their views on pressing issues of the day.

This trend saddens me. I edited opinion pages in Amarillo for nearly 18 years, for nearly 11 years in Beaumont and for a half-dozen years in Oregon, City, Ore., before my career ended in August 2012. I was proud of virtually all the endorsements we made during those years. Moreover, I took pride in the respectful reaction we received — even from readers who disagreed with what we offered.

Newspapers aren’t as “respected” these days as they used to be. That, too, saddens me greatly. Those of us who write for newspapers, be they major metro dailies or community papers, aren’t “the enemy of the people.” We seek to do our job with fairness and accuracy. When we offer commentary, we do so with the same noble motives.

Rick Perry didn’t see it that way when he stiffed editorial boards’ desire to visit with him on why he sought to return to public office.

He was ahead of his time.

Dealing with trolls

I have reached what I think is a reasonable conclusion about some readers of this blog and those who are generally critical of the media.

I will try to explain myself.

Critics of this blog base their criticism on their perception of my politics. I lean left. Critics generally lean right. I have been relentless in my criticism of Donald J. Trump. Critics seem willing to give him a pass on his hideous behavior.

My conclusion is that they only are interested in what I say about politics in general or about Trump in particular.

I have sought over several years writing on to cover a wide range of issues. Some of them go beyond pure politics. Some posts deal with real life and the joys and sorrows that go with living a long time.

I want to single out one critic who, when I write about my experiences serving our great nation in uniform, often does offer a word of thanks and gratitude … and I always appreciate his saying so.

Generally, though, he and others save their most intense fire for when I pontificate about the many failings of our immediate past POTUS.

How do I deal with it? I let ’em have their say. I’ve already delivered my view. I rarely have a need or certainly a desire to engage in an argument with someone whose mind is as made up as mine.