Posts Tagged ‘New york Times’

What’s Plan B? Well, There is a VP

Friday, July 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why do we  elect vice presidents?

     That’s not a rhetorical question. In fact, it’s the answer to a question many Democrats have been asking themselves for more than a week.

      In a virtual meltdown since Joe Biden’s shutdown performance in his first debate with Donald Trump, and under a constant New York Times-led media barrage about Biden‘s age and his capability to handle the job of president, many wealthy Democratic Party supporters and plenty of everyday Democrats have been asking, “What is Plan B?”

     As in, “If we don’t think Joe can win, who should the party’s candidate be? Quick!”

     Funny thing is, all the names quickly mentioned as possible presidential candidates quickly said they’re still backing Biden. Now, that may be because it would be unseemly to challenge the leader of the party or simply because none of them wants to face Trump now when they might have an easier race four years from now.

    The other funny thing is, even though presidents run with vice presidential candidates, who, theoretically at least, can step in immediately and take over the duties of president if necessary, whether because of incapacitation or resignation, hardly anyone mentioned Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential substitute for Biden.

       But isn’t that her job?

       This is in no way an argument for Biden to decline to run again “for the good of the party and the country” or for him to dramatically resign the office of president. I have no way of knowing, any more than do any of those big media pundits, whether Biden is capable of fulfilling the duties of president while also conducting an aggressive reelection campaign against Trump and his Republican cult followers. If Biden’s running, he’s got my vote.

       All I am saying is that if he feels he is not up to it, his vice president would seem to be the person most qualified and capable of doing so. Harris has been with Biden through all the successes of nearly four years in office, been part of the planning and prodding and preaching necessary to get things done. She has dealt with leaders on the world stage. If people like what the Biden White House has done, well, then Harris has been part and parcel of all that.

    Plus, she is Donald Trump‘s greatest nemesis: An educated, articulate, outspoken, politically astute black woman. She has been district attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of the state of California and served as a United States senator from California. She knows how government works. She can take on the issue of abortion head-on. She can talk frankly about voter suppression tactics. In fact, she can talk about any issue Trump or Republicans throw out there with more clarity and knowledge than can Trump.

       In fact, so can Biden. But if by Plan B Democrats want someone to more aggressively get up in Trump’s face, call out his constant lies, which much of the media now seems to accept as, well, acceptable, then Kamala Harris is their woman.

     Plus, you’d have the whole first woman president angle going again, the one stolen from Hillary. And if Biden did take the dramatic step of resigning (which he has given no indication of doing, nor am I suggesting), she would have access to the Biden campaign’s considerable funds.

        All of this, of course, would be dependent on Democrats doing something they always have trouble doing — getting behind one candidate and sticking to the script.

       Republicans have mastered the art of uniting behind even the most despicable of candidates imaginable, with Trump the felon exhibit A. They are a political party without a soul. Democrats, however, usually spend an inordinate amount of time challenging each other over who is the most noble of candidates. It often produces confusion, not votes.

       Joe Biden has been a good president. He has served this country well his entire adult life and grown old in the process. Few are granted the opportunity. In an election which is in sum a contest between democracy and despotism, he is the symbol of what our forefathers had in mind when they said farewell to the king.

       When the script hit the fan, their Plan B was to have a vice president.      

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

The Real News Scores a Win

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

    Score one for the good guys.

   In a time when (1.) “fake news” is thrown around routinely as a way to delegitimize real reporting by real journalists while (2.) social media is awash in actually fake news produced by fake journalists and (3.) the airwaves are polluted by well-funded “media” outlets pushing outright lies, all to support the propaganda machine of the Trump Republican Party, The Washington Post recently provided a lesson in what has historically been considered basic journalism ethics in America.

  Actually, The Post staff with major help from The New York Times gave Post management a lesson in basic American journalism.

    In brief, they forced the ordained new editor of  The Post to change his mind about taking the job because, well, it’s always more pleasant to work with people who like you and who share your principles and ethics. Or, in this case, lack thereof.

     Robert Winnett, the Post editor-to-be, announced that he’s decided to stay in England, where his brand of “journalism” is accepted and (by some) even admired, rather than come to The Post, whose staff was in revolt over his selection.

     That’s because Winnett was involved in a scandal that engulfed British newspapers years ago in which stories based on hacked or stolen phone and business records or records purchased from a data information company were published to embarrass prominent politicians and celebrities. Lawsuits followed.

      Those practices are frowned upon by legitimate American news organizations and have been for a long time. Winnett denied taking part in those activities, but both The Post and The Times published articles quoting individuals involved in those sensationalized stories saying Winnett was in it.

      Indeed. So was his almost new boss, Post CEO and publisher Will Lewis, who was, in fact, Winnett’s actual boss at The Sunday Times, a Rupert Murdoch newspaper across the pond. Lewis was reported to have assigned Winnett to do one of those hit jobs.

    Still, Lewis did manage to get hired as the top dog in Washington. Apparently, The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, didn’t notice or didn’t care that the British style of “journalism,” as practiced most outrageously in America by Murdoch-owned Fox News on TV and to a lesser extent The New York Post, wasn’t acceptable for major American media, especially those with a reputation for fairness and ethical practices, like The Washington Post.

     Bezos, who turned Amazon into a mega profit machine, is understandably concerned that The Post is losing money. Maybe he never considered all the advertisers that newspapers lost when businesses flocked to the Internet to companies like Amazon to promote their products.

   In any event, Bezos wants The Post to establish a third news-gathering wing, presumably centered on the Internet. Lewis wanted Sally Buzbee, the Post’s former top editor, to take over that new job, but she properly took it as a demotion and resigned. The Times and Post stories story on Winnett followed. Hence, the search for a new editor. (A new publisher wouldn’t be bad either.)

     Back in London, Chris Evans, top editor at The Daily Telegraph, Winnett’s current newspaper, sent a message to his staff saying, “I am pleased to report that Rob Winnett has decided to stay with us. As you all know, he’s a talented chap, and their loss is our gain.” 

     Well, chaps of a feather do stick together.

     In any case, the hope here is that Lewis and Bezos and others at The Post who maybe were thinking of taking part in some form of UK “hit job“ journalism get the message: The First Amendment protection afforded the press in this country in the Constitution is not a license to lie, cheat, steal or in any other unethical way ruin people’s lives for the sake of selling more newspapers or getting more clicks on social media.

    Not yet at least.

(Editor’s note: The author worked for more than 40 years at three daily newspapers, all of which followed the basic ethical principles of American journalism. Two of them — The Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton and The Times Herald-Record in Middletown — were tabloids in size, but not in the practice of journalistic sensationalism. The Evening Capital in Annapolis, a standard broadsheet, was no less rigorous about ethical practices.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com












Just Another Day in America

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

78BD258A-80FB-4BFD-BC7B-E0E8E239379D    A quick snapshot of a recent day in America:

    A former president of the United States was on trial in a New York City courtroom in a story that could’ve been written by the National Enquirer. Well, actually, it was supposed to be, but then the Enquirer killed the story and that’s all part of what the trial is about.

    Donald Trump, the defendant, brooded, slept, glared, argued with his lawyers and pretty much showed he didn’t want to be where he was, sitting at the accused’s table in court. The judge kept warning him not to misbehave, but somehow still resisted locking Trump’s butt up for being a constant threat to the community with his comments on social media and elsewhere, an action that would prove to the rest of us that the law is truly applied equally to everyone. No matter. That day has to come.

   And despite Trump’s call to arms that “all hell will break loose” on Monday when his trial started, the only menacing site outside the courthouse was a group of college Young Republicans trying to figure out what the heck they were doing there. Not very menacing.

    Anyway, the trial is all about hush money paid to porn stars to keep them from going public with their stories, and hurting Trump’s chances of being elected president in 2016. Mostly, a lot of lying about what money was used for what purpose and one of the key witnesses against Trump is his old lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a term in the federal prison just down the road from me for lying about all that money a few years ago.

   Anyway, it’s sleazy and salacious and I’m embarrassed as an American that this man once sat in the Oval Office and apparently a lot of Americans still think he should be given another shot at the job he totally botched. They keep showing up in these polls that are supposedly fair and scientific, but for which I have never been contacted in my entire life.

    Oh yeah, he’s the first American president ever to face criminal charges after leaving office. Well, that’s something he can lay claim to without having to lie about it.

     On the same day, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned some player I never heard of from ever playing in the league for committing “a cardinal sin” of betting on the league’s games and sharing information on his own play, removing himself from games pretending to be injured, and controlling betting on his own play. The player actually played in Toronto, which is not in America, but the rest of the league is.

    Sports betting may yet be the downfall of the major sports leagues, but there seems to be no limit to it. The Los Angeles Dodgers only recently escaped major disaster as star Shohei Ohtani‘s former translator took the fall for stealing money from the ball player to cover millions of dollars in gambling losses. No baseball. The FBI says Ohtani didn’t know about it. Well, OK. Perhaps he’s taking English lessons now.

    On this particular day, I looked to see what the great grey lady, the New York Times, had to say about the Trump trial. Its editorial went into great detail, carefully explaining all the nuances of the justice system and why everything was being done the way it was being done, etc. It was not until the end of what the paper itself described as “a seven -minute read,” that the editorial referred to Trump’s “disregard for the rule of law and his willingness to demean American justice when it suits his interests.”

   It continued, “Those actions render him manifestly unfit for office and would pose unique dangers to the United States during a second term. The greatest of those dangers, and the one that Americans should be most attuned to, is the damage that a second Trump presidency would inflict on the rule of law.”

      Well, no you-know-what Sherlock. Did no one at the Times ever explain to the editorial writer that “don’t bury the lead“ applies to editorials as well as news stories. Seven minutes to tell people don’t ever put this lunatic in office again? He’s too dangerous?! “Manifestly unfit!”

    Give me a break! Tell them at the top, tell them why and tell them again at the bottom. Tell them every damn day while you’ve still got a press! Geez, people, this is no time to be gentle.

      A friend of mine recently asked how I felt about the direction this country was heading. Well, the first four presidents of my lifetime were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

    Maybe it was a trick question.


rjgaydos@gmal.com

All the News … If You Can Find It

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

By BOB GAYDOS

The big news of the day. RJ Photography

The big news of the day.
RJ Photography

   It’s definitely time to connect the dots. When (1.) your Sunday New York Times, which you still get delivered to home, comes with a touching note from the delivery person thanking his customers for 12 years of “kindness and generosity” and announcing that, as of March 17, home delivery of the local morning paper, The Times Herald-Record, will cease and that the delivery person learned of the contract termination in the much slimmed-down version of the paper itself {which you no longer get delivered}, well, you kind of pause and wonder what those 29 years of your life were all about, (2.) decide to write more about that in a future column and (3) go looking in still-functioning news sources for some positive news, such as (4) Mitch McConnell, the two-faced weasel from Kentucky announcing that he will step down as Republican leader in the Senate in November after 18 years in which his primary motivation was to use his power to thwart any Democratic president or program and pack the Supreme Court with rightwing stooges to do the bidding of wealthy Republican backers, McConnell’s relinquishing of power also being (5) likely to result in a Donald Trump boot-licker ascending to the Republican leadership in the Senate and, one hopes, further hastening the death of the party as a vehicle for responsible governing, something which (6) the aforementioned Great Gray Lady of New York refuses to use its reputation and power to accomplish, preferring instead (7.) to feature stories on polls declaring that American voters are worried that Joe Biden, who has more hands-on experience in how to properly govern than any previous president and has rescued the country from the ethical and economic morass that Donald Trump left behind, is too old for the job, at 81, because he confused a couple of names while running the country, handling delicate foreign policy and dealing with a Republican Party that refuses to do its job, (8.) because it’s being led by a 77-year-old man who repeatedly confuses who the actual president is, confuses Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi, warns about a possible World War II, encourages Vladimir Putin to attack our NATO allies, insists he is immune from prosecution for (not innocent of) any crime he committed as president, claims to be a billionaire but can’t post $500,000 bond in New York to appeal a court ruling that his business there was a massive fraud, faces 91 felony counts, incited an insurrection, raped a woman in a New York City department store, hasn’t the foggiest idea or interest in learning how government is supposed to serve the people, says he will get rid of his enemies on Day One of a new Trump term and whose former staffers say is not only unfit for the office of president, but is also deteriorating mentally, which (9.) many Americans seem to have no problem with and, The Times tells us, can’t seem to even remember what the Trump four years were really like, possibly because the newspaper is too busy trying to be all things to all readers (“The best way to clear ear wax” arrived in today’s issue) to (10.) remind us daily, like a newspaper fighting to protect its First Amendment protection from forces out to abolish it, of Trump’s lying and vindictiveness and ignorance or to explain that sitting presidents typically have low favorability ratings in polls early in a reelection year because they are actually doing the job and the poll, assuming first of all that it’s accurate, may reflect the current situation, but does not predict the future, (11.) which, the way things are going, may not include home delivery of The New York Times. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Snoop Dogg, Ghee and Me!

Friday, January 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Ghee.

Ghee.

  Stick with me here. I’m not sure where I’m going, but I hope it’ll be worth the trip when we get there.

    I typically start my day (assuming the stars are aligned and the usual very considerate dog-feeder has fed the dogs) by tackling a New York Times word game called Spelling Bee. You get points based on how many words you can make from seven letters. It’s one of several word games I play each day so that, among other things, I can continue to write columns that I hope readers find (a) informative, (b) provocative, (c ) entertaining or (d) all of the above. The people who know about keeping brains vital recommend such games. And I enjoy them.

   So, this particular morning I advance to the point in the game where I am “amazing,” but one point short of “Genius.” I hate when that happens because it means all the obvious and most of the non-obvious words have been found, leaving words no one ever heard of and the odds of picking up a single point is slim.

    Finally, after going away and coming back several times, I see it. The word that will give me one point: Ghee.

   Yes! Genius once again and, gee, isn’t it interesting that I got there on a word I didn’t even know a few years ago. 

   For those who aren’t familiar with the word, ghee is a form of highly-clarified butter that is traditionally used in Indian cooking. Like butter, ghee is typically made from cow’s milk. It is made by melting regular butter, which separates into liquid fats and milk solids. The solids are removed, leaving a liquid with less lactose. Ghee is thus considered to be vegetarian because there is no animal product in it, but not vegan, because it is derived from animal product. (See, we’re already learning something.)

   Since I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, the technicalities don’t bother me. I became acquainted with ghee several years ago by adopting a diet with less meat and more plants. A quick scan of the internet on its health benefits or risks quickly pointed out the problem of our unfettered information glut, with ghee being declared either good or bad for weight loss, digestion, cholesterol or the heart. There was even a report the FDA had banned it, which should be a surprise to the thousands of Indian restaurants in this country, as well as the USDA, which regulates ghee and other products derived from cows. Consult your doctor on this, please.

     For me, ghee has been no issue and we only have it when we treat ourselves to a meal at a wonderful nearby vegetarian restaurant, The Red Dot, in Wurtsboro, N.Y, which is the entrance to the Catskills region if you’re planning a trip.

   If instead you’re planning a trip to Paris this year, be aware that the Summer Olympics will be in town and by “in town” the Parisians mean it literally, with urban games at Le Place de la Concorde, beach volleyball at the Eiffel Tower and Equestrians at the Palace of Versailles.

   I know all this only because when I got my genius score on Queen Bee, I put up water for tea, doled out a truckload of vitamins and then checked my Facebook feed, which promptly informed me that Snoop Dogg was going to be a special commentator for NBC on this year‘s Olympics in Paris.

    Oh. I thought. Why? I further thought.

     It seems Mr. Dogg, or Snoop to his friends, was such a hit four years ago with his colorful, occasionally profane, comments on the dressage competition at the Tokyo Olympics, NBC figured the rapper/business mogul would be a good bet to raise ratings for this year’s event.  

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

   For the record, the 2020 Olympics recorded the lowest average primetime viewership for the network since it began presenting the Olympics in 1988. In fact, viewership fell by 42 percent from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

   But we’re now in the world of streaming and watching anything, anywhere, anytime. If he was so popular on NBC’s streaming coverage on Peacock in 2020, NBC figured, why not bring on the Dogg and his irreverence, if not expertise, to the whole network? It’s entertainment, isn’t it?

    Yes, and the size and, now, diversity of the audience also sets the price of the advertising, doesn’t it? 

    Snoop will apparently be free to roam around Paris and all the Olympic venues and “add his unique perspective to our re-imagined Olympic primetime show,” according to Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production.

    Gee.

    Before I turned to tea and breakfast on this particular morning, one last look at Facebook informed me that the National Football League had fined Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper $300,000 for throwing a drink toward Jacksonville Jaguars fans from his luxury box. Classy.

 The Panthers were in the midst of losing to the hometown Jaguars, 26-0, leaving Tepper’s team with the worst record in the NFL. In fact, the team hasn’t had a winning record since Tepper bought it five years ago after a sex scandal under the previous owner.

   Tepper accepted the fine and expressed “regret” for the incident, but didn’t apologize. Apparently, he’s still feeling a bit agitated. Panthers fans can identify.

    Well, thanks to Queen Bee, the Internet and Red Dot, I have a suggestion for Mr. Tepper: Clarified butter. Ghee. More of it.

    Ghee is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, which is rooted in Hinduism. The philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine contends that the body, mind and soul are connected to the outer world and when the relationship among these elements is out of balance, health problems arise. 

    Ghee is often suggested to improve gut health and they say a healthy gut is a healthy body. It helps in cleansing the body of harmful stuff. In fact, it is regarded by some as one of the most sattvic foods. In Hinduism, sattva (a Sanskrit word) is having a serene, harmonious state of mind.  

    Some believers say that regular consumption of ghee leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety levels.

    It can’t play quarterback, Mr. Tepper, but ghee whiz, at least it’s more sattvic than listening to Snoop Dogg commenting on Olympic equestrian events in Paris.

       I told you we’d get there.

(PS: I have attained Queen Bee status just one time in more than a year of playing the game.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com



     




Coin Flips, No-Meat Burgers, Big Bang

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022
Buffalo quarterback, Josh Allen, never got a shot in OT.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, never got a shot in OT.


By Bob Gaydos

      I don’t care about the polls. I think Joe Biden is a decent man doing a better than decent job having inherited a decidedly indecent situation. Joe Manchin is another story. Meanwhile, the world turns …

  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I agree with every football fan in America that the NFL overtime rules have to be changed. The fact that the Buffalo Bills lost their divisional playoff game to the Kansas City Chiefs because their quarterback, Josh Allen, said “Tails” instead of “Heads,” is beyond unfair. It is ridiculous. At a minimum, each team should get a chance with the ball in overtime. After the incredibly exciting finish to the game, with each team scoring at will in the final minutes, the final result was a letdown. The quarterbacks, Allen and Patrick Mahomes, were great, the defensive backs exhausted, but if Allen had said “Heads,” I’m certain Buffalo would have won. Forget sudden death, play a full overtime period.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: McDonald’s messed up big time in naming its new, still-on-trial plant-based burger. The fast-food company has been slow to adapt to the plant-based food movement, which is not surprising given its failure to properly prepare and promote other more healthful choices in the past, including salads and yogurt. The new burger, made with patties from Beyond Meat, will be tried out in 600 McDonald’s locations. It’s called, ta-da, the McPlant. Can you say, “McNo?” Burger King got it right with its plant-based burger launched a couple of years ago. It named the Impossible Brand patty the Impossible Whopper.  Now that’s a name to reckon with. Good burger, too. It’s now introducing Impossible Nuggets. So, while there’s still time, McDonald’s, man up. Let’s see the Beyond Big Mac! Forget the ego, You might sell some burgers.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: Is anyone surprised that Sarah Palin’s court date with the New York Times had to be postponed because she tested positive for COVID? You wait years to accuse them of libel face-to-face in court, then you can’t be prepared on the day because, well, who needs masks, vaccines, etc.? She was a governor and ran for vice president, remember? Oh right, she’s a Republican.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I still can’t get over the mission of the James Webb Space Telescope, never mind the fact that, after 30 days of travel, it’s now ready to deliver on it. The most powerful telescope ever built, the Webb is now parked a million miles away from Earth, but more than that, a million miles and untold years in the past. The giant telescope is programmed to explore the past, to record the beginning of our universe, exploring whatever planets, etc. it finds in the next 20 years or so and report back to NASA. No wisecracks here. Just good luck, James Webb, and say hello to Mr. Musk.

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

The Perils of Covering Chaos 24/7

Saturday, August 15th, 2020
Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party's presidential ticket in 1984. She ran for veep.

Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in 1984. She ran for veep, making history, as Maureen Dowd recalls.

By Bob Gaydos

     It gives me no joy to say “I told you so.” Maybe a bit of personal satisfaction, but I’ll deal with that. 

From time to time, in this era of constant chaos known as the Trump Administration, I have lamented that it is virtually impossible for those who comment on the news of the day to write about anything but the Drumpster. The fact that he lies constantly, is monumentally inept and psychologically unfit for the Oval Office only adds to the need for constant — daily — attention. It is exhausting and, ultimately, depressing. And this, I have said, could eventually scramble the brains even of veteran journalists who still do it fulltime for a living.

      Cases in point, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks. One on the left, one on the right. On a recent Sunday, the New York Times played it right down the middle.

     On Aug. 9, I decided to peruse the Views section, once my automatic go to, but for some time now a repository of more of you know what about you know who. The psyche needs a rest. Having had one, I skipped to Dowd in the back, leaving Brooks’ rare front-page splash for later.

       Dowd has been nothing if not devoted to telling us how awful and dumb Drumpf is. She does it well. I enjoy her writing. But on this Sunday she had to write about Democrats and that part of her brain apparently was fried from all the juice emanating from the Republican side.

       She was writing about Joe Biden’s much-anticipated selection of a female vice presidential running mate. She was also waxing nostalgic of her days covering Walter Mondale’s selection of Newburgh native Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate in 1984. She was the first woman to run as a vice presidential candidate on any major party ticket. Dowd recalled that that “fairy tale“ had a “sad ending.“ They lost.

     But then Dowd wrote: “It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. To use Geraldine Ferraro‘s favorite expression, ‘Give me a break!’ “

     I’ll cue in the Jeopardy final question music. Do do do do do do do, do do do do do do do…

     I’ll take it, Alex. Who were Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in 2016?

      Correct, Bob! Hillary Clinton chose Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate in July 2016. And that was the last time a man and a woman ran together on the Democratic Party ticket.

       How soon we forget. Dowd was so focused on the number two pick, she forgot all about Clinton clobbering Trump by several million votes and still losing the presidency a mere four years ago. Dowd wrote about all the biases Ferraro faced as the first female vice presidential candidate and projected that Biden‘s choice would have to be prepared to be portrayed as too bossy, too bitchy, too aggressive, too ambitious, etc.

    Of course, those are all things that were said about Clinton a mere four years ago when she ran, not for vice president, but for president. Real history. She won and she had it stolen from her as I recall.

     Kamala Harris, Biden’s eventual VP pick, will probably be able to handle all those attacks, in part because she’s highly competent, but also because Clinton already handled them, as I said, four years ago. Maybe Dowd can make it up to Hillary in a future column, but I submit that that’s what covering Drumpf 24/7 can do to you

     As for the conservative Brooks, he chose to take on the question of “Where Do Republicans Go From Here?” He’s not sure other than that, however many smart conservatives work on renovating it, Trump’s impact on the party will last for decades. And he puts the party’s future in the hands of four Republican senators in their 40s: Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse.

      Sheesh. All four are supposedly more enlightened populists who don’t always see government as the enemy and feel more must be done to help America’s working class. Rubio and Sasse occasionally try to sound like they disagree with some administration policy that harms regular people, Hawley is hawkish against corporate elites and Cotton is, at heart, a bomb thrower. They all voted not to convict Trump at his impeachment trial and none has shown the courage to consistently speak out directly to contradict the administration. Not much leadership in evidence.

      Brooks, who’s supporting Biden, writes, “The Republican Party looks completely brain-dead at every spot Trump directly touches.” I agree with him on this. And so, how are these four young stalwarts going to reshape their party so that it survives as a major political force? Stick with the working-class philosophy, but without the racism, Brooks suggests. Aha! Therein may lie the rub. How does the GOP unbecome the party of white, racist middle-Americans who hate “coastal elites”?

     Brooks takes us through many inches of well-thought-out rationales and says others are also working on the “brain-dead” issue. But Rubio, Hawley, Cotton and Sasse? They’re “inching” their way to a new GOP, Brook writes, finally ending with: “What are the odds they’ll succeed? They’ve got to be way under 50-50.”

    Swell. That’s what used to be known as burying the lead, David. After all this, you’re saying the best hope for a new GOP lies in the hands of four senators with little hope of shaking off the stench of Trumpism? Please. Give it a rest.

      Anyway, I get it. The point here is purely personal. As I said, it’s crazy-making having to write about Trump every day, like living with an alcoholic. I appreciate the efforts from both of you, but why not forget about you-know-who for a while? Take a week off. Maybe write about the plant-based food craze instead. I myself am a fan of the Impossible Whopper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

 

A False Argument on ‘False Balance’

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

donald_trump_king_of_the_birthersHallelujah! Praise the lord and pass the ammunition! The cavalry has arrived. Less than a week after its public editor offered a bass-ackwards interpretation of the “false balance” issue (“Here’s the Truth About ‘False Balance,’’’ Sept. 11), The New York Times ran an article at the top of its front page that perfectly demonstrated the proper way to avoid false balance in covering a political campaign: Tell the actual truth.

Saturday’s (Sept. 17) Times led with a story headlined: “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.’’ It carried a subhead: “No Apology After 5 Years of Nurturing ‘Birther’ Issue to Undermine Obama.” What followed was a carefully detailed accounting of Donald Trump’s “birther” lie, which was nothing more than a racially coded effort to delegitimize the nation’s first black president.

The piece, by Michael Barbaro, was actually a news analysis and was labeled as such, but the Times still led the paper with it, rather than the straightforward (presumably unbiased) story reporting on the big announcement by Trump. That’s because Barbaro’s piece put the whole sordid truth out there, in perspective, for readers to digest. There was no worry about whether the story was “too liberal’ (another worry of the new public editor) or too harsh. It was true. Every bit of it. What Trump said and continues to say (he claims Hillary Clinton started the birther rumors) is not.

The news analysis was, in effect, a front-page editorial leading the paper. The Times also ran an editorial inside the paper that echoed the truth that Trump has lied repeatedly about this and other issues. In my humble opinion, this is called good, aggressive, community-minded journalism that holds public figures accountable for their words and actions without worrying whether it will offend the public figure and/or his supporters. It belongs on the front page, especially when the liar wants to be president and lots of people want to believe his lies.

The public editor, Liz Spayd, might call this approach “preaching to the choir.” She’s apparently also concerned that a lot of people consider The Times to be “liberal.’’ Gambling? Here? I’m shocked, shocked!

She wrote a piece headlined “Why Readers See The Times as Liberal” (July 24), as if that’s a bad thing and as if it’s a new thing. In that article she suggested keeping editorials off the front page after a lot of people who said they were conservative objected to a front-page editorial on gun control. So the newspaper, which has argued unabashedly for gun control for decades, should timidly limit its views to the opinion page because they might offend some people whose political views probably revolve around guns and not much else, because those people might not read the paper if they think its reporting is skewed to the left.

News flash: They probably don’t read the paper anyway because: 1) It’s always been fashionable to bash the most-prestigious paper in the world, especially when its editorial views — not necessarily its reporting — don’t reflect yours; and 2) it costs too much.

In Spayd’s view, Times reporters must resist the arguments about false balance — in this case, giving political candidates’ statements, opinions and actions equal treatment (“fair” treatment) in reporting and writing, even though the truth argues otherwise — because, in their distaste for Trump the reporters might be tempted to go easy on Clinton.

Go ahead, finish laughing.

The Times, like the rest of the media, has been beating up on Clinton for years, searching for scandal and coming up short. This obviously can be frustrating when the editors and reporters also know she pretty much despises most of them, doesn’t hide it and, as a result, brings much of the negative reporting on herself.

But … if it’s only Clinton supporters now who are complaining about “false balance” in Times reporting on the campaign, that’s because virtually the entire mainstream media was guilty of this for months by treating Trump as a qualified candidate for president because the Republican Party didn’t know how to stop him. It’s also because much of The Times’ reporting on Clinton — presumably tough-minded and fair– has also been shoddy, not nearly up to the paper’s reputation. If you’re going to be fair on holding candidates’ feet to the fire, be accurate. If anything, that is what has built the newspaper’s reputation.

Besides, the Clinton supporters had no gripe with The Times during the primary campaign when Sen. Bernie Sanders was often an asterisk in the paper’s coverage of the Clinton coronation as Democratic Party nominee.

In her closing argument on “false balance,” Spayd writes, “Fear of false balance is a creeping threat to the role of the media because it encourages journalists to pull back from their responsibility to hold power accountable. All power, not just selected individuals, however vile they might seem.”

That’s a perfect example of false balance. Reporters, in other words, should not hold back on trying to find something bad to write about Hillary Clinton (again, an absurd premise to start with) just because Donald Trump has proven himself over and over to be (not “seem”) vile, deceitful, bigoted, narcissistic, misogynistic, uninformed, racist, unpredictable, volatile, immature.

And dangerous.

After his major announcement that he had been lying about President Obama’s citizenship for years, Trump said to an audience in Miami that Clinton wants to “destroy your Second Amendment.’’ As a response to that, he suggested: “She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. … Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.”

The audience, as always at Trump rallies, applauded this threat.

Go ahead, by all means, New York Times, be “fair and balanced” and don’t stop investigating the Clinton Foundation. But also, do continue to ignore your public editor and keep telling the truth about this vile man on the front page every day. Other media follow your lead. The chorus may be convinced, but others may be ready to join.

If your public editor regards that as “taking sides,” so be it. This is not a high school debate; this is about the future of our country. A major responsibility of newspapers is to inform, educate and help mold public opinion. Unlike some other media (Fox News), The Times does this without lying. At least that’s the reputation. Live up to it.

(Full disclosure: The author was editorial page editor of the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Fit to Print?

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

Certain decisions by people with loads of money and monumental pretensions cry out for comment. The same goes for decisions by news editors.

In the Styles section of The Sunday Times just past, we were offered a story about the wedding of a couple in Santa Barbara. He is 30. She is 29 and comes from a rich family; her father was executive producer and co-creator of some popular TV shows.

The reporter gave us 29 breathless and fairly vacuous paragraphs about how the happy couple met (through friends out for a drink), and how the woman found the man acceptable even though he wore a fanny pack (“I knew when his fanny pack didn’t bother me that this was the real thing”), and the fact that she is stylish and he once had worked on the Harvard Lampoon, and that their feelings for each other got warmer during his absence on a previously planned vacation.

Packed into those 29 paragraphs were 1,586 words of which 27 were: “It is not guaranteed but if a stylish woman forgives her date for wearing a fanny pack, all that follows can be pretty much considered a breeze.” This wedding story contained about double the number of words in a typical column by the great Maureen Dowd one of whose recent pieces contained 889 words of which 37 were: “Standing a few feet away from Jerry Sandusky, as he laughed and reminisced with friends in the front row of the courtroom, made me want to take a shower. Just not in the Penn State locker room.”

One of the two pictures accompanying the wedding story showed the newlyweds playing skeeball on two alleys, a little something the bride’s parents had installed when they redesigned their barn so it could be used for what Dad called “the cocktail part of the party.” They also moved a half-acre of earth to create a hill. They felt they needed a hill so the guests would have, in the reporter’s words, “stunning water views during the ceremony.”

The story reported that the bride had consulted “the family psychic” about whether the man was right for her and that the soothsayer’s response was “You know that you know that he’s the one,” which sounds suspiciously non-committal on the seer’s part.

The story took up two-thirds of the page. I know about story placement. I know that a wedding story, unless it’s William and Kate, doesn’t go on Page 1 and that a story about children dying violently doesn’t go in Styles. Some news that got short shrift on the day of the story of the wedding with the ocean view demand attention because their treatment made The Times look foolish.

–That same Sunday edition contained a 466-word story about two Lebanese people killed by shells fired from Syrian territory. One of the victims was a boy in the village of al-Hisheh. He was 8. His father and four siblings were injured. A woman was killed when a shell landed in her home.

–Officials in Myanmar freed 20 people whom they’d seized en route to a major demonstration with political overtones. This was told in 328 words.

–In New York, the police reported that six people had been slain in the last few days. In one case, a woman bludgeoned her son to death. He was 9. A man was shot to death in Bay Ridge with a bullet in his neck. He was 65. The other four dead were in the Bronx and Queens. The Times gave it 632 words.

That’s three life-and-death stories, not one of which involved building a hill so wedding guests could see the water.

page@zestoforange.com