Tag Archives: Houston Chronicle

Cruz had the paper’s nod, then he lost it

Six years ago, Ted Cruz scored a key endorsement from a major Texas newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.

He was the hometown guy, a Houston resident who had become Texas solicitor general. Then he knocked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst out of the saddle while winning the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary; he would win the Senate seat handily that year.

Six years later, Cruz has squandered the support of the Chronicle, which has “enthusiastically” thrown its support behind Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

At one level this is a big deal. The Chronicle’s editorial spells out why Cruz has disappointed the paper’s editorial board. He’s self-serving, overly ambitious, too intent on furthering his own political interests, he ignores Texas’s needs, he is a grandstander.

Read the editorial here.

The paper suggests that O’Rourke, a native of El Paso and a member of the U.S. House, might be “the next Bobby Kennedy.” The paper is impressed with O’Rourke’s enthusiastic campaign and his stated commitment to Texas and to Texans. It notes that O’Rourke has “strong opinions” but “reaches out” to those with whom he disagrees.

At one level, I welcome the endorsement. Then reality kicks in. Will a newspaper’s statement matter? Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked sand in the faces of editorial boards statewide in 2010. He said he wouldn’t meet with editorial boards, preferring to “speak directly” to Texans as he campaigned for re-election; newspapers across the state endorsed former Houston Mayor Bill White — and Perry still won by a double-digit margin.

That all said, it’s advisable to take the Chronicle’s endorsement with a degree of skepticism. I don’t doubt for a moment that the paper believes O’Rourke would do a better job in the U.S. Senate. I agree with the paper, which makes it credible to my eyes.

I want to take particular note of how Cruz has become a Trump acolyte — even after Trump hung the “Lyin’ Ted” insult on him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary; he also denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. O’Rourke is likely to serve as a necessary check on a president who presents a host of dangerous notions for Americans to ponder.

If only this endorsement can turn the tide. One can hope. I will do so.

Sagan gets a (sort of) endorsement

My old buddy Greg Sagan is trying to do the nearly impossible: defeat longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry in this year’s midterm election.

Sagan has gotten some help from a most unlikely source. The question now though is this: What good will it do? I have an answer: Hardly none.

Still, the Houston Chronicle, which sits way down yonder on the Texas Gulf Coast, has urged readers of the paper to vote against Thornberry, who’s running for re-election in the 13th Congressional District, stretching from the Texas Panhandle to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Chronicle said “voters from Amarillo to Wichita Falls” should endorse the Democrat Sagan or the Libertarian Calvin DeWeese. The paper referred to the challengers as “two politicians who didn’t kick us while we were under 50-plus inches of floodwater.”

The Chron is angry that Thornberry was one of four Texas Republican congressmen to oppose aid to the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. You remember Hurricane Harvey, yes? It dumped all that rain a year ago along the Gulf Coast from Houston to the Golden Triangle.

Three of the four naysayers aren’t seeking re-election. Thornberry is the last man standing. He has drawn the ire of the Houston Chronicle. One of the GOP lawmakers who said “no” to Harvey funds is Sam Johnson of Plano, who happens to be my congressman now that my wife and I have moved to the Metroplex.

The task for Sagan now is spreading the word among Texas Panhandle voters about the seeming heartlessness of a native Texan who just couldn’t support legislation aimed at helping fellow Texans in maximum distress.

I am pulling for my pal, Greg Sagan.

Please, Mr. POTUS, campaign for Ted Cruz

I have just heard that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has asked Donald J. Trump to campaign for him as he seeks re-election to his Senate seat in Texas.

Do you know what that means … for me? It means that there’s a decent chance I’ll be within easy driving distance of a Trump rally if he agrees to campaign in Texas for the Cruz Missile — who once called Trump an “amoral … pathological liar.”

We live just north of Dallas these days. We’ll be on the road for most of August, but we’ll have a lot of time on our hands after we return from our trip out west.

Oh, how I want the president to come here. I would actually attend a campaign rally for Cruz if it takes place anywhere near Collin County, where we live.

Hey, we live in a gigantic metro area comprising roughly 7.5 million residents. That means that if Trump agrees, he well might come, say, to Dallas or Fort Worth to speak on behalf of Cruz.

I want to attend one of those dog-and-pony shows.

I’m a political junkie. I love campaign rallies. I’ve covered two national presidential nominating conventions — the 1988 GOP convention in New Orleans and the 1992 GOP event in Houston. I attended the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte; I had planned to cover it for the Amarillo Globe-News, but I quit that job suddenly just before the start of the convention. I went there with press credentials, but sat in the cheap seats as a spectator.

All of them were a serious blast and I learned so much getting to watch these events up close.

Donald Trump speaking in Texas on behalf of the state’s junior U.S. senator would be a worthwhile event, too.

Do not expect me to flip, to become a Trumpster listening to the president’s ranting and railing, his insult-hurling rhetoric.

As the Houston Chronicle has reported: Cruz is facing a tougher re-election campaign than many first expected. Polls from the last week have shown Cruz holding onto a single-digit lead over (Beto) O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso who has set records for Democrats fundraising in Texas.

Let me be clear: I do not want Cruz to be re-elected. I am going to support the Democratic challenger, O’Rourke. But I do want the president to come here to give Texans an up-close look at what a buffoon he can be when he launches into one of those unscripted riffs in front of adoring fans.

Please, Mr. President. Come to Texas! Hey, the Metroplex ought to be a big lure.

No ‘sightseeing’ here, Mr. POTUS

This picture showed up on my Facebook news feed. It’s a page from today’s Houston Chronicle, the newspaper that has told the compelling, heartbreaking and heroic stories stemming from the Hurricane Harvey onslaught.

There’s a point here, of course. The headline refers to that idiotic comment the other day from Donald Trump, who suggested that Texans were out looking at the storm in their boats, causing the rash of water rescues rescues from first responders.

He was on that conference call with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials when he blurted out yet another thoughtless comment, this time about Hurricane Harvey.

The storm dumped 50 inches of rain on the Gulf Coast in the span of 24 hours this past summer. Gawkers? Rubberneckers? Is that what Trump said was occurring out there in the midst of the storm?

The Houston Chronicle has offered the perfect response.

Empower Texans: It’s hitting the fan

The media are beginning to peel back the mystery surrounding a political action group that calls itself Empower Texans.

What are we seeing now? It ain’t pretty, folks.

Empower Texans is pouring lots of money into campaigns around the state. It has targeted a couple of seats in the Panhandle with a reprehensible smear campaign.

The group’s actions have been noticed by the media, which are reporting on them with the kind of gusto one saw during other hot political disputes. Watergate comes to mind. So does the Lewinsky scandal.

Let’s take a gander at Michael Quinn Sullivan, the guy who detests state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and is backing former Midland Mayor Mike Canon’s bid to unseat Seliger.

Sen. Seliger has not hidden his dislike of Sullivan, who runs the ultra-right-wing organization. Sullivan has returned the favor by pouring lots of money into Canon’s campaign. Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe takes particular note of an essay that Amarillo Globe-News columnist Jon Mark Beilue wrote in which he compared Empower Texans to Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

Read Ratcliffe’s essay here. Ratcliffe contends that Empower Texans is subverting democracy by falsifying incumbents’ records, as it has done with Seliger.

Empower Texans also has glommed onto something called the Granny Tax in its effort to unseat state Rep. Four Price, another Amarillo Republican.

Price’s challenger, Fritch City Manager Drew Brassfield, has campaign contributions from wealthy downstate interests that comprise 61 percent of his total campaign intake. Empower Texans has its mitts on that race, too, having endorsed Brassfield over Price.

Empower Texans has fabricated an issue, contending that Texas House members intended to raise taxes on nursing homes, thus penalizing elderly residents of those facilities. Thus, the “Granny Tax” was born.

It didn’t exist.

Scott Braddock of the Houston Chronicle lays out Empower Texans’ deception here.

We are witnessing a despicable display of demagoguery perpetrated by interests who have zero interest in the Texas Panhandle or in West Texas. They are seeking to unseat individuals who don’t grovel at the feet of powerful interests.

Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. Four Price must not fall victim to this kind of defamation.

As Beilue noted in his column: ‚ÄúThey (Empower Texans) are using their typical campaign playbook‚ÄĒpaint their guy as the conservative choice, and the other guy as basically a Democrat by distorting and taking facts out of context to make them seem soft on abortion and a patsy for big government. Their hope is enough voters are gullible and na√Įve to believe it all.‚ÄĚ

Man, I certainly hope West Texas Republican primary voters are smarter than that.

I tip my hat, moreover, to the Texas political media for revealing this lie to a voting public that needs to see it.

Now … who will get my local paper’s endorsement?


This just in … The Houston Chronicle has endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the presidency of the United States.

The Chronicle said in its editorial that it normally waits until the end of the campaign to make its recommendation. It backed Mitt Romney in 2012.

This year, it’s different, according to the Chronicle. The paper’s editorial board has made up its mind. The nation needs a “steady hand” in “these unsettling times.” The hand doesn’t belong to Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.


I don’t know why I should care, but I do wonder who will get the backing of my local newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years. I quit my job there at the end of August 2012.

I have no contact with the AG-N’s editorial board, which comprises the publisher and its director of commentary. I can only offer an educated guess how they’ll go, given the paper’s history of backing Republicans for president — and given the paper’s corporate ownership, which has a¬†visceral loathing of Hillary Clinton.

My guess is that a lot of newspapers are going to weigh in early — and perhaps often — on this race. They’ll decide, perhaps as the Houston Chronicle has decided, that there’s no reason to wait. Whether they’re favoring Clinton or Trump, let’s get it out there on the record, they might surmise.

As for the Amarillo Globe-News, they’re likely to preach to the proverbial choir by backing Trump, who’s likely to carry on the Republican tradition of capturing a majority of votes in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.

The serious stunner would be if the G-N backs Clinton.

Don’t look for hell to freeze over.

My interest will lie in how the paper makes its case for Trump and how much of this individual’s record it will ignore.



A vet opens fire … and that’s relevant to what?


A headline appeared in the Houston Chronicle that said a gunman has been identified as a “military vet.”

Is it just me, or is there a bit of generalizing here that resembles what happened to veterans of another era?

Someone tell me that’s not happening.


Returning service personnel are coming home from war in Afghanistan and, earlier, from Iraq. Many of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, the ailment once known as “shell shock.”

A gunman opened fire in Houston, killing at least one person, injuring others and then was killed by a police SWAT officer.

Here’s my concern.

I hope we don’t see news reports that seem to equate someone’s military service to a crime they might commit.

You might recall how it was often reported during the 1970s and 1980s when people committed violent crimes and the headlines often would say something like: “Vietnam vet goes berserk” or “Vietnam veteran suspected of killing children.”

Do you get where I’m coming from? There seemed to be some correlation made immediately that connected the perpetrator’s terrible deed to his service in Vietnam. That war, some have argued, turned returning soldiers into caricatures, even though they represented a tiny fraction of all the people who served with honor and distinction during that terrible conflict.

The vast majority of them did their duty, came home, readjusted to civilian life quickly, and became normal folks just doing whatever it is normal folks do.

I surely hope we do not paint returning veterans today with the same kind of broad brush that coated an earlier generation of warriors.


Yes, it’s a cutthroat business


Media companies operate in a highly competitive and often ruthless environment.

A take-no-prisoners approach to wheeling and dealing is commonplace. Consider the recent acquisition by the Tampa Bay Times of the Tampa Tribune. The Times bought the Tribune and then shut the paper down after a 123-year run on the other side of the Florida bay.

According to the New York Times article attached here, former Tribune employees felt betrayed by the takeover. They didn’t see it coming.

Well, let me be among the many individuals who’ve worked in print journalism to offer this bit of solace, not that it will soothe the pain: It could’ve been worse.

I worked for nearly 11 years for the Hearst Corporation, which has exhibited its own heavy hand in acquiring competing newspapers. Although I wasn’t affected directly by Hearst’s takeover strategy, I know many former colleagues who were.

In the late 1980s, Hearst was operating the San Antonio Light, which was in the midst of a nasty newspaper “war” with the San Antonio Express-News, which was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s company. Hearst decided to take the offensive, so the company moved the publisher of the Beaumont Enterprise, where I worked at the time, to San Antonio to take over as head man at the Light; I believe it was in 1988.

The new Light publisher — George B. Irish — was given the task of preparing for a serious corporate takeover.

Hearst decided to purchase Express-News — and then it promptly shut down the Light. Yes, the company “rewarded” its loyal employees, who had fought the good fight against the E-N, by giving almost all of them their pink slips.

A handful of Light hands were kept on. Most were let go. If memory serves, they were given severance packages. Still, the pain was palpable.

In 1995, Hearst went after the Houston Post. It purchased that paper, closed it down and left the state’s largest city with just one paper, the Chronicle, which Hearst already owned.

It’s a tough world, man.

I feel for my former colleagues in Tampa. Please know this: You are not alone.