Category Archives: Media

Random Thoughts II

So the “election” has concluded in Russia, where exit polling indicates Vladimir Putin’s party will again be the big winner? And the major media is reporting out the story as though it should be taken with even an ounce of credibility? Seriously?

Down in the great State of Florida, currently so overcome by the Delta Variant, that for a time they were putting up tents, that goober police department that failed to take the boyfriend into custody or at least keep him under surveillance after he returned from a trip with his girlfriend’s camper but not the girlfriend, has yet to provide any explanation as to how they could so completely botch things up. Somebody from the media needs to go after them and the local DA with a vengeance, until they get some answers. Maybe Barney Fife was on duty when the boyfriend came back with the van but without the now missing girlfriend? According to one report, the cops in North Port, Florida, are now working on “multiple person investigations,” and are asking anyone with any information to contact the FBI. Yeah, contact the FBI, that’s probably a real good idea.

Some consideration needs to be given to the fact that the Islamic State is taking credit for a couple of bombing attacks against the Taliban. In other words, the civil war in Afghanistan continues but without Americans being stuck in the middle. Is there anybody out there who still believes we shouldn’t have gotten out? That Joe Biden, didn’t do the right thing? I’m sure there are, but then, some still believe the election was stolen and that we continue to be under threat from Jewish space lasers.

And finally, congratulations to the four civilian astronauts who just managed to orbit the earth and splash back down into the ocean. Something Col. John Glenn, USMC, accomplished in 1962, as part of a space program that was a joint military/civilian effort which concluded with our putting men on the Moon.

Glenn , for those who don’t know, was the first American, to orbit the earth. At the time it was a huge big deal, because the Russians had already done it, we were playing catch up, and Glenn, put his life on the line to get it done using rocket science which, at the time, wasn’t all that dependable. Our rockets were famous for blowing up.

I knew John Glenn, and he was probably the closest anybody will ever come to being a real-life “Captain America.” Consequently, I can’t get too excited about these billionaires going out into space to play, only because they are standing on the shoulders of giants like Col. Glenn. A little more perspective on what’s really happening, a little context with regard for the past would be nice. All I’m hearing is a lot of mindless cheerleading, almost nothing about the giants who got us to where we now are or the possible pitfalls of abandoning what was a relatively successful civilian/military partnership, in favor of a privatized space program. Something tells me that at some point we may come to regret this whole privatization thing. It would be nice, at least, if somebody started talking about it. If not thinking about it as well. I know that’s asking a lot.

If you missed Ted Koppel’s piece on ‘CBS Sunday Morning,’ then you missed a wonderful piece of broadcast journalism. It deals with the real “Mayberry, RFD,” in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the boyhood home of Andy Griffith. How it’s been idealized and why, and what it might mean to us as a country. Koppel’s report was excellent. Here’s a link to it. Click here.

Have a nice day.

The Mainstream Media Needs To Get Off Biden’s Back And Do Its Job

Back when I was still working for others, as a member of the “mainstream media,” it always amazed me that there was a pervasive view of what we were doing as a targeted attack on somebody or some idea, when all we were trying to do was present the facts while being fair to all sides involved by keeping our personal opinions out of it. Now, here I am, thirteen years away from the business, and it appears to me that the mainstream is launching an attack on Joe Biden. An attack that is unbalanced, without context and therefore, unfair.

Biden, went from being in the hotseat for pulling the country out of Afghanistan, to being the guy whose popularity plummeted as he attempted to manage “multiple crises,” for which, it was made to appear, he was somehow responsible. It was pack-journalism “multiple-crises” time. I don’t know who started it but before long it was pervasive. Let’s take them one by one.

With regard to Afghanistan, it’s too early following the pullout to condemn anybody for anything. The point, I think, is that a great many Americans are just happy to be out of that unholy mess. War without end, amen. You can have it. It could be that years from now, Biden will be seen as the one president who finally had the courage to get us out of there and that going into Iraq, was a mistake from the beginning. A Republican mistake.

Then there is Covid. Biden didn’t start that one, either, but it could be argued he is managing it as best anybody could under the circumstances, and certainly a thousand times better than Trump and the Republican anti-vaxers did.

Rounding out the tri-fecta of media crisis condemnation is Hurricane Ida. Again, this is not Biden’s fault and he and the Feds responded to it in a timely fashion. No, he wasn’t out throwing paper towels at the peasants like the idiot Donald was, and his response was again a thousand times better than either Trump or Bush.

Biden got us out of an endless war he did not start. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, did. Biden, is also doing a better job of handling the Covid situation and problems associated with Hurricane Ida, than any of his Republican predecessors, particularly Trump, whose stalling and denial in the beginning only made matters worse with Covid, and George W. Bush, who pretty much just ignored Katrina until it became so embarrassing that he was forced to leave his birthday party and go do something.

But these facts, this perspective, is seldom or never mentioned by the mainstream media, which seems intent upon condemning Joe Biden, making it look like they are trying to take him down, rather than pursuing an accurate contextual accounting with regard for historical perspective. You know, balanced journalism, without continuing to pretend the developing fascism of the right should be treated with the same credibility and validity as those who believe in and continue to support democracy.

It is past time to stop pretending this is about anything less than the central question of the expanding fascism of the right taking on the patriotism of those in the center and on the left who are being pilloried for their alleged liberalism. Or, simply put, Neo-Nazism on one side and the supporters of American democracy on the other.

This is not opinion. To any reasonable, rational, informed person, it is fact. And it is time for the mainstream to get down to business and begin reporting out the facts regardless of the backlash, because our country, our very liberty, is at stake. Business as usual, pretending both sides have equal validity, no longer works. Not when one side is Neo-Nazi, and cares nothing for the truth. It is time for the mainstream to get out of the hair and makeup infotainment business and back in the journalism first business, no matter how much it hurts.

It almost feels like the mainstream is afraid of telling it like it is with regard to how badly the Republican Party has abused and misused the power it has been granted by the American people over the past several decades as Republicans continue to shift from the party of Reagan, to a Neo-Fascist mob.

A gang of liars who fear the truth will expose them for who they are. Women-hating, gun-toting, science-deniers, who attempted a coup de’tat against the country and failed. The mainstream media needs to get on that instead of attacking Joe Biden, who so far, has done a pretty damn good job as President, without inciting a riot or encouraging anyone to stage a coup.

Goodbye, Mr. Grant

Learned today that Ed Asner had died. And Lou Grant, along with him. A purist has left us.

I first met Mr. Grant, on tv, while working as a reporter for WBNS-TV, in Columbus, Ohio. I hadn’t paid any attention to the Mary Tyler Moore Show before Columbus, but when I got there and noticed everything in the newsroom either slowed or stopped when the “MTM” show came on, I too, started paying attention and laughing along with everybody else.

Often times, the buffoonery the show portrayed was close to the truth of what went on in America’s tv newsrooms. Sometimes, it was right on target. Uncomfortably so, for some of us in the business.

The second time I met Lou Grant, it was at a fundraiser for a youth symphony orchestra in Los Angeles, and he was playing Ed Asner. We were in what was serving as a “green room” for celebs. I knew who he was and was surprised when he knew who I was as well, and for some reason, maybe because he had played a tv newsman and I was a tv newsman, we hit it off and started talking about the news business.

It was his contention, that the news business was done. That it was dead, and that it wasn’t coming back. For my part, I argued that like everything else, the news game is cyclical, and while the trend toward “infotainment” may have taken us down the wrong path, surely it would not last. Surely, the pendulum would eventually swing back in the direction of journalism being primary and infotainment being secondary. I pointed out that we had previously gone from the “yellow journalism” of William Randolph Hearst, to the excellent product the New York Times and CBS News were putting out in the 1960’s, with Walter Cronkite on the news desk. “Not gonna happen,” he said. And that was that. Lou Grant in the person of Ed Asner, had spoken. Or maybe it was Ed Asner, speaking for Lou Grant. For just a minute there, as the conversation got a little heated, I wasn’t sure.

I never bumped into him again, at least not that I can remember. If you’re in Hollywood long enough you meet so many celebrities so many times that you forget who you met when or how often, and I was there for more than 30 years. What I can tell you is that I’m not sure Asner wasn’t right in his conviction that the golden era of American Journalism is over and that it won’t be coming back. At least, not like before. Not like it was when Lou Grant was City Editor at a major paper in Los Angeles, working for a family that cared about their reputation in the community as opposed to a corporation that cares only for the bottom line. I just don’t know. I do know from following his political causes that Ed Asner, was a purist. A great actor who gave life to the characters he portrayed and believed in the purity of the causes he supported like the United Farm Workers and the Screen Actors Guild, where he served two terms as president.

His death leaves a big hole in who we are. Regardless of what you might have thought about his politics. Perhaps I feel this way because I spent a lifetime in the news business. Or maybe it’s because Ed Asner was just that good at bringing to life the character of Lou Grant, and the ethical, principled and fair, old-school news business he represented.

He may have been art representing reality, but it’s a reality we all desperately need.

More Than We Can Handle

The endless Covid/Cuomo cycle to the exclusion of almost everything else on the 7/24 channels will put you in therapy if you let it. Just like FOX, CNN and MSNBC, put Donald Trump in the White House. Just as the unending stream of accusation is about to sink the career of Andrew Cuomo and possibly his brother as well, simply for being his brother.

After hearing someone being condemned forty or fifty times, one is likely to believe the condemnation regardless of its legitimacy.

This incessant yammering about the same two or three stories over and over is dangerous. The government needs to step in and somehow balance out the demands of the First Amendment with what’s best for the country as new tech continues creating a new intensity in communications with too little attention being paid to the quality of the product.

As a species, we are barely beyond the “monkey see, monkey do” phase in our development. We can’t be expected to deal with this.

The Standup Routine In L.A.

During my tenure at KTLA, the morning news people wanted me to go over to one of the comedy clubs in Hollywood, get some training on how to do standup, and then go on stage with my “act” while our cameras rolled. I said no, not because I didn’t think it might not be an interesting experience, but because the thought of doing standup comedy terrified me.

A famous actress once told me how much she admired those of us who did live tv news, because, she explained, we had to talk off the tops of our heads, with no script and no room for mistakes. That said, doing standup comedy has to be one of the most frightening things I can think of. Standing out there under the lights all by yourself with the obligation of making people laugh is to me way scarier than doing live tv news. And increasingly, it’s becoming next to impossible due to the ever-expanding universe of political correctness.

In this current environment one wrong word or distasteful act can be a career ending mistake. For some, there are no second chances, even after an apology for something that was done years ago. What Al Franken did was dated, and not totally unexpected for someone who had been a cast member of Saturday Night Live. Nevertheless, he was treated like a felon and cast out from his job in the United States Senate, for the act of making someone of the opposite sex feel uncomfortable – before he had become a senator. The overreaction to Franken’s transgression will surely go down as a mistake made by a party caught up in the fever and fury of PC reform.

In the 60’s, Foster Brooks was one of the funniest comedians out there. His portrayal of a sloppy drunk wouldn’t stand a chance today. He would in fact, probably be barred from the studios as his act is no longer acceptable territory. Alcoholism is a medical condition, of course, and as such it isn’t something to be taken lightly. And yet, the more responsible we are, the more seriously we take ourselves and the more PC we become, the less we have to laugh about, making a comedian’s job far more difficult.

Is there some point at which losing our ability to laugh at ourselves will yield a negative return? Might evolution eventually take us to a place where humor has been transformed into something some of us will no longer be able to recognize? And those who do recognize this “new comedy” as being funny will have no idea what real comedy was? That it was something that actually caused people to laugh out loud?

Are we at a point where we all need to lighten up just a little? Even the suggestion sounds politically incorrect, so maybe we’re there.

A tv producer friend used to tell me, “There isn’t anything you can say that won’t gore somebody’s ox.” I think he may have been right and maybe we’re simply dealing with it? Perhaps evolution is carrying us all forward to a place of necessary increased sophistication with no offense taken and fewer laughs heard? I really have no idea, but I do feel sympathy for today’s comics, who are being forced to deal with whole generations who apparently feel entitled to be in a “safe place” where they are showered with love and acceptance and nothing else. Certainly no criticism, no matter how constructive. Every little snowflake is perfect unto itself.

I’m sure you’re wondering whom the actress was. Truth is, I can’t remember. After more than 40 years in the biz, these things are bound to happen.

1Bob Compton

A Crisis Of Journalism

A piece written by Eric Alterman, entitled “Altercation: Why Journalism Isn’t Really Covering The Threat Of Fascism,” published in The American Prospect, is well worth your attention. To wit-

“Two phenomena are occurring at once that make it difficult to see what’s actually happening in real time. The first is that the Republican Party has committed itself to an orthodoxy made up of bald-faced lies, racism, the encouragement of political violence, and the purposeful undermining of democracy. The second is that the ongoing existential crisis of journalism is making it impossible to report the above clearly.” -The American Prospect

Another, essential piece of Alterman’s argument, is that mainstream journalism has been, and continues to be, guilty of accepting an “unending avalanche of lies” coming from both the Republican Party and right-wing media. He points out, bringing additional clarity to the situation, how devilishly clever Roger Ailes was, when he hired a few respected journalists like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace, to front for a stable mostly filled with extremist hacks, bringing at least a modicum of credibility to an otherwise journalistically vacuous operation. And with that folks, we were off and running.

I was struck by these ideas, in that I, and others who reported on the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, were, for what may have been the very first time, forced to pay attention to, and thereby give credence to, the tabloid press. Publications like The National Enquirer, were making headlines by writing checks to sources for information nobody else was able to get, because none of us in the mainstream media would engage in “checkbook journalism.” But the Enquirer would and did, and it paid off with several major scoops that left the rest of us wondering if the world wasn’t changing on our watch. Which of course, it was. We were covering a trial wall-to-wall, because it was getting a big number while occasionally getting scooped by the tabloid press, which, prior to Simpson, none of us would have given any attention whatsoever.

Wall to wall coverage of the same story every day with the same anchors and the same guest commentators. It was the invention of punditry and the tabloids had become players with and in the mainstream. The Rubicon had been crossed.

There is obviously more to it, various cultural and professional dynamics were and still are involved, but I was there when some of this got started and I agree with the assessment that we are now in the grips of a legitimate crisis, with infotainment and “putting on a show!” to drive the ratings taking precedence over all else while the newspaper business, where most of our actual “news” comes from, dies a not-so-slow death before our very eyes.

Building a news broadcast by putting story value and content first appears to be at the very least somewhat neglected and at times even ignored, making one wonder if any of those who understand broadcast journalism’s obligation to uphold the public trust are still in the business, allowing Fascism to become acceptable and in some corners, even attractive, to a misinformed, disinformed and generally bamboozled general public.


The Dumbing Down Continues To Astound

I awoke from a nap feeling a need to grab just a bit of new information about what was happening in the world around me and made the mistake of turning on MSNBC, where I was confronted by the dumb question of the century. The host actually posed the non-question question, of whether the insurrectionists that assaulted the Capitol on January 6th, were really trying to stop the certification of the vote.

The woman hosting the “show” isn’t stupid, she’s really quite bright, so I would hope (imagine?) she had been fed the idiotic question from someone in the booth who was probably screaming nonsense into her ear. I mean, they might have been talking about the poor folks in Burma, who continue fighting to bring back their democratically elected leaders following a military coup. Six hundred of those arrested for demonstrating on behalf of democracy were just released, so it’s a good story for those who believe in freedom. But no, they weren’t talking about that.

They might also have had at least a modicum of interest in what’s happening in Germany, where a third wave of Covid is spreading across the country. It’s a variant, apparently more infectious and deadlier than the last. Is that what we’re in for here, following the massive partying of Spring breakers, whooping it up on the beaches of Florida?

“Essentially we have a “new virus,” Angela Merkel said, and a “new pandemic.”

Or they could have talked about the fact that more than half of those hospitalized with Covid in the United States, 7 out of 10, are still feeling its effects. In other words, they aren’t fully over it. They have not recovered.

A year into this mess and Covid-19 continues to present us with more questions than answers. We really aren’t sure where we are headed. Whether there will be long-term effects from the RNA vaccines. Whether one variant after another will keep popping up, requiring one new vaccine after another. We really don’t know much of anything with regard to long-term effects, as there were no animal trials prior to delivering the vaccines into human arms.

Russia developed its “Sputnik V” vaccine and began mass distribution nearly four months ago. Vladimir Putin, only just got his injection. What was he waiting for?

It’s all we’ve got, so I suppose we have to use it, but shouldn’t there at least be a discussion taking place? Something beyond the idiocy of someone wondering out-loud if the insurrectionists really wanted to stop the vote from being certified? This is NBC News? God, help us. And if he (or she) won’t, at least we’ve got Sky News and France24.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m on a waiting list for a vaccine and I fully intend to get jabbed when I can as that appears to be the best option. If Putin isn’t waiting any longer then neither am I. But that’s not what I’m railing about. My concern is with the absence of quality as opposed to quantity on American news-talk shows. Specifically, the ability to ask questions leading to conversations that actually mean something. Something that’s pertinent. Something that actually matters and is therefore interesting and will therefore enlighten as opposed to contribute to a continued dumbing down.

Without Shame

Just learned that yesterday’s Giuliani “news” conference, with hair dye (?) streaming down both sides of his face, was held at RNC headquarters in DC. Unbelievable and disgusting.

While so much of what DJT does is beyond belief, you have to wonder what his next move will be after a sufficient number of electors fail to throw the election for him? Years ago I read somewhere that the Electoral College was developed to keep the country out of the hands of a demagogue. You can be sure the founders never imagined it might be used to keep a demagogue in power. That said, who do you suppose is coming up with this stuff, as DJT clearly is not bright enough to have developed this strategy to bring down American democracy on his own.

What else do you suppose they have in mind between now and January 20th and who will defend us against it, with Republican Party leaders who failed to convict in the Senate, cowering in the shadows like whimpering idiots held hostage by DJT, threatening to bring them all down with a few keystrokes on social media?

History will clearly record the culpability of Republicans in congress for enabling a madman, keeping him in power while the threat to the Republic steadily increased, but how many will actually believe it? How many will be able to sort out the truth from bald-faced lies as we move forward into a new age of digital deceit, with growing numbers of Americans accepting any and all conspiracy nonsense thrown before them by a wave of new-age media, some of it social and without adequate constraint on the Internet and others on the far-right, masquerading as mainstream, but without shame or a sense of decency, feeling no consequence for the outcome of their actions, even if that means bringing the world’s greatest democracy to its knees.

We Need More Sam

SAM IS BACK? How refreshing to see a guest appearance by Sam Donaldson on the Chris Cuomo show on CNN last night. It was equally refreshing to hear Cuomo invite him to return on a regular basis as a guest commentator. If he accepts, his appearances will serve as learning moments for young journalists and others, interested in how news is supposed to be done. Would love to see Sam one-on-one with Donald for just five minutes. They’d have to strap Donald to a chair to prevent him from leaving the room, but I’d love to see it.

One of my favorite Sam moments is from the 80’s, when I was working for KABC in Los Angeles. I had just finished an interview with some congressman (can’t remember who) on the tarmac at LAX. As he was leaving he turned and said, “…and you tell Sam Donaldson, that he’s a son of a bitch!” It was a moment for me, and that’s how much politicians feared and hated Sam Donaldson. The comment was a badge of honor. Sam, is one of the greats.

(For you purity test snowflakes out there, I am speaking figuratively about the chair-strapping. I do not approve of holding anyone against their will for an interview.)

Follow The Pork

Did you hear Dr. Fauci today, telling a Senate hearing that it’s not a question of when we get a vaccine but “if” we can develop one at all, and then, even if we do, how effective it will or won’t be? Anybody else hear any of that? Apparently not NBC Nightly News, where they are still reporting about the rush to find what sounds like the inevitable discovery of a magic bullet that will save us all, regardless of anything Dr. Fauci, might say. Beyond that, there appears to be an absolute panic over how the drug companies will be able to deliver the millions upon millions of doses that will be needed. How to deliver the fantasy vaccine and not whether there will actually be a vaccine, is where NBC News placed the emphasis.

A little context would be nice, since nobody has yet developed a totally effective vaccine for the common seasonal flu and the truth appears to be that a vaccine that’s effective against Covid-19 might never be developed.

Anybody else remember the Hong Kong Flu in 1969, which left an estimated 100,000 Americans dead and killed an estimated one-million people worldwide? To one degree or another, it feels kinda like we’ve been here before, and not all that long ago. Shouldn’t that give us a roadmap to follow? Isn’t that kind of what the White House came up with, with its original plan to reopen America? A plan Donald Trump, has now abandoned?

Did anybody else hear Dr. Fauci’s educated and informed opinion that the current death count of about 80,000 is probably too low?

It would appear that uniformity will be a key to reopening the country without additional outbreaks of the kind that happened in New York and New Orleans. Why has Donald Trump abandoned that?

Just as the latest flu update news was settling in I learned that Smithfield Foods of Smithfield, VA, the world’s largest pork producer, is now wholly owned by the Chinese, who are shipping the processed pork to…..wait for it now….China! Meanwhile, we experience a shortage of pork products here in the U.S., where Americans get sick from Covid-19 while processing the pork.

Why are we not hearing about this on the nightly news? The Chinese own a significant link in our food supply chain, but it’s not being reported. Wonder what else they own?

I feel like I’m living (sequestered) in an alternate reality-based universe. Somebody needs to follow the pork. I admit that this may have been reported out and I just missed it, but with the country’s food supply at risk, it seems as though someone in the government should have turned this into a much bigger issue much earlier.

Maybe it took a pandemic to point out how thoroughly disjointed we’ve become. That we are at least partially owned by foreign entities and that for them it’s no longer about America for Americans, it’s about the ebb and flow of rivers of capital running through international markets with average Americans left with no choice but to depend upon Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to keep an eye on things and that for his part, Trump, has abandoned the best medical and scientific advice available.

Thank God Al Franken Is Back On The Air

Gotta get this down in writing before the devastation of the daily news-stream once again causes my brain to put up a wall to all incoming information as part of the intellectual prophylaxis that’s become a part of my new normal.

John McCain and Al Franken, were our nation’s political saving grace. One is now dead and the other was kicked to the curb. Republicans should be flogged for their rejection of McCain and their resulting dive into Fascism and Democrats, for what they did to Franken, cutting off their overly-PC collective nose to spite their overly-PC collective face.

These are things to consider, as the nation approaches 50,000 dead from the Cronavirus. A bug that might have been at least partially stopped, saving thousands of lives, had safety mechanisms put in place by the Bush and Obama Administrations been left where they were instead of being defunded by Donald J. Trump and his fascist friends with their crash and burn philosophy of non-governance. That is to say, the Bannon process, whereby you disassemble government, for, of and by the people, by defunding government, for, of and by the people, leaving the door wide open for corporate raiders and other fascist vultures to swoop in, compromising, cornering and coercing nearly everything in sight.

If you don’t want to pay taxes to support a federal or state government, then don’t complain when those same governments can doing nothing for you in a time of crisis. Which is precisely where we are.

How much of the $2.2-trillion bailout went to the very wealthy, who are in no need of a bailout, while Trump and his minions insist upon no oversight of the bailout process? According to Politico, the package contained “a $500 billion bailout fund for big businesses and a $170 billion tax break for real estate investors like the president. ”

In a very real sense, the tragedy of Covid-19 is a friend to the fascist greedheads who care only for themselves, led by a narcissist in the Oval Office who is now recommending that his medical advisors look into the possibility of injecting household disinfectant as a possible treatment for the virus while he, with his typical Roy Cohen-type diversionary nonsense, blames immigrants and Iran.

This is beyond stupid, it’s nuts. It no longer matters whether Trump actually understands what he’s doing or whether he is, as the Russians like to say, a “useful idiot.” Either way, the damage has been done. Anybody who isn’t awake enough to understand this yet has got to be in an intellectual coma. Why is anybody out there still supporting this Republican Party? Is it because their only news source is a single cable channel serving as Donald Trump’s private pipeline of belligerent blather? Or is it because the party is represented almost entirely by white men? Is that it? Fear born from racism with a healthy dose of sexism? What else can it be? These Republicans have given up on nearly every conservative economic principle ever conceived, so it can’t be that.

Kudos, to MSNBC, for bringing Al Franken back as a guest commentator. Intellectually vibrant free-thinkers like Franken, are part of the solution as we approach 50,000 deaths.

Currently, there are 49,963 and counting, adding to what will surely be the legacy of Donald J. Trump. The idiot man-child who slipped through an electoral college which failed the nation miserably, to support our enemies, betray our allies and generally just muck things up.

An Orwellian Chill

I haven’t written anything in a while. The situation with the Trump Administration had become so repetitive, so obvious, so pathetic, so malignant, that I had determined the best course of action would be to stop writing and simply wait it out until November, hoping enough Americans would be awake and informed to the point of saving the country with a Democratic sweep. Today, that changed, with something that sent chills through the very core of my being.

It wasn’t Trump’s needless idiotic attack, sending in a drone to blast an Iranian general in a car at a civilian airport without a declaration of war, or Iran’s measured response to the idiotic attack, getting their country off the hook without starting a world war while Donald Trump appeared determined to do all he could to get a new war going. No, it was neither of those things. It’s the way those events are now being reported.

They are not reporting the Iranian general was assassinated or even killed, which is what happened. I turned on both CNN and MSNBC this morning to hear that the general had in fact been “taken out.” That’s what they’re now saying, “taken out,” much like any of us would take out the trash. Except in this case, they took out human beings.

What’s happening here is pure “Newspeak,” right out of Orwell’s “1984.” Alleged newswriters are using words to make the fact that our military, under orders from Donald Trump, blew a couple of human beings to bits just outside a civilian airport more palatable. They are using less descriptive phraseology to remove the sharp edge from sanctioned murder. In doing so, they are falling into the Orwellian trap of controlling language to limit freedom of thought. In doing so, they are inadvertently doing P-R for the Trump Administration.

If assassination is too harsh, then they could simply say the general was killed in a drone attack. That’s what happened and it avoids the slippery slope of getting into Newspeak with language that would be more fitting for De Niro in a mob movie.

This isn’t a movie, it’s reality. A journalist’s job is to find out what the hell is really going on and then report that out with as much objectivity and clarity as possible. Engaging in Newspeak, is an arrow to the very heart of that credo, threatening our existence as a free people by limiting our freedom of thought.

I won’t get into giving people what they need as opposed to what they want. That train left the station so many years ago that there is probably no calling it back. That said, this flirtation with Newspeak is something different. Something far more subtle and potentially far more dangerous. An infection that arrives in the night and spreads ever so slowly through our consciousness, unrecognizable, even while it robs us of our ability to identify the true nature of current events.


Unfiltered Information Could Be Our Undoing

Donald J. Trump has 65.2-million followers on Twitter. So, whatever idea might pop into his head, no matter how crazed, he can immediately blast it out to all 65.2-million of his minions. That, is political power. It is also frightening, because it is totally unfiltered.

Not long ago, in a time before cellphones, there were the newspapers and three major over-the-air broadcasting networks controlling most of the flow of information in America. For the most part, they had professional news organizations staffed with journalists who took their craft seriously, taking care to uphold the public trust with a standard for quality journalism, while serving as a filter for their readers, listeners and viewers, ensuring a degree of accuracy and truthfulness in what Americans read and heard. The worst thing these journalists could do, and they knew it, would be to betray the public trust and lose their credibility. And so, they took their work seriously.

Consequently, when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told America that the Vietnam War had us mired in a stalemate, that the war was unwinnable and that a negotiated settlement was needed, the nation listened. Polls indicated Cronkite to be the most trusted man in America. There were calls for him to run for public office. Journalists were held in high esteem.

There were lapses of course, like “Yellow Journalism” during Hearst’s battle with Joe Pulitzer, but for the most part it worked pretty well. For the most part, America was protected by her journalistic filter. Then came cable, satellite news and the internet, and all bets were off.

And now here we are, with no filter to protect us and a highly questionable personality in the Oval Office with his finger not just on the nuclear trigger but on his massive Twitter feed as well. I’m not sure which might turn out to be more threatening to the country, or what we should do about it going forward. Clearly, what technology has given us may be more than our Democratic Constitutional Republic can handle. In a very real sense, it may be a clear and present danger.