Tag Archives: fake news

Defending the media

I cannot let go of the idiotic pronouncement that the “media are the enemy of the people.” I know I have commented on this already, but I want to lay one more thought on it for you … then I’ll move on — until the next time.

The idiocy came from Donald J. Trump. He keeps to this very day suggesting that the media peddle “fake news.” His cult followers have bought into it. I am actually acquainted with some of them in Texas, although my acquaintance is distant, through social media and so forth.

What I want to say once more with all the emphasis I can muster is that those who toil for media outlets do so out of their desire to tell the truth. And to make a difference. And to fulfill the unwritten — but clearly understood — tenets of good journalism: It is to be accurate and to treat all sides to an issue with fairness.

My days as a full-time print journalist are behind me now. I still am working on a freelance basis for two media outlets: a weekly newspaper in Collin County and a public radio station in Commerce, over yonder in Hunt County.

I can speak only for myself, but my story is identical to those still in the business of telling their communities’ stories. We do it out of love and respect for the communities we serve. I am one journalist who never during my whole time pursuing my craft deliberately told a falsehood in my reporting or in a commentary I wrote while I was writing for and editing opinion pages.

For those who suggest the media are peddling fake news, they insult all of us who love our craft to our core.


Silly me … so much for offering a different view

Gosh, I guess I was more optimistic about my membership in a social media group than I should ever have been.

I joined a conservative group on Facebook several months ago. I joined to read what the other side is saying about issues of the day. My eyes have been opened, not because I am surprised, but by the various directions certain arguments are able to take from those seeking to make a point.

That’s all fine.

Then I chimed in this morning with a comment about former national security adviser Michael Flynn. A member of this group called Flynn an “honorable man.” Bear in mind that the retired Army lieutenant general set a dubious record by serving just 24 days before he was kicked out for lying to the FBI. I merely questioned the individual’s assertion that Flynn is honorable.

Then came the push back.

To be clear, it wasn’t vicious or malicious. It was, um, just pointed and it told me in clear terms that the folks who belong to this group are in no mood to hear from someone with my particular bias; they are interested only in hearing the bias expressed by those with whom they agree.

I suppose I need to recognize that liberal-leaning social media groups aren’t inclined to welcome thoughts from those on the right. There. I just did recognize that lefties’ bias is as intractable as those who oppose them.

The only criticism I heard that compels to respond directly came from someone who accused me of adhering to the “fake news” media outlets. I will say only that Donald J. Trump and his cabal of cultists are the masters of promoting “fake news.” Example? The Big Lie about the 2020 election being stolen and rigged. That is as “fake” as it gets!

Hey, I won’t take any of it personally. I’ll just be sharing my world view on this blog, which is open to anyone who wants to read it … even those who disagree with it.

If so, let me know what you think. I won’t bite back … I promise!


‘Truth in journalism’ still exists

Truth in journalism,” once a reporter’s credo, is now a relic of a bygone era.

Right there is a nugget of, um, faux wisdom from someone who has swilled the “fake news” Kool-Aid that Donald J. Trump and his cabal of kooks keep spreading about those of us who practice — or who have practiced — what I consider to be among the noblest of crafts.

“Truth in journalism” is alive and well. I am proud of the craft I pursued for nearly four decades and which I still am pursuing, albeit on a part-time freelance basis. I don’t comment on the issues I cover for a weekly newspaper in Collin County, Texas; I save my commentary for this blog, given that commentary and straight news reporting are different species altogether. More on that in a moment.

What was introduced into mainstream debate as a preposterous assertion by the former POTUS has become a sort of code for those who continue to buy into his lies, deception and hypocrisy. “The media are the enemy of the American people,” Trump continues to bellow, even though he no longer is president and — as I am hoping — never will be again.

The media are no one’s enemy. The media are full of dedicated professionals who do their job without prejudice or favor. They report the news and it then becomes up to the public to consume that news and make their own judgments on the accuracy and fairness of what they are consuming.

Too many of us, though, rely solely on those who don’t report the news, but who comment on it, providing their own spin on the same information that goes into the hearts and minds of everyone.

The individual who provided that nugget I delivered at the top of this blog post seems to be one of those types. This person has ingested the Donald Trump view that the media are the enemy, not to be trusted but to be hated. That saddens me greatly, because this person is far from alone in that view.

This individual is part of a society that has thrown aside information it receives from those who report the news with accuracy and fairness; this person relies on those who present their opinion on issues that comport with their own world view.

This person does not know — or has forgotten — the difference between news reporting and commentary.

Who, then, is the real “enemy of the people,” those who report the news or those who misconstrue it?


Who seeks to ‘rig’ election?

Oh, how I want to take the findings of an audit in Arizona seriously.

It’s hard when the audit of the 2020 presidential election in that state is done by an outfit with no experience conducting such an audit. They were brought in to find fraud that didn’t exist.

Now we hear from Cyber Ninjas that the Maricopa County, Ariz., returns were legitimate and that Joe Biden won that state’s electoral votes while winning the presidency.

Which brings me to this point, which is that the 45th POTUS keeps yammering about the 2020 election being “rigged.” It wasn’t. The Cyber Ninjas finding illustrates it nicely. The only “rigging” being done is by the 45th POTUS who keeps yapping about vote fraud. He is trying to overturn a legitimate election that he lost by more than 7 million ballots.

It all points to yet another irony of this individual’s brief stint as POTUS. He bellowed about “fake news” while pulling fake news out of his rear end almost daily. Now he is hollering about a rigged election while seeking to rig it all by himself.

How does anyone on this good Earth possibly take this clown seriously?


No ‘news’ at news conference

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It appears about the only thing the right-wing media can fault from President Biden’s first news conference is his shunning of a Fox News White House reporter.

Biden didn’t call on Fox’s Peter Doocy to ask him a question at the hour-long presser. Some members of the conservative media took that as a direct slam at the right-leaning network.

I just want to remind everyone of the way Donald Trump used to insult mainstream reporters before turning his attention over to Fox reporters at the press events he would conduct.

You might recall how Trump once told CNN reporters that they worked for a “fake news” network or how he told ABC News’s Jonathan Karl that he never would make it as a reporter or how he would chastise media representatives for asking “nasty” questions.

So, the president didn’t give a Fox reporter a chance to ask him something? Big deal. There will be other opportunities.

POTUS vs. media: It’s not warfare

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has brought back what looks to me like the traditional give-and-take between the nation’s chief executive and the men and women who report on it all to the people of this country.

It’s a classic confrontation between the president and the media.

Why is this refreshing? Why even comment on it? Because for four years prior to Biden becoming president the nation witnessed what looked at times like a mortal struggle between the president and the organizations he routinely called “fake news.”

Donald Trump poisoned the traditional relationship, turning it into a ridiculous exhibition of presidential petulance. It fed into the anger that reporters had to have felt as they were berated and ridiculed by Trump, who lied to them, then denigrated them for revealing his lies.

Donald Trump infamously labeled the media the “enemy of the people.” They aren’t. The media comprise professionals who do their level best to report on the administration’s statements and actions.

Today, we witnessed a return to how it used to be and how it likely will remain for the foreseeable future.

The reporters gathered for President Biden’s first news conference as president did not ask softie questions. They pushed him on immigration policies, on the border crisis. They wanted to know how he intended to handle our ongoing military engagement in Afghanistan. They pressed Biden on the pandemic response.

During the Trump years, reporters would ask those kinds of questions and would get snarky responses questioning their integrity, their intelligence, their honesty or even the financial condition of their employer.

Joe Biden has felt the sting of intensely negative media  reporting. It occurred in 1988 when the media report to describe his own life story. It happened again when his second presidential campaign flamed out in 2008. Even in the early months of the 2020, the media reported that Biden was nothing more than political road kill after his dismal Democratic Party primary finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

The media report on these matters. Joe Biden knows it. He gets it. He lives with it.

Now, as President Biden, he will continue to be examined critically by the media. As he demonstrated at his presser today, the president understands the traditional role the media play. It is an essential part of the greatness imbued in our democracy and our nation.

How will they remember us?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As I communicate occasionally with former colleagues of mine around the country I am left with a stunning realization.

It is that the communities where I worked for 37 years in daily journalism are not alone as the newspapers that once served them with pride — and occasionally with tenacity — are dying before the communities’ eyes.

There was a time when I was feeling a bit of a complex about the communities where I worked. I started my career in Oregon City, Ore.; the newspaper that served that town is now gone, closed up, the building wiped off the slab on which it sat. I gravitated to Beaumont, Texas, where I worked for nearly 11 years; the company that owns that paper is now trying to sell the building and the news staff has been reduced to virtually zero. Then I moved to Amarillo and worked there for nearly 18 years; same song, different verse than what is playing out in Beaumont, except that Amarillo’s newspaper staff has vacated the building and is now housed in a downtown bank tower suite of offices.

Did I contribute to their death or terminal illness?

Then comes the other question: How will our descendants remember us?

I have a granddaughter who’s almost 8 years old. I actually wonder what she will say if someone were to ask her, “What did your grandpa do for a living?” Could she answer the question in a way that makes sense to her and to the person who asks it? I hope her mommy and daddy will help explain it to her. I will do my best to put it in perspective when the moment presents itself.

I am proud of the career I pursued. I did enjoy some modest success over the decades. My peers honored my work on occasion with awards. It’s not about that, of course. We did our jobs with a commitment to tell the truth and, in my case as an opinion writer and editor, to offer our perspectives fairly and honestly.

This transition is playing out everywhere in the land.

I spoke this week with a friend in Roanoke, Va., a fellow opinion journalist, who told me that paper also has suffered grievously in this new age of social media, live-streaming and cable TV news/commentary. I hear the same from others in the upper Midwest. I see circulation figures from major newspapers and cringe at the calamitous decline in paid readership.

For example, my hometown newspaper, the (Portland) Oregonian, once circulated more than 400,000 copies daily; the World Almanac and Book of Facts says the paper now sells 143,000 newspapers each day.

I feel like a dinosaur … and I take small comfort in knowing that there are many of us out there who lament the pending demise of a proud craft. I hope for all it’s worth that whatever emerges to take our place will continue to tell the truth and do so with fairness.

Media: an ‘enemy’ no longer

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You no doubt have noticed what I have noticed.

It is that the media that cover the White House have developed an immediate and highly professional relationship with the folks who run the executive branch of our federal government.

We haven’t seen or heard shouting matches between reporters and White House press aides. Nor have we seen angry tweets from President Biden complaining about how the media are acting like “the enemy of the American people.” 

Have the media gone soft on the new president or on those who speak for him? No. They haven’t. Unless you consider the proper relationship between reporters and those who work for our government a symptom of softness.

I am acutely aware that the relationship between the media and the administration is still a work in progress. I don’t expect entirely smooth sailing with the Biden administration as it plows through the field of policy matters it must confront. There will be missteps, mistakes and perhaps even a misstatement or two along the way. The media will report on them all, just as they have done since the beginning of the republic.

The stark contrast will occur when the Biden administration responds to the critical reporting. Unlike what we saw during the Donald Trump administration, I do not expect to hear blanket allegations of “fake news” coming from administration officials in response to reporting.

There well could be testy exchanges between White House press aides and higher-level officials and the media. I do not expect to hear insults hurled at reporters from the press secretary or certainly from President Biden.

Joe Biden has danced around this media pea patch for nearly five decades as a U.S. senator, as vice president and as a three-time presidential candidate. Now he is the president of the United States and he understands in a way that Donald Trump never grasped that the media are there to do their job.

That job is to hold the government accountable for every decision it makes and every statement its officials utter in public.

That, I dare say, is one way you can define a nation’s greatness.

How can this election be corrupt?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

All this yammering and blathering from Donald J. Trump about a “rigged election” and “rampant voter fraud” keeps bringing me back to a single question.

Which is this: How in the name of national security, after all this nation endured with Russian hacking of our electoral system in 2016, could there possibly be a more secure election than the one we have just had?

Donald Trump lost his re-election bid to President-elect Joe Biden. His insistence that Biden won only because the election was “rigged” to produce that outcome is far more than laughable on its face. It is dangerous and demeaning.

Trump’s refusal to concede the results of the election is dangerous because it gives comfort to despots around the world who run nations hostile to ours comfort. It well might embolden them to do things that could undermine our national confidence even further. We are taking our eyes off the threats abroad, concerning ourselves with phony allegations of voter fraud.

His refusal also is demeaning to the thousands of state and local election officials who are charged with conducting these elections. They hold the responsibility of protecting our electoral system against “rigging” or other forms of corruption that the president of the United States — our head of state for God’s sake! — keeps suggesting has occurred.

President-elect Biden has a difficult enough task ahead  of him without the idiocy being fomented by his immediate presidential predecessor. That is what this is. It is idiocy of the lowest order.

As President Obama said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, a president must always put the nation’s interests ahead of his own ego. Donald Trump is being ruled by his fragile sense of self-worth and in the process is putting our entire system of government in potentially dire peril.

And to what end?

If there was any reason to have confidence in the integrity of this election, the foolishness that erupted in 2016 provided it in spades.

Dear folks, we are watching the cultivation by Donald Trump of fake news in real time.

Biden’s unity pitch hits roadblock … from Trump!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I always knew that President-elect Biden’s promise to unify the country after four years of Donald Trump’s tenure as president would be a heavy lift.

What I didn’t know,  until just recently, was that Trump himself would be piling on the weights to make that effort even more difficult.

Donald Trump keeps insisting that Biden’s victory is the result of a “rigged election.” It is no such thing. The problem for the president-elect, though, is that so many millions of Trumpkins have bought into the clap trap that Trump is offering, not to mention the vast majority of Republican members of both congressional chambers.

Therefore, you have a situation with a Democrat– that being Biden — scoring a significant vote-count and Electoral College victory over the Republican incumbent, but with Trump’s “base” of sycophantic voters and politicians buying into the phony charge of “widespread election fraud.”

Call me a cynic, but Donald Trump has zero interest in uniting the country. He has not a scintilla of care for the damage he is doing by fomenting yet another lie. He blathers about “fake news media” endorsing Biden while at the same time offering his own fake news by suggesting voter fraud where none exists.

I have harbored some glimmer of hope that Trump eventually will concede in some fashion to the president-elect; my sense is that it won’t be a traditional concession … if it comes.

The longer this ridiculous game goes on, the harder it might get for Donald Trump to say publicly what the rest of us know already.

Which is that he has been drummed out of office!

I now worry about the worsening of the difficulty of the task of unification that awaits President Biden. What’s more, I am enraged that the future former president is putting his own narcissism in front of the nation’s future.

So help me, Hanna. Donald Trump is a dangerous man.