Category Archives: media news

No angry tweets … sweet!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to stand with David Plouffe, one of America’s most brilliant political strategists.

He wrote this message on Twitter: Will take a while to get used to waking up on a weekend and not be bombarded with a dozens of mean, crazy and destructive tweets from the world’s most powerful person. But I like the feeling so far.

I like the feeling, too. I like not having my Twitter feed flooded with posts from an angry president of the United States. I like reading about how senior presidential administration officials are learning they are being fired, or are learning about critical policy decisions, or are having to fend off criticism from the commander in chief.

The silence is golden.

Time of My Life, Part 53: Returning to reminders

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Every time we come back to places we called home I am reminded of the joyful times I had going to work every day.

I also am reminded of why I am delighted to no longer facing the pressure that greets journalists who are reporting to work each day in these very trying times.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am way past the time I would have retired on my own terms. I just turned 71, which puts me fairly deeply into the “senior citizen” category of Americans. However, when I return to Amarillo, I confront memories that used to give me great joy.

I did visit downtown when we came back, but I avoided looking at a piece of property I usually visit I normally do when we come back to the Texas Panhandle. I usually drive by the now-vacant building where I toiled for 18 years as editorial page editor of a once-fine newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News. It isn’t fine these days. In fact, it hardly covers the community, let alone the Panhandle, or eastern New Mexico, or the Oklahoma Panhandle.

However, when we come back to Amarillo, I cannot help but remember how the state of daily print journalism functioned when I reported for work at the Globe-News in January 1995.

The Globe-News published two newspapers each day. I had responsibility for the opinion pages of both editions. We sought to write fresh editorials daily for the morning and the afternoon newspapers. Our newsroom was teeming with staffers: reporters, copy editors, photographers, a librarian, a secretary, line editors.

These days? They’re almost all gone. They have vacated the building where we once reported for work. The Globe-News building is now scarred by graffiti. It sits vacant and is getting seedier every time I look at it. I couldn’t go there on my latest visit. It hurts too much to see it decaying before our eyes.

In the old days, we had tons of fun. I made many friends among the colleagues with whom I worked. I had some difficult relationships over that span of time, to be sure. But what the hey … you cannot expect perfection everywhere.

Returning to the Panhandle reminds me of how we used to serve the community. I recall fondly those grand times. I do not ever wish to return to the grind. I am enjoying a new way to celebrate the latest time of my life.

POTUS-press relationship restored

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Those of us who have toiled, or are still toiling, in the business of providing information through media outlets to the public took serious objection to a president of the United States labeling the media as “the enemy of the people.” 

I am part of the former group. I am now retired from daily journalism. Still, I am heartened to see that the White House press briefing room might be allowed to return to its original mission: to allow the media to question the White House press spokespeople on issues of the day.

Press secretary Jen Psaki, on the first day of the Biden administration, delivered her first press briefing to the media assembled in front of her. It was wonderful to see a return to the way these events are designed to go. Reporters ask questions of her about presidential policy; she answers the questions directly.

Psaki reminded reporters that there likely will be differences between President Biden and the media that cover him.

Biden’s presidential predecessor didn’t like the way covered him. He bristled at tough questions. He would label stern questioners as peddlers of “fake news,” which was the height of irony, given his own fomenting of lies and mistruths.

Earlier presidents got hectored as well from the press that sought to get to the truth behind issues of the day. They didn’t like the treatment any more than Biden’s immediate predecessor. They realized that a free and aggressive press is essential to holding government officials accountable for their actions, their statements and their policies that affect all of us.

I am looking forward to seeing how the POTUS/media relationship develops in the Joe Biden Era. It won’t always be warm and fuzzy. I want it to be constructive even in the face of criticism that comes with the territory.

Twitter silence is, um, golden

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It might be just me, but I am finding Donald Trump’s expulsion from Twitter to be a Godsend.

He isn’t blasting out incoherent policy pronouncements, or hurling insults at Democrats and Republicans, or bullying people who cannot defend themselves against the head of state, or calling the media and others the “enemy of the people.”

Isn’t it great that he has been denied all this? Well, I believe it is.

I also believe that he hasn’t been denied a single tiny bit of his First Amendment liberty. He can still issue policy statements. He can still rant and spew on TV. Trump can still make an ass of himself and he can still lie through his teeth about how he has done a “fantastic” job in fighting the COVID pandemic.

The Twitter storm? It’s calm out there. It’s grand!

Awaiting a new blog year, too

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Much of the world is awaiting the tick of midnight and the dawn of a new year.

A good bit of our good Earth already has welcomed 2021. Not yet in the U.S. of A.

I look forward to the new year as an American patriot, a father, grandfather, husband, brother, cousin and uncle who worries about the health and well being of his extended and immediate family.

Moreover, I look ahead to 2021 as a full-time blogger who spends a lot of time commenting on issues of the day. Yes, it is clear to everyone that Donald Trump has dominated this blog. He has consumed much of my waking hours as I look for ways to provide some context to the conduct of this individual.

Even though Jan. 1 is just around the corner, Donald Trump will remain as president until the 20th of the month. Then he steps aside and President Joe Biden takes the reigns of power. I will continue to provide comment on this blog on those issues and on how the new president deals with them.

I cannot offer a pledge cast in stone on the tone and tenor of this blog, but my sincere hope — and that’s all it can be — is that I will be able to look more constructively at the actions of our new administration.

Donald Trump was a lost cause in that regard from before he took office four years ago. He is unfit for the office. Trump remains an impeached president. I consider him to be a danger to our system of government. I have said so over the years and I make no apology for anything I have written about him.

However, at noon on Jan. 20 Donald Trump becomes irrelevant. He will tweet this and that. I intend to ignore his blathering, bloviating and bluster. I also intend to focus instead on how President Biden intends to repair the damage that Trump has left for him.

I hope to awake in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to go. The old  year really sucked, man. The new year? We have nowhere to go but straight up.

Paxton: the real Bum Steer of the Year

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My favorite issue each year of Texas Monthly arrived in the mail today and I saw something on the cover that made me wince in disappointment.

TM named the Texas Democratic Party as its Bum Steer of the Year in its annual Bum Steer edition that comes out at the end of every calendar year. The magazine has hit many home runs with its Bum Steer “honor,” and it also has whiffed. I fear that the magazine’s publishing deadline created a missed opportunity.

Yes, the Democratic Party missed its “blue wave” prediction, claiming it would sweep into elective power in the Nov. 3 election. It sure missed … by a Texas mile.

Something happened, though, between the magazine’s deadline and its production that to my mind provided an even more egregious Bum Steer for the magazine to consider.

That would be Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s moronic lawsuit that sought the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election results in four states that voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. SCOTUS tossed the lawsuit in a fit of judicial wisdom many of us didn’t quite expect from a court that comprises three justices nominated by Donald Trump. Sanity prevailed.

However, Paxton’s lawsuit brought a significant level of scorn to Texas. The AG couldn’t dictate how other states conduct their electoral affairs, the court ruled. Indeed, many critics have wondered whether Paxton — a dedicated Republican — has a screw loose.

He did all that while the FBI is investigating whether he committed crimes while serving as AG, which brings many of us to wonder whether Paxton is angling for a presidential pardon for any crimes that the FBI might uncover. A pardon from Trump, I hasten to add, wouldn’t involve the state trial that awaits Paxton on allegations of securities fraud. The guy’s a serious peach, you know?

I am well aware that Paxton dodged a bit of a freight train simply by virtue of the deadline that TM faced when it was assembling its Bum Steer issue. I also know that he likely won’t get the magazine’s Bum Steer of the Year “honor” at the end of 2021. Too bad.

Still, I want to bestow my own version of a venerable award to a politician who — with his idiotic effort to subvert the democratic process — has brought shame and ridicule to our great state.

Thanks for not a damn thing, Mr. AG.

Social media reveal true friends

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It didn’t take me long to become swallowed up by the social media culture that seems so prevalent.

I am attached to many social media platforms, most of which I use primarily to circulate this blog. Facebook remains my No. 1 social media platform and I appreciate very much the attention that the outlet provides this blog of mine.

Social media, though, do have plenty of downsides. They become primary conveyers of falsehoods, conspiracy theories … those kinds of things. They also reveal to me who out there are our friends.

Here is where I want to make an admission. I have valued many friendships with individuals of varying political persuasions. Then came social media and and I admit to losing some of those friends because of our varying, um, political leanings. Dang, that just makes me want to spit … you know?

I am not proud to acknowledge that the end of those relationships means I’ve been suckered into placing far more value in them than the other party. One of them recently severed a social media relationship after being an actual friend for more than 30 years. He never told me why he was cutting me loose; he just did it. I am left to presume it was our different world views, as we had jousted in recent years about political matters.

Whatever. It’s done. I will continue to use social media to distribute this blog. I enjoy using the various media platforms. I reckon I need to view the relationships I have with others in a more critical light and avoid overvaluing them.

I’m a grownup. I know how these matters play out.

Well done, Mark Shields

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to hail the end of an era in journalism.

It occurred this evening when Mark Shields said “goodbye” to viewers of PBS’s NewsHour, where Shields served for 33 years as half of a Friday evening give-and-take on the political news of the week.

His friend, New York Times columnist David Brooks, served alongside Shields for 19 of those years. The men expressed their mutual admiration and respect for the work they did together on public TV’s premier news broadcast.

I want to share just a brief thought about Shields … and about Brooks.

They reminded me weekly that politics can be a civil and respectful exercise. Shields comes from the liberal/progressive end of the political spectrum; Brooks hails from the center/right end. They would joust on occasion, expressing differences in opinion, context and perspective on issues. However, they did so with grace, class, decorum and mutual respect.

Shields announced earlier this week he would be stepping away from his role as one-half of an indispensable team of thinkers.

I want to share the broadcast he did tonight with Brooks and with NewsHour moderator Judy Woodruff. Shields and Brooks celebrate a lifetime in American politics – YouTube

And while I’m at it, I want to share a column that Brooks penned for the New York Times. Opinion | Mark Shields and the Best of American Liberalism – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Public television is a national resource. It has been depleted just a bit today by the departure of Mark Shields from the PBS NewsHour.

Well done, Mark Shields. Thank you for the wisdom you shared.

Criticism is sexist to the core

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sexism stinks as badly as racism, ageism or any form of prejudice that poisons the human spirit.

Sexism revealed itself in a pointless essay published in the Wall Street Journal that questions why Jill Biden, wife of the president-elect, keeps referring to herself as “Dr. Jill Biden.” The author of the screed, Joseph Epstein, said she should stop doing so, calling it “fraudulent.”

Umm. No. It isn’t. Good grief, dude.

Jill Biden earned a doctorate in education long ago. She has every right to call herself “Dr. Biden,” as does anyone who chooses to use the honorific title to her.

Just as a point of personal privilege, I don’t necessarily like tossing the term around for anyone and I routinely decline to use the term to describe “academic doctors”; I reserve the title to describe in initial references to medical doctors.

That said, any suggestion that a great newspaper such as the WSJ would publish such a hideous screed smacks of sexism.

Does anyone really believe the newspaper would have allowed such a thing to see print if it referred to a man who calls himself “Dr. So and So”?

Read the screed here.

Stupidity still festers.

Yes, Virginia …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am in the mood to share something here.

It is a classic editorial written by a legendary newspaper editor. It comes from Francis Pharcellus Church, editor of the New York Sun. He wrote the editorial in 1897 in response to a little girl’s question. You’ve seen it many times already, I am sure. I just want to share it here in this season of joy. This essay has withstood the test of time and will do so forever and ever.

DEAR EDITOR:

I am 8 years old.   Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.   Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’   Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.