Category Archives: Blog

How Not To Treat The Press

 Meg Whitman

             photo: wiki commons  

The following blurb from Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle, is a classic example of how not to treat the press when running for public office.

“GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has been criticized for sidestepping news reporters’ questions, took heat Tuesday after she called the media to an “open” campaign event – then barred reporters from accompanying her on a tour of Oakland’s port and refused to take their questions.

Whitman appeared at Union Pacific Railroad’s office in Oakland after her campaign invited reporters to cover a “discussion” of her views on trade, jobs and the economy. A media advisory said the event for Whitman, which was to include a tour of Union Pacific’s intermodal facility, was “open to the media.”

Instead, reporters were herded into a holding room while Whitman toured the facility. Sarah Pompei, the candidate’s spokeswoman, said they were not allowed to accompany the former eBay executive on the tour because Union Pacific officials “did not want that to happen” and had barred the media.

Pompei invited reporters to listen to Whitman’s discussion with rail officials on “how she can be helpful as governor” on issues like jobs. But Pompei said reporters would not be allowed to ask questions because the candidate was pressed for time.

A Union Pacific spokesman, Aaron Hunt, appeared to contradict Pompei – telling The Chronicle that the company had always expected media to attend Whitman’s tour – and in fact, welcomed coverage.”-SF Chronicle

So they said the event was open, only to confine reporters to “a holding room” (oh, that’s a beauty) and then blamed the railroad when, apparently, it wasn’t the railroad’s idea?

If that’s what happened, then the campaign achieved a double-whammy of both alienating the press and leaving execs at the Union Pacific scratching their heads wondering why the Whitman campaign left them holding the bag for a bad decision they didn’t make.   I’d say it was impossible if I hadn’t been in similar situations myself, although at this moment I am having difficulty remembering anything quite so misguided.

Whitman, it appears, needs to sit down with her staffers and work things out.

Limbaugh Says He Will Leave

Rush Limbaugh, says he will leave the country if the health care reform bill passes.  Where will he go?  Costa Rica, he says.

Here’s the quote:

“I don’t know. I’ll just tell you this, if this passes and it’s five years from now and all that stuff gets implement, I am leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.”

There appears to be no rationale to what Limbaugh says because Costa Rica already has nationalized health care, but if it gets him out of the country who really cares?  Of course Rush Limbaugh says a lot of things, so maybe it’s too much to hope for.

(late add – 3/10) –  According to a piece in  The Huffington Post, Limbaugh now says he didn’t really mean it.   Makes you wonder how his listeners are supposed to differentiate between what Rush means and doesn’t “really” mean?   It’s problematic you see, because it wouldn’t be that tough to think Limbaugh was serious, as Costa Rica is supposed to be a pretty darn good place for Americans to go when they retire, what with the dollar going further and their excellent public health care and all…

Fox And MSNBC – Heavy On Commentary, Light On Reporters

 Terry McDermott writes in his piece “Dumb Like a Fox” in the Columbia Journalism Review-

“The perceived problem is not that Fox’s straight news is relatively bias-free and its opinion programming overwhelmingly conservative. The problem is that the news portion is very small and the opinion portion very large. It would indeed be like a traditional newspaper opinion-news division if the ratios were reversed.

Fox has a reporting and editing staff about one-third the size of CNN’s. Fox has many fewer bureaus, both domestic and international (again, about one-third CNN’s total). From personal experience covering news around the world, you almost always run into a CNN crew or stringer. You almost never run into a Fox reporter, and never one from MSNBC.” -CJR

On “Weaponizing” Dogs In Britain

 pit bull

 photo: tatiana sapateiro
The Brits are hashing out a move to force dog owners to implant microchips and take out insurance policies on their animals following complaints that bad guys who lack guns and knives are using dogs a weapons.

“The government’s proposals are aimed at tackling the growing problem of aggressive canines being used to harass, attack and even kill. In a country where guns are tightly controlled and even carrying a kitchen knife can result in a prison sentence, animal rights experts and politicians say street thugs have turned to dangerous-looking dogs to cow their victims.”– AP

Interesting.  Here in the U.S. the bad guys have all three, guns, knives and pit bulls ready to pounce.

Dave Bryan, Anderson Cooper, Anne Garrels Honored By L.A. Press Club

l.A. press club logo

‘”CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, NPR Senior Foreign Correspondent Anne Garrels and CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Dave Bryan will receive the Los Angeles Press Club’s highest honors at the 52nd Annual Southern California Journalism Awards on Sunday, June 27.Cooper will receive the President’s Award, for his impact on the media. He was the first American TV reporter on the scene in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in January. Since the launch of Anderson Cooper 360° in 2003, Cooper has covered nearly all of the major news events around the world, often reporting from the scene.

Bryan, a TV reporter for more than 30 years at KTTV and now at CBS2/KCAL9, will receive the Joseph M. Quinn Award for lifetime achievement.

Anne Garrels is the 2010 recipient of the Daniel Pearl Award for courage in recognition of her selflessness in pursuing difficult, often dangerous stories over the years around the world. The award will be presented by Judea Pearl, father of the late Wall Street Journal reporter killed by Pakistani extremists in 2002.

“It’s a great lineup for a great night in Southern California journalism,” says the new Press Club President Will Lewis, a public radio veteran based at KCRW-FM. “It proves the point that outstanding journalism continues despite unprecedented difficulties for all news media.”’ -LA Press Club

Congrats to all three recipients, and particularly my buddy Dave Bryan, a real reporter’s reporter of the old school.  A broadcast journalist who understands that the story is more important than he is.

The Backstory On The Lady In Purple

Here’s the backstory on the lady in purple who rushed in to hog the mic from Roger Ross Williams at the Academy Awards.

“Elinor Burkett, the redhead who seemingly flew in from the eaves clad in a purple Snuggie, had pulled out as producer of Roger’s short doc Music by Prudence over creative differences last year. After nominations were announced, however, she changed her mind about being associated with it.” -Laurie Pike / Los Angeles Magazine

If you need more, there are interviews with Williams and Burkett in Salon.com.

Along with many others, all I could think of as I watched Burkett charge the microphone, was the Kanye West incident at the MTV Awards.   I couldn’t help but wonder what’s happened to what used to be a common standard for politeness in our society as opposed to the utter disrespect so many people now show for one another.  Particularly with people of considerable achievement.   These people are supposedly near the top rung of our societal ladder.  When something like this happens it makes us all look like buffoons.

U.S. Chamber Increases Political Power

Tom Hamburger, has an interesting piece in the L.A. Times this morning on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce becoming increasingly powerful in American politics.

“The chamber’s expansion into grass-roots organizing — coupled with a large and growing fundraising apparatus that got a lift from Supreme Court rulings — is part of a trend in which the traditional parties are losing ground to well-financed and increasingly assertive outside groups. The chamber is certainly better positioned than ever to be a major force on the issues and elections it focuses on each year, analysts think.”  -LA Times

Time To Cut Sarah Palin A Break?

Sarah Palin
 photo: wiki commons

She left her post as Governor of Alaska early only to be blasted out of the saddle under intense fire from……uh…..Katie Couric?  She did an interview while turkeys were slaughtered in the background.   She was spotting Russians from her home turf in Alaska, even though it’s doubtful Mr. Putin will be swimming the Bearing Strait any time soon.  The more she spoke, droppin’ her g’s like a poor country cousin who went fishin’ and huntin’ and didn’t do nothin’ much more (like occasionally readin’ a newspaper),  the more it became painfully apparent that Sarah Palin wasn’t ready for the national stage.

Not her fault.

It was those nutty folks at the McCain campaign that asked her to run on a national ticket before she was prepared.    Think about it.   She was the Governor of Alaska, bagging caribou and promoting the gunning of wolves from airplanes, and she hadn’t even been doing that for very long.   Ill-prepared as she was, do you really think a success-hungry ladder climber like Sarah Palin would say no to a shot at being Vice President of the United States?

Like so many others, she just wanted to be somebody.  Is that so bad?  It’s what Mr. Obama wanted to encourage the children of America to do on live tv, only to be stopped by school boards that shook with fear when confronted by the possiblity of a racist backlash.

Put a little love in your hearts, America.  They might not let our intellectually superior Prez talk to the kids, but we’re bigger than they are.  Let’s prove it by cutting Sarah a break.

Sarah Palin, is a beauty contestant-type who went into broadcast journalism in an attempt to gain riches and fame.   Just like a lot of others.  How many beauty pageant contestants have smiled broadly while stating their goal in life is to be an anchorwoman?

When that wasn’t getting the job done,  she ran for Governor of Alaska and won.   I think I’ve got the sequence of events right.  Maybe not, as I’m no Sarah Palin biographer, nor do I care to go there, and it really doesn’t matter because it’s not about what she did, so much as the fact that she never gave up.  In that regard, Sarah Palin, exemplifies the American spirit.  You might hate to admit it, but it’s true.  I’m admitting it now and I don’t particularly care for Sarah Palin.

In America, it’s not what you’re handed, it’s what you do with what you’ve got that matters and Sarah continues to do all she can with what God gave her.   She is attractive and likable and like George W., a lot of people seem to identify with her.

With Dubya, it was the down home draw of King George II being the kind of guy you would invite over for beans, beer and barbecue.  Never mind that he couldn’t seem to get his facts straight or understand that the only similarity between Sweden and Switzerland is that the names of both countries begin with an “S.”   With Sarah, it’s wanting to go along as she jumps in the boat to go fishin’ for salmon, or headin’ out with a big-bore rifle to shoot anything on four legs that moves.  What a winky, kicky gal!  Why does any of this matter?

Because in politics, as in Hollywood, image is often more important than reality.   Judging by what happened to the ratings when Palin appeared on the big Leno “comeback” show, a lot of people like Sarah Palin’s image.   Anyway, she gave old Dave Letterman, a pretty good kick in the head.

For some folks, maybe a whole lot of people, the reality of what she can or cannot do politically or geopolitically is irrelevant.  That means, anything that gets her away from politics is something we should all support.   Pray for even , if that’s your bag.

It may all work out for the best (or as my grandmother used to say “It’ll all come out in the wash”) because, God willin’,  Sara Palin may soon be abandoning politics for show business, which is actually something she may be able to handle.

There may be a reality show in the works for the Palin family, and Huzzah for that!   It was noted on one of the talk  shows tonight that she’ll be doing a kind of reverse Ronald Reagan, jumping from politics into show biz, much to the relief of all who continue to hold out hope for a reasonable resolution to the Palin question.

Maybe she’ll lay a huge egg and just go away.  Now there’s a vision.  Or perhaps she’ll be the next big reality show superstar.   A kind of female version of the Ozzy Osbourne phenomenon.  A personification of the American dream.

Either way, we’ll have John McCain to thank for it.  And if it keeps her away from politics, who cares?

Beyond that, no matter what you may think of Sarah Palin’s abilities, you must admit that she appears to be doing the most she can with what she has.  Love her or hate her, you must concede that Sarah Palin never gave up.

Smithsonian Snubs Simpson

According to The Los Angeles Times, The Smithsonian Institution says it has no interest in accepting the suit, shirt and tie O.J. Simpson wore on the day he was acquitted of murder in criminal court.

“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will not be collecting O.J. Simpson’s suit,” the museum said in a statement. “The decision was made by the museum’s curators together with the director.”  -Shelby Grad /LA Times

O.J. Simpson’s Suit May Go To The Smithsonian

Fellow Simpson Trial veteran Linda Deutsch of the AP reports from Santa Monica, that the suit, shirt and tie O.J. Simpson wore when he was acquitted of murder in criminal court will be donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

Simpson was later found liable for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman in civil court in Santa Monica, and ordered to pay damages in the amount of $33.5 million.  Ron Goldman’s father, Fred, has been in a running battle to try and collect the court award.  Deutsch reports that Simpson’s former sports agent, Mike Gilbert, who had the clothing, came up with the idea of donating it to the Smithsonian, with no profits going to anybody.

The Smithsonian has not yet agreed to accept the clothing.

Simpson agreed to the deal from a prison cell in Nevada, where he is doing 9 years for robbery and kidnapping in connection with an unrelated case.   Mr. Simpson continues to insist he is innocent of killing his ex-wife and Ron Goldman even though he wrote a book entitled “If I Did It,”  based upon the idea of how Brown and Goldman were killed.  According to Simpson it’s all hypothetical, since he says he was nowhere near the murder scene when it happened.

The rights to the book were awarded to the Goldman family.  Apparently, they won’t be getting the suit, shirt and tie.  Presumably O.J.’s search for the real killers will continue upon his release.

Animal Activists Want Sea World To Move Orcas

 killer whales

                                               photo: noaa  

Animal activists speak out against the continued captivity of Killer Whales in a piece in the Los Angeles Times.    This latest round of opposition follows the death of a Sea World trainer on Wednesday.

“……the Humane Society of the United States, didn’t go as far as PETA in condemning SeaWorld but argued that conditions there were insufficient to keep an animal like Tilikum in a healthy mental state. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for the Humane Society, told the Orlando Sentinel that “[in] terms of his stress levels, his size is a factor,” referencing the orca’s much-publicized 12,000-pound frame. “He is so big, I don’t care how big SeaWorld’s tanks are, they are too small for him.”‘-LA Times

It’s being suggested the orcas could be moved to a transitional coastal marine sanctuary.

AL Gore Answers Skeptics On Climate Change

 Al Gore accepts Nobel Peace Prize 2007

                photo: kjetil bjornsrud

Al Gore answers climate change skeptics in an op-ed piece “We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change”  in the New York Times.

“I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.

It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law.

But the scientific enterprise will never be completely free of mistakes. What is important is that the overwhelming consensus on global warming remains unchanged. It is also worth noting that the panel’s scientists — acting in good faith on the best information then available to them — probably underestimated the range of sea-level rise in this century, the speed with which the Arctic ice cap is disappearing and the speed with which some of the large glacial flows in Antarctica and Greenland are melting and racing to the sea.”  –Al Gore 

26% Of America Gets News Via Cell Phones

That’s according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.    The study, “The New News Landscape: Rise Of The Internet” indicates Americans are getting their news from a mix of sources.

 “In the digital era, news has become omnipresent. Americans access it in multiple formats on multiple platforms on myriad devices. The days of loyalty to a particular news organization on a particular piece of technology in a particular form are gone. The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio and national newspapers. Some 46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform on a typical day.

The internet is at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.” -Pew Center Study