Category Archives: media news

Stand tall, John King

CNN anchor John King has revealed a secret he kept hidden for 13 years.

The veteran broadcaster/journalist suffers from multiple sclerosis. He made the admission on the air this week and became an instant spokesman for those of us who are concerned about the disinformation that continues to be spread about the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he wanted to let it be known publicly about his MS because his immune system is compromised. He thanked his CNN colleagues for seeking the COVID vaccines and is now pleading with Americans within earshot of his voice to do the same.

He said this morning that one does not know whether the stranger sitting on any side of you is vaccinated, or whether they have the virus that could kill them … or you! Thus, it becomes imperative to get vaccinated and to take all measures necessary to protect one’s self and others.

John King is my new hero. May he continue to spread his message far and wide.

Watch out, social media!

Social media can be full of trickery, blind spots and occasional booby traps … which is why I like to use social media platforms primarily to convey thoughts I write on High Plains Blogger.

I kind of ran into one of those booby traps today with a post I shared on a private neighborhood group on Facebook.

The post had to do with an upcoming election in Princeton, Texas, where I live. The city wants to stage an election in November that will ask voters for permission to form a home-rule charter commission to draft a charter for the city to govern itself.

I wanted to share it on a neighborhood group to which my wife and I belong. I submitted the blog post, but it got kicked out. It was rejected by Facebook. The “administrator” of the group where I sent the item said the issue is publishing items on multiple social media platforms.

Hmm. No sweat. Now I hear that Facebook might be monkeying around a bit too liberally with social media content. It is “censoring” some items, one of my “neighbors” wrote.

Whatever. We live now in an era where social media has emerged as a primary source of information for millions of Americans. I have friends and members of my family to rely on social media to give them the “news.” The problem I see with that option is that they aren’t getting “news” the way I understand the term; they are hearing opinions on the news and if you agree with the slant, you listen some more; but if you disagree with it, well, you hit the road.

This the new age in media, my friends. It isn’t pretty. It is, as the late Walter Cronkite would tell us, “the way it is.”

‘Missing white woman syndrome’?

The late Gwen Ifill once lamented the double standard the media apply to missing-person cases.

Pretty white women get lots of media attention, the esteemed journalist noted, while women “of color” get, well, passed over. The stories are good for a day, maybe two or three … then they vanish.

The media now are obsessed with whoever killed Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old woman whose body was found in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., where she had been traveling with her boyfriend.

The cops have declared the boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, a “person of interest” and are now search high and low for him in Florida, where he returned several days ago … without Petito.

Ifill’s observation about the media makes an important point. Yes, Petito deserves the coverage she is getting. Then again, so do all the missing women, and men, and children — regardless of their race or ethnicity — deserve the attention that’s being leveled at the fate of one young woman.

Charles Blow wrote this in the New York Times:

In 2004, at the Unity journalists of color convention in Washington, Gwen Ifill coined the phrase “missing white woman syndrome,” joking that “if there is a missing white woman you’re going to cover that every day.”

It is not that these white women should matter less, but rather that all missing people should matter equally. Race should not determine how newsroom leaders assign coverage, especially because those decisions often lead to disproportionate allocation of government resources, as investigators try to solve the highest-profile cases.

Opinion | Gabrielle Petito and America’s Obsession With Missing White Women – The New York Times (

It speaks quite graphically at how far we still have to travel to reach some sense of balance in the way the media handle certain stories.

Let’s give this a try

I have just joined a Facebook public policy group that purports to lean to the conservative side of the great divide.

It came to me under the name “Michael Johns.” I joined, read the ground rules and now am awaiting final “approval” by a group “administrator.”

Johns describes himself as a national TEA Party co-founder and an analyst with the Heritage Foundation; he now works as a health care executive.

This could be fun, if they allow me to join. I did get the invitation from this group, so perhaps they want me as part of their group.

You see, I look at public policy from a different point of view. I consider myself a “good government progressive,” which is to say I believe in compromise as a way to further constructive legislation. I do tilt to the left, away from this group I have just joined.

They ask contributors to be “fact based” in their posts. That does give me a bit of pause. Why? Because one side’s “facts” might not comport with the other side’s version of the same term.

So if I post something I consider to be fact based, will the gurus on the other side see it in the same spirit as I have posted it? We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I look forward to reading more conservative commentary. It likely won’t change my mind on the big, broad policy issues on which I stake my own political comments.

However, I am game … if they are, too.

You must see this TV broadcast

Forgive me for shilling for a TV show. I can’t resist the urge to do so.

“60 Minutes” premiered its new season tonight by telling a single story during the course of its hourlong broadcast.

It told the story of heroism on 9/11. The heroes were the firefighters who answered the call when the jetliners flew into the Twin Towers.

If you are able to watch it On Demand, I encourage you to do so.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed many surviving firefighters, children of those who died in the chaos, colleagues of those who perished. They all told the same story. The firefighters who died when the towers collapsed did so because they were faithful to their oath to “protect and serve” the public.

These men and women accounted for 343 deaths on 9/11, the number of New York City firefighters who died because they ran into the flaming buildings.

It was a compelling news report on arguably the most compelling event of the 21st century.

If you can, I urge you to watch it. All of it. Moreover, be prepared to swallow hard.

World is my stage

This question comes to me from those who are aware of my left-leaning politics: How can you write this stuff on your blog, given where you live? 

My answer is simple. I write this stuff because the nature of this platform — my blog — allows me to reach far beyond the earthly boundaries of where my wife and I reside, which now is Collin County, Texas.

This is one of the many reasons why I love pursuing this version of my craft. I am able to speak my mind without reservation.

There once was a time when I had to be mindful of what I said and of the audience that was reading my thoughts. I worked for publications in the Texas Panhandle and in the Golden Triangle region of Texas that contained many readers who disagreed with my world view.

It’s not that it necessarily stopped me from speaking my mind. I just had to be a bit circumspect in the language I used. There would be no way I could refer to the 45th president of the United States as the Insurrectionist in Chief in, say, Amarillo, where he enjoyed tremendous political support during the most recent presidential elections.

Now that I am no longer employed by the newspaper that adhered to a pretty rigid conservative editorial policy, I am free to speak more freely. Which I do with gusto.

One of the struggles I fought during my nearly 18 years working in Amarillo and my nearly 11 years in Beaumont was trying to persuade readers that my signed columns were my opinion only and that they rarely reflected the editorial policy of the newspaper. I would write editorials on behalf of our editorial board that said one thing; I might be inclined to express a different view on a column that ran with my mug in a logo accompanying the text.

I no longer wage that struggle these days. The blog is mine. I own it. I also own the views I express on it.

Moreover, I am not constrained by my place of residence. The blog goes all around the world. How I do know that? Because I am able to track the sources of the hits I get on my blog. Over the span of a year, it covers our good Earth.

Test of rehabilitated skill

By John Kanelis /

Time for an acknowledgment.

I have told more than one person since I began work as a freelance reporter for a weekly North Texas newspaper that I have gone back to my roots. I am covering city council meetings, school board meetings and writing occasional features for the Farmersville Times.

After spending most of my career — spanning nearly 37 years — writing and editing opinion commentary, I entered this gig knowing I could write news stories straight away, checking my bias at the proverbial door. Just stick to the who, what, when, where and why stuff … you know?

My reliance on that skill was put to a test today. I passed it with flying colors, but I was a bit concerned going in to cover the story.

It was a town hall meeting hosted in Rockwall, Texas, by U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, a Sherman Republican and a self-proclaimed “strong conservative.” I was concerned he would fly off the rails so badly that I couldn’t restrain myself, that I would have to offer some sort of “commentary” in describing what I saw.

You know what? It didn’t happen. Sure, Fallon spouted his conservative mantra about foreign policy, about the 45th POTUS and how great he is. He denigrated Democrats and specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

None of it bothered me. The only that drew an audible response from me (which no one heard) was when he reported that the “mainstream media” didn’t report something to the public. Oh yes. It most certainly did.

I wrote the story and turned it in to my boss.

That all said, I am proud to declare that the story doesn’t contain a hint of bias.

I am proud of myself. Just thought I’d brag a little.

More in common than we thought

By John Kanelis /

A most startling thing happened to me today and I want to share it briefly.

I wrote a blog in the past day or so that was highly critical of the 45th president of the United States. It drew an angry response from a reader who called me an “idiot.” My oldest friend on Earth responded to this fellow and defended my honor; I am grateful for that show of support.

Then this individual noted that we have a common friend, a guy we both knew in high school back in Portland, Ore. I didn’t recognize his name; it turns out he ended up graduating from a nearby high school and didn’t attend the same high school as my friend and me during our senior years. We exchanged messages via Facebook about our common friend. We all served in Vietnam, they in the Marine Corps, me in the Army.

We shared a thought or two about our friend and about our shared service. Then this same guy who called me an idiot expressed that we have “more in common” than we thought.

A little while later, this fellow extended a Facebook “friend” request to me. I accepted it. Now we’re hooked up on social media.

I find that so very strange in a pleasant sort of way. In this time of extreme political polarization, the opposite too often occurs; longtime friends sever their friendship over … politics.

I hope my shiny new friendship survives after he reads more of my political posts, which I share on social media platforms, such as Facebook. I remain confident it will.

Will stay at it … for the duration

By John Kanelis /

Walking through the ‘hood this morning with my wife and Toby the Puppy, I made a declaration that I want to share here.

It was simply this: I do not miss going to work every day, meaning that I enjoy this retired life. And I also intend to keep working part-time on my two reporting gigs for as long as I am able.

I need to lay down an important marker: The length of my reporting gig well might not be totally in my control. I do work for someone else in both instances. They might decide down the road that they no longer need my meager writing and reporting skills. If they bid me adieu, well, that’s the way it’ll have to be.

However, I am getting no indication that will occur. At least not today or perhaps even next week.

That all said, I have learned quite a bit about myself as I have trudged into this world of being a Retired Guy. I hated the way my working life came to an end. I have ditched the anger and have embraced fully the life into which I was thrust.

I have learned that I simply enjoy stringing sentences together. I write my blog daily (which I am doing at this very moment). I also write for a weekly newspaper, the Farmersville Times, which circulates in the community that sits just seven miles east of us in Collin County, Texas. And then there’s the blog I write for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce.

I just cannot stop writing. Nor can I stop meeting people and learning about the communities where my wife and I frequent these days. Indeed, my wife recognizes that in me and she acknowledged that desire when I declared my intention to keep writing for the duration. “It’s what you do,” she said.

So, with that I hope to keep doing it until I no longer am able.

Keep looking forward

By John Kanelis /

Your humble blogger — that would be me — feels the need to affirm a vow from an earlier post.

It is that I will not become fixated on the blathering, bellowing, bloviating and bombast coming from the mouth of the 45th president of the U.S. of A.

He is going to make a lot of noise for the rest of this year and perhaps even part of next year. He is going to repeat The Big Lie — that the 2020 election was stolen from him — in the hopes of energizing that fanatical and gullible base of dipsh**s who continue to adhere to his irrational rants.

I do not intend to comment on each rant as if he were still the POTUS. He isn’t. I don’t expect him to ascend to the nation’s highest office ever again. Hell, I don’t even expect him to be a serious candidate for the White House.

My only reason for commenting on him today is because the lunatic/imbecile/moron/con man/fraud continues to hold considerable sway among a large minority of American voters. For the life of me I don’t know why or how … but he does.

My intent is to keep looking forward.

I am acutely aware that some critics of this blog are going to suggest that I remain “fixated” on the 45th POTUS’s pronouncements. I will answer them with a plain no … I am not. 

I’ve already declared that I continue to endorse the presidency of Joe Biden. He has restored a sense of dignity and decorum to the high and exalted office he occupies. We are recovering from the pandemic. Our economy is revving up nicely. President Biden is re-establishing our nation’s role as a world leader. We are re-engaging in vital international partnerships that his predecessor stripped away because he wanted to “put America first,” whatever that meant.

This American patriot wants President Biden to succeed. I intend to keep my focus aimed toward the future.

Be advised on one point: I will not remain silent if POTUS 45 gets himself into deep legal trouble or if his machinations gin up the fanatical base to do things that mirror, say, the Jan. 6 insurrection.

My keen interest will lie in where the current U.S. president intends to lead us.