Category Archives: media news

Language gets complicated

Man, oh man, how the lexicon has evolved from the day when certain words were never spoken unless spit out as an epithet.

Take the word “queer” when referencing someone’s sexual orientation.

Once upon a long time ago — when I was a kid — one used that word to describe homosexuals. One did so with a huge dose of derision.

These days? It’s now part of what has become a term comprising letters in the alphabet, as in “LGBTQ.” The “Q” stands for “queer.”

I saw an obituary today about a playwright who died at age 96. The opening paragraph of the obit described him as “queer.”

I am having trouble understanding the evolution of our language. Black people toss the n-word around only because they are entitled to do so, given that they were called the n-word as a venomous epithet. The term “colored people” has evolved into “people of color.” OK. I get it.

This “queer” thing has me baffled. For that matter I don’t know we no longer use the term “gay” simply to refer to anyone whose sexual orientation leads him or her to be intimate with people of the same gender. Now it’s LGBTQ, which I have to think for a moment before I even say it, fearing that I’ll get the letters mixed up. Besides, don’t the terms “lesbian” and “gay” — as well as “queer” — mean the same thing?

Speaking and writing the English language is difficult enough. Hey, I’ll just have to adapt.

Blog passes milestone

Boasting is not my forte, but I do feel the tug to brag … but only just a little.

High Plains Blogger just passed a significant milestone. My most recent post was the 601st consecutive day I have been able to post a commentary.

Don’t stand and applaud, please.

Just understand that writing this blog is important to me. I wrote opinions on all manner of issues for many years during my full-time career as a newspaper journalist. My career ended more than a decade ago, but my desire to keep writing has remained intact.

Therefore, I want to share this bit of good news … at least it’s good news to me.

I am asked on occasion: How do you write so often? The best answer I can find is: It’s what I do.

There is no special talent. I can’t identify any truly great work in all the items I have posted since I began writing this blog in 2009.

I simply take great joy in posting these musings. It keeps me alert. I intend to keep High Plains Blogger active for as long as I can string sentences together.

More good news? I am still willing and able.

Reflections of good times

As I watch the media landscape buckle and change in real time before my aging eyes, I am thrown into wistful thoughts of how it used to be when I was a whole lot younger, full of piss and vinegar and wanting to make a difference in my world.

I don’t wake up a single day ever regretting the decision I made to pursue a career in print journalism.

The journey began with a conversation I had with my father at dinner shortly after I returned home from a tour in the Army. I was re-enrolling in school and Dad asked me about my major. He said I should pursue journalism because the letters I wrote home from overseas were so “descriptive” that he shared them with friends and family.

So … I marched down that road. I never looked back.

My career took me to four newspapers: two in Oregon and two in Texas. It enabled me to do things that not every human being can say they did. I met important people along the way. I sought to help bring policy changes in communities where I lived and worked. I had some modest success along the way.

These days, as politicians — particularly on the far right — declare the media to be the people’s enemy, I continue to look back with great pride at what I did, at who I angered (and the reasons for their anger) and whether I made a difference.

I made mistakes. No one’s perfect, as they say. I learned from each of them. I also learned about the communities I called home during my nearly 37 years pursuing a craft I loved with all the professional passion I could muster.

Two of the papers where I worked no longer exist; the Oregon Journal and the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier closed up in 1982 and 1988, respectively. The other two, the Beaumont Enterprise and the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas are mere ghosts of what they once were. I fear their presence in their respective communities might be ticking down rapidly.

It is not fun at all to watch this change chip away at formerly grand community institutions. It is inevitable nonetheless.

They took me on one hell of a great ride … and I will never, ever surrender the joy I had throughout that entire journey.

Once-solid newspaper on its way out

Another newspaper that once boasted of winning journalism’s top prize is heading for the crapper.

How do I know that? Because the Amarillo Globe-News has informed its subscribers they no longer will have what is left of the newspaper tossed on their yards the day it is published — in Lubbock! Ohhh, no! It’s going to be mailed to subscribers via the Postal Service. The paper is terminating its carrier service.

Stick with me for a moment as I explain why this sounds like the death knell peeling across the Texas Panhandle.

A few years ago, the Globe-News shut down its presses and farmed the job of printing the paper to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, about 120 miles south of Amarillo on Interstate 27. That meant the deadlines for getting “late-breaking news” into the G-N would be pushed back. The paper needed time to get the pages assembled and then shipped to Lubbock, where it would end up on printing plates.

Bottom line? There would be no late-breaking news in the Globe-News.

Now they have added the mailing element to a newspaper that has been stripped of its viability because it cannot report news that happens at midnight.

I once worked for a newspaper in Oregon City, Ore., that around 1983 decided to start mailing its copies to subscribers. I left the paper in early 1984 headed for the Golden Triangle region of Texas. The experiment failed miserably. The paper folded in 1988 and vanished into the void.

A similar experiment is about to commence in Amarillo around the third week of July, as I understand it.

All I can do these days is sigh and bemoan what has happened to a news organization that once displayed a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service it won in 1961 for exposing government corruption in the region. That, folks, is the highest honor a newspaper can earn. The Pulitzer Board is still making that award, but in Amarillo and in the Panhandle, it is a distant memory now.

The days of great daily community journalism are long gone.

What does mailing the paper mean to those who still read the Amarillo Globe-News? It means they now will get a sheet of newsprint that is worth even less than it was before.

I detest bringing bad news to my friends in the Panhandle, but the end is approaching … rapidly.

We are entitled to tune ‘that man’ out?

Anderson Cooper said the following, in part, the other day after the immediate past POTUS appeared on his network to spread more lies and defame more people:

“You have every right to be outraged today and angry and never watch this network again,” Cooper said. “But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away? If we all only listen to those we agree with, it may actually do the opposite. If lies are allowed to go unchecked as imperfect as our ability to check them is on a stage in real time, those lies continue, and those lies spread. If you’re angry or upset, I understand, but you have the power to do something about it. You can actually get involved. You can make a difference, whatever side of the aisle you’re on. After last night, none of us can say I didn’t know what’s out there. I didn’t know what’s coming. We asked Republican Senators for their thoughts about last night. Some preferred not to say anything. Others did.”

You can read Cooper’s full monologue here:

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: You Have Every Right Never To Watch This Network Again After Trump Town Hall | Video | RealClearPolitics

Full disclosure: I didn’t watch him speak. I made a conscious decision to tune him out, to ignore the falsehood-filled rants he reportedly offered on CNN’s supposed “town hall” event.

My fellow Americans, we should prepare ourselves for much more of the same if this moron’s 2024 presidential candidacy gets that far.

I will cling to my hope that the state and federal indictments to come will pile up, burying this one-time reality TV celebrity/real estate mogul/serial philanderer/all-round evil presence under a mound of legal crises.

Free press is ‘essential’

President Joe Biden stood at the podium this weekend at the White House Correspondents Dinner and made a stern and steadfast declaration about the value of a free press.

“A free press is essential to a democratic society,” he said, “and it is not the enemy.”

I want to offer a brief endorsement of the president’s statement, as it reflects the kind of understanding that a free, aggressive and unfettered press brings to those in power and to those who make decisions that affect our lives each day.

I feel the need to offer this endorsement because of the pummeling the press has been taking during the past, oh, six or seven years. As a member of what the right wingers and the MAGA crowd calls the “mainstream media,” I have taken great personal offense at the epithets being hurled at hardworking, dedicated reporters who signed on to report truthfully and fairly.

Presidents of both political parties, with one notable exception, have understood the role that a free press plays in holding government officials accountable. Does anyone in power like negative reporting on his or her activities? Of course not! However, to a person — again, except one — acknowledge that criticism simply goes with the territory.

Donald J. Trump launched the war against the media with his proclamation that the media are “the enemy of the people.” He turned “fake news” into a cliche that his followers picked up. I won’t belabor the obvious hypocrisy in that label coming from the godfather of fake news and outright lies. I do, though, want to suggest that news that runs counter to officials’ point of view isn’t “fake”; it is the truth that officials just don’t always want to hear.

President Biden’s inherent understanding of the media’s role in keeping him and the government he inherited accountable for their actions is a welcome return to what has been the standard since the beginning of the Republic.

May the press always remain free of government interference … and able to keep our government’s feet to the fire.

What about those tapes?

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy turned over about 40,000 hours of video recording of the 1/6 insurrection to Tucker Carlson, the former star of the Fox Propaganda Network.

Fox canned Carlson this past week. My question now is this to the speaker: What about the video recordings you turned over to Fox? Are you going to get them back or is Carlson now free to use them whenever and wherever he pleases?

Carlson edited the video heavily while trying to develop a narrative on Fox that the insurrection wasn’t a violent attack on the government, that it was just a bunch of tourists out for a stroll through the Capitol grounds.

It was all part of The Big Lie that Carlson fomented after the 2020 presidential election.

Well, he’s gone from Fox. Speaker McCarthy must be compelled to get those recordings back … realizing, of course, that Carlson can reproduce them anyway.

The damage is done, but McCarthy needs to cut his losses — and the losses suffered by Americans concerned about what happened on that horrifying day of insurrection.

Carlson, Lemon gone … now what?

Tucker Carlson has departed the Fox Propaganda Network, seemingly resulting from The Big Lie over which the network was sued and then had to pay $787.5 million to settle with Dominion Voting Systems.

OK. What does that mean in my house? Not a damn thing, because I don’t watch Fox. However, I regret to acknowledge what I believe is the sad truth that Carlson is likely to land somewhere, continuing to spew the garbage he seeks to disguise as legitimate commentary.

Some right-wing network is likely to add Carlson to its roster of blowhards.

Oh, but wait! Don Lemon got the axe from CNN. Lemon said he is “shocked” by his ouster. Why did CNN let him go? Well, I must concede I know little about that, too. Because … I don’t watch Lemon, nor do I heed much of what he says about anything.

Here’s the thing about Lemon, too. A network is going to shell out a lot of money for him as well.

So, I won’t cry for either of these fellows.


Back to Carlson for a moment.

He became a major household talking point over his role in fomenting The Big Lie. Evidence was discovered in the run-up to the defamation lawsuit that Dominion settled with Fox that Carlson didn’t believe The Big Lie. He reportedly expressed extreme displeasure with the 45th POTUS in private.

Yet he went on the air with The Big Lie anyway.

Part of me wants to believe the Fox hierarchy cannot tolerate lying openly on the air. The rest of me believes Carlson’s departure is driven instead by a loss of revenue from supporters backing away from the network.

The Big Lie will fester in what passes for the minds of those who believe that the 2020 election was stolen from the 45th POTUS. It will fester whether Tucker Carlson is the air with Fox or with whichever network is willing to allow this know-nothing to blather about the lie.

It’s all about accountability

The Fox Propaganda Channel did not have to apologize for fomenting The Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion Voting Systems, which sued Fox for $1.6 billion, got precisely what it wanted and needed when Fox surrendered and agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement.

It received accountability from Fox.

Through all the pre-trial filings Fox had been handed defeat after defeat. The judge hearing the case had, in effect, already delivered the goods against Fox. The judge had determined that Fox lied to the public about the 2020 election. Therefore, the network did not need to issue a public apology to Dominion.

As I look back just a couple of days to the settlement, it is clear why Fox tossed in the towel. The company’s ownership did not want to expose its on-air personalities to rugged questioning from Dominion’s legal team about what they knew and believed when they kept repeating The Big Lie on air.

We had heard already about emails and other correspondence from the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo about what they thought of Donald Trump and his assertions about “widespread voter fraud.”

Did Dominion deserve an apology? No. It would have been nice, I suppose, to get one from Fox. In the grand scheme, Dominion got all that it wanted: proof of accountability from the Fox Propaganda Network.

Will Fox change its tune?

What does the settlement between the Fox Propaganda Channel and Dominion Voting Systems mean for the network that once called itself “fair and balanced”?

Only this, as far as I can see: The network will cease pushing the Big Lie about alleged voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election; the rest of its agenda appears to be intact and it will continue to appeal to the right-wingers who adhere to the narrative the network pushes out there.

Dominion sued Fox for $1.6 billion, contending the network defamed the company over unproved allegations that it manipulated ballots to deliver the 2020 election to President Biden. Fox knew the allegations were phony, yet its on-air talking heads kept spewing the lie. Dominion said “enough is enough” and sued Fox. The settlement means Fox will pay Dominion $787.5 million. It hasn’t issued an apology.

Frankly, though, I don’t care about the apology. I do care about Fox being held accountable for the lie it fomented. The judgment issued by the court holds the network accountable in the clearest terms possible.

Fox’s agenda remains fully assembled. The network does lay claim to a loyal base of viewers who listen only to their on-air personalities for the “news” they consume. Fox will continue to spew its propaganda, which I suppose is their right.

Lying to the point of defaming others, though, is off limits … to which I offer a hearty “amen.”