Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dimming Of The Day

New Orleans Window by Lee Friedlander.

Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.

I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.

The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.

Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side,  let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.

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10 Ways to Cover a Trump Rally

In today’s installment of “mild criticism on Twitter necessitates a nuclear hissyfit,” Beltway journalists act like being asked to not air Trump’s unhinged racist ranting live is tantamount to telling them to all quit their jobs and make butter in the country:

(They should all quit their jobs and go make butter. Butter is useful and has hurt nobody. Then we can give their jobs to people who aren’t so easily butthurt and don’t throw whiny hissies on Twitter.)

Since America’s Most Important Journalists have apparently run out of ways to cover something, other than pointing a camera directly at a podium and listening in respectful silence in real time, I have some suggestions.

Ten of them, in fact.

Ten ways to “cover” a Trump rally that don’t involve repeating word-for-word what the president said or airing it live uncritically. These are in no particular order, though the first one is something I’ve suggested in good faith to journo friends/students.


Here we go:

  1. Stick around after the event is over. Interview the cleanup staff. What did they (likely low-wage employees of a contractor or venue, likely also non-white) think about what they overheard?
  2. Related: What gets left behind after a Trump rally? Empty out a garbage bin and write a list of everything inside there.
  3. Pick one person, just one, inside the rally and stick with them the entire time. Tell the story of the rally from their perspective. Now pick a person outside the rally. Do the same. Tell the two stories in turn, without judging either.
  4. Real-time fact check, a la Daniel Dale.  Preferably without using any cutesy “four pants-on-fires” bullshit.
  5. Count the number of times Trump repeats himself. He doesn’t just say untrue shit, he says the same untrue shit, over and over and over. Find a line he’s used a thousand times and list all the times he’s used it and in what contexts.
  6. Trump goes into a community for one of these things. What does it cost that community? Police, fire, security, cleanup, setup, traffic, etc. How many people locally get pressed into service?
  7. Find the person who would be affected the most by Trump’s message that day. If you know where he’s going to be, a local organization can find you somebody to talk to. You know what his bugaboos are: immigrants, veterans, etc. Have somebody local in these places on call for those topics in case he goes off.
  8. Change your perspective. If he’s gonna be on about the military, watch the speech from a VFW. Watch the speech from a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, public library, anyplace where people are the farthest from public policymaking but most impacted by it.
  9.  Get genuine response. Don’t just ask the chairman of the local Dem organization for a perfunctory “what a complete load of bullshit, say some critics who may or may not be right because we have no ability to tell” obligation-graf. Get a response that presents an alternate reality to what you heard from Trump. Say to someone, “If you had given a speech here tonight as president, what would you have talked about?”
  10. Trump clock: Note when he makes a promise of something happening there in the town you’re in. Return to it when that deadline passes. Keep returning to it.

These are all things that can be done while feeding neither Trump’s ego nor, honestly, the Resistance. Nobody’s asking you to stand there screaming YOU LIE every second, which is what you’d have to do, because he lies every second.

What we are asking are perspectives that don’t involve simply repeating what he said with his title after it and giving it the same credence as you would a pronouncement from a normal president.

Though I suppose that makes us just as bad as people who want to put journalists in concentration camps and hang them from the sour apple tree.

And if you’re reaching for that argument, maybe pick up a butter churn instead.


Civility Is Overrated

Anyone with a pulse should recognize that we’re going through another IOKIYAR moment. Republicans and their allies in the MSM as well as some spineless liberal pundits are lecturing us about manners and civility. It’s particularly rich when the party in power is led by the crudest and rudest president* since Andrew Johnson. We’re being told that manners are for Democrats and that it’s RUDER for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be refused service in an eatery than for the Trump regime to imprison children. Once again: IOKIYAR.

I, for one, refuse to be lectured by the followers of a president* who sucks up to dictators while attacking our friends and allies. The rationale for tariffs against the best neighbor in the world, Canada, is national security. Justin Trudeau is a threat to our national security? Imagine if Barack Obama had insulted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this manner when they were both in office. The outrage on the right would have exceeded Tan Suitgate. Once again: IOKIYAR.

The Insult Comedian’s persistent racism has inspired his supporters to go after religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. It’s become commonplace to hear of insults being thrown at people of color but when Maxine Waters attacks Donald Trump that’s out-of-bounds incivility. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Some intrepid soul on twitter dug up an article detailing how Paul Ryan celebrated a baker who refused to serve Joe Biden during the 2012 election.  The same Paul Ryan is lecturing us about civility. All hail the Miss Manners of Wisconsin. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Then there’s former Nixon and Reagan aide David Gergen who I thought had been put out to pasture long ago,

Since rampant both-siderism has broken out, I have an example from each side back then. On the right, Bull Connor sicced dogs on children protesting for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama. On the left, a favorite chant of anti-war protesters was: “Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?”

Sounds like incivility to me, but what do I know? I didn’t write dog-whistle laden speeches for Tricky Dick, which somehow makes Gergen an expert on civility.

I am in favor of civility in the abstract. I used to be able to discuss politics with conservative friends and relations without drawing blood. That started eroding when Bush the younger was president and ground to a full-stop when those folks wouldn’t admit racism was a factor in Obama derangement syndrome on the right.

There’s been plenty of incivility from the right in my lifetime. Those of us who opposed the Iraq War were accused of siding with terrorists and opposing the troops. The same bunch wants us to be civil in the face of children being torn apart from their parents; a policy that even Laura Bush finds rude. As they say across the pond, BOLLOCKS.

The MSM, Republicans, and their fellow travelers among the liberal punditocracy are using the word civility as a wet blanket to smother dissent. Genuine civility is based on mutual respect as opposed to unilateral verbal disarmament.

I think Amanda Marcotte summed it up nicely on the tweeter tube:

Civility is overrated. I’ll take honesty over hypocritical “niceness” any day.

Repeat after me: IOKIYAR.

Job’s The Same Today

Fuck Gorsuch and just less than half of SCOTUS and McConnell and Ryan and everybody writing about “civility” and the millions of people who voted for Trump because he made them feel good about themselves and fuck the people screaming at the press at Trump rallies and goddamn, blast, confound and fuck every single person in this administration today.

Kick and I spent last night writing postcards to lawmakers over family detention and making plans with friends for another march this weekend, after marching last weekend, because there are fascists in power and we have weekends off work.

I told Kick, who is prone to internalizing everything and processing it as nightmares and also is four years old, that we were writing to the government because the government was not treating children fairly. Why? Because of the color of their skin, I said, citing our picture books about Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou.

(“When government does something we don’t like we ask them to change it,” I told her.

“Can I have a cookie when we get there?”

#WokeToddler is more like #HungryToddler and I can’t tell you how many protests I’ve bribed her through with food or the promise of a playground later.)

It didn’t feel like much, writing postcards. We made cards for the children in detention and she colored them. Especially today, it didn’t feel like much.

But we’re not on the barricades here, not all of us. Some of us are running office supplies and ice cream for the people who are. And some of us aren’t on the barricades today, but will be tomorrow. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Nobody’s coming, so save yourselves, and the person to your left, and the person to your right.

Do not be daunted, says my childhood Bible from its box in my attic, by the enormity of the world’s misery. Do justly, now.

Job’s the same as it ever was. Save as many as you can. Feel free to post ideas about how/where to do that, in the comments.


Historical Both Sides!

Read this now.

The führer and the tattletale: Adolf Hitler’s aggression, Anne Frank’s leaks signal a troubling decline in European manners.
— @nytimesworld, January 11th, 1945, 2:42 PM




Sean Spicer is a nice guy!

From articles I read, people who knew him (on both sides) said he wasn’t a bad guy even if they didn’t agree with him. So I can see where he gets the job thinking “OK, all that was just for the election but now it will just be a White House administration like any other.’ Then he actually has to do the job and is like “Fuck! This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Honestly, if that was the case he should have walked on Day 1 out the door but I dunno….maybe he thought others could reign Trump in a bit…Trump would realize he couldn’t just spout off whatever he thought & let his Press Secretary do his job…whatever. Spicey is someone you want to hate and then you see all this goofy stuff he does (like the van pic) and then don’t.

He was a part of this administration after “grab ’em by the pussy” and mocking disabled reporters and calling Mexican immigrants rapists.

That’s it. That’s enough. That’s all it should take to get you blackballed from polite society forever.

No takebacks after you quit. No book deals from legitimate publishers. No fucking jokey appearances among your fellow rich Caucasians at parties. No talk show appearances. You worked for a fucking criminal and liar, we’re done.

This goes double for half the #NeverTrump crowd, btw. Write an apology book and it’s like all those people dead in NOLA didn’t happen! Magic.



Atrios gets close to something here that we talk about a lot: 

I get the objective pose in journalism, and it makes sense in a lot of contexts, but in political coverage it is inconsistently applied and, for normal people, completely inverted. It’s okay to express outrage that someone said something mean about John McCain. It’s “political” and “taking sides” to give a shit about brown kids being kidnapped from their parents. It would not be “taking sides” to give a shit if white kids were being kidnapped from their DC private schools. In other parts of journalism, the question of what to emphasize can be divorced from ideological leanings, but in political coverage it just can’t be. It is everything.

Which is the question of escalation. It’s a three-day crisis when a comedian kinda-sorta insults Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but call Hillary Clinton a “bull dyke” (as Roger Stone did) and not only will no one raise an eyebrow, you might even get invited on CNN as an expert source! Only some things get escalated to all-day-speculation-and-chatter status.

Only some things are worth examining or arguing about, and raising to the level of discussion that everybody and their hairdresser can have an opinion about it.

I sat at a table recently listening to someone very seriously make the argument that Democrats — currently our last best hope for keeping many people alive — just needed to “find a voice” that could “rise above the chaos” and somehow magically capture media attention, as if what gets made into a weeklong story is a matter of merit. As if, if the work is good enough, it will magically find its audience. As if none of this is true:

And built into most of the reporting are certain assumptions that at best make no sense and at worst are, themselves, highly ideological. Bipartisanship is good, even though usually the worst things in DC happen under the cover of bipartisanship. Deficits are bad, unless caused by tax cuts. Poor people get “welfare” and rich people get “incentives.” There is no racism, there are just things that are “racially charged.” The only poor people in America are white people in coal country. Black people don’t exist in the South or, really, anywhere. Cops are good. The military is unquestionably good. Republican style patriotism is good.

We have deeply lazy, stupid people in charge of our public discourse, and they will twist themselves into knots rather than admit something counter to their narrative does in fact exist. Maggie Haberman’s all over Twitter yelling that the word “lie” doesn’t matter and Politico’s “analysts” are calling Trump’s goat rodeo in North Korea some kind of secret brilliance and it’s all to avoid having to do things differently. We act like there are rules stopping us from doing or saying anything.

There aren’t any rules. At least, none that we didn’t make up, and can un-make.


America First

Look, I have seen the Miracle on Ice game 457 times. I own three books about it, I own the game on DVD, I have met the majority of the team in person and Jim Craig put his arm around me and Mark Wells kissed my hand, and I almost died of joy the day I met Herb Brooks and he signed a box of Cheerios for me.

My point is, if you want someone to bag on Russia I am generally your girl.

But I feel like we’re missing something here: 

Michael Hayden, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe podcast, chalked up peoples’ fear over Jade Helm 15 to “Russian bots and the American alt-right media [that] convinced many Texans [Jade Helm] was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents.”

This was all over my various social media feeds all weekend and the commentary was all SEE RUSSIA ATTACKED US and A FOREIGN POWER INTERFERED and WE NEED NATIONAL SECURITY ON THIS NOW when the part that I saw said this:

Weeks before the exercise began, Abbott wrote a letter to the State Guard asking them to keep an eye on the operation so “Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” In the letter, Abbott added that he had “the utmost respect for the deep patriotism of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to fight for and defend our freedom.”

Can we please, while we are getting mad at Russia and making cartoons of Trump servicing Putin in various repulsive ways, spare a thought for our homegrown ratfuckers, who are doing and continue to do immeasurable damage way, way offline?

I just … I get it, okay? The ins and outs of the Mueller investigation, the revelations that yes, Jared Kushner and Don Jr. are as dumb and venal as we thought they were, that Trump is mobbed up and always has been … I get that all of this is horrifying. Colluding with Russia is horrifying, and the idea of Russia stirring shit up because Putin wanted to be a chaos-causing shitlord is definitely something we should be concerned about.

But I guess I just can’t get as concerned about Russia as I can about Sinclair Broadcasting, you know? When we talk about who drove the most votes, what informs the nice ladies of the Midwest who attend the megachurch, we’re back to talk radio and cable news and the easy, lazy narratives that get fed into the Republican puke funnel and extruded all over the editorial pages of our august publications.

We’re back to idiots like Abbott, who is not even smart enough to know how dumb he is, stirring shit to appeal to the Limbaugh crowd, and we’re back to Limbaugh and his lesser lights, who moved votes the GOP’s racist way long before Mark Zuckerberg got the idea to rate college girls based on hotness.

We’re back to political reporting that treats politics like a joke, we’re back to how it was just horrible that that nice lady Sarah Huckabee Sanders got made fun of, we’re back to “both sides” and “very fine people.” I think this stuff tweaks me more than anything Russia could do at this point because unlike tracing whatever shit comes out of Wikileaks at least “the American alt-right media” is something we have a prayer of fighting back against.

Let’s work on America’s assholes first.


Enquiring Minds Flip On The Fixer

If Fox News is state television for the Trump era, the National Enquirer is the state newspaper. That’s right, a sleazy supermarket tabloid is the Trumper’s Pravda. Trump is often called a reality teevee president* it is equally accurate to call him a tabloid president*.

Long before reality teevee became a thing, Trumpy was a tabloid tycoon. When Enquiring Minds go after one of the Insult Comedian’s former lackeys, that’s some serious shit. It’s the Fixer’s turn on the checkout aisle:

Much like articles in the  old Soviet press, *what* Pecker’s publication says is less important than the headlines.  Its stories are usually lies about secrets and lies. The import is that Trump’s inner circle expects Cohen to flip like a pancake now that he’s on Team Mueller’s flattop grill.  I  would share some lies about secrets and lies but the story isn’t online yet and I’m not shelling out money for Pecker’s putrid publication. It’s okay: hardcore Trumpers (hereinafter the 20%) would rather look at the pictures anyway. Why read when your hero is functionally illiterate?

The notion that Michael Cohen would make like Sopranos capo Big Pussy and rat the boss out is not exactly shocking.  It reminds me of a line Sam Spade threw at the Fat Man’s gunsel Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

Gaudy patter is the Fixer’s speciality.

Since my Life Imitates The Sopranos pictures are so popular, here are side-by-side stoolies:

The guy with the pinky ring looks more like a law school graduate than the nitwit with the cell phone. So it goes.

Since Cohen is big in the taxi business, I’ve been meaning to post this pre-Uber Tull tune. There’s no time like the present:


Run, Hamsters, Run

How many times do you have to see this before it becomes too embarrassing to fall for it one more time?

Do you have to be reminded about ACORN?

About Shirley Sherrod?

About Howard Dean?

About John Kerry?

About Van Jones?

About Paul Wellstone’s funeral, or Coretta Scott King’s?

About Planned Parenthood, NPR, and probably six dozen other wheels onto which you jumped and ran in the past 15 years?

Over and over and over they do this and every time, every single time, you react the same way.

Please, Mr. Republican, don’t hurt me. I’m very sorry for doing exactly what you said I did, even though that’s not what I did at all. I’ll be good next time. I promise. 

The cowardice is disgusting. Especially in this case since the entire WHCD blowfest is meant to be about the value of journalism and standing up for First Amendment rights. Those rights apparently extend to wearing a dress and being nice to government functionaries like we’re all in a big game of Candyland together and none of this matters a whit.

The wheel goes round and round and the hamsters keep running. Jill Carroll. Graeme Frost. That Milo creature and his ten-a-penny fascisti and whatever professor they’re pissed at this week. I don’t understand the value in being conned, obviously and completely, when it’s clear to every one of your readers and listeners and viewers that you are being conned and you don’t care because someone was impolite at a party.

Nothing can knock you off the wheel. Not a war based on lies, and the exposure of those lies. Not endless proof that none of the critics or tea people who hate you are motivated entirely by bad faith and pure, uncut racist hate. Not the past two decades of slow destruction you so flippantly blame on “both sides” of “the political divide.”

Over and over they prove to you that you shouldn’t give their criticisms the time of day, much less let them keep you up at night, and still you grovel.

If there’s a shining light here, it’s how few people pay attention to you anymore. I know I should be sad or something, because blah blah blah Guardians of Democracy. There are instances of genuine persecution of journalists in this country and in many others. There is a crying need for strong voices defending freedom of the press, especially against a president whose campaign put you in cages and screamed obscenities in your faces. There is a need for people to stand up and fight back.

You’re not doing that. You’re just running in circles, hoping nobody notices you’re going nowhere.


Today We’re Gonna Find Out

Today is the day, guys:

Today’s the day Fox News has to prove itself to Chuck Todd. Today. Not any point in the past 30 years. Not during the Clinton murder-stravaganza, not during the “does Barack Obama do terrorist fist jabs” era, not at any time during the “are all liberals traitors who want to suck bin Laden off” 2000s, not during the Swift Boat Veterans for Bullshit, not when Sarah Palin brought sexy back, not at any of those points.

(Not on, say, a random Tuesday, either, when Jesse Watters was being racist or Bill O’Reilly was making lists of things that bugged him or Neil Cavuto was doing whatever that bloated sack of haggis leavings did.)


Now Chuck Todd needs proof that they’re a legitimate news organization. This derpy bastard.

This is a professional newspersonage, who gets paid SO MUCH GODDAMN MONEY to pretend to an innocence about news and politics that would shame an ingenue.

You went to parties with these people. You shook hands and slapped backs and made nice and you acted like these were your colleagues and in some cases your buds. You didn’t want to say they were bad because that would make you bad, and they are, and you are, and they’ve always been and so have you and no amount of cover you gave them changed things for either of you.

NOW you come out and say this is the test? Now this is the moment?

The goddamn house has burned down, arson investigators are sifting through the ashes, the insurance company’s already sued somebody, and Chuck Todd is swanning around fanning his face, asking does anybody else smell smoke.

For chrissakes, the fire department’s been and gone, Chuck. Home is a scorched and reeking hole in the ground. You watched it happen. Now you think you see a spark?


Saturday Odds & Sods: Shoot Out The Lights

Deux Fois du Noir by Yves Tanguy

We resume our regularly scheduled programming after my Wag The Dog Incoherently post. Somebody’s gotta be normal in these abnormal times.

It’s been an interesting week in New Orleans. A 4,200 gallon oil spill isn’t huge by oil industry standards but it’s stinky enough that residents are raising a stink about it. A good thing: minor oil spills are way of life on the Big Muddy, which could be re-nicknamed the Big Oily or Big Greasy. Either way it’s not good. It’s actually diesel fuel. Vin Diesel was unavailable for comment…

The big local story this week was the sale of Gambit Weekly to the Advocate. Because of savvy management by owners Margot and Clancy DuBos, Gambit is one of the few alt-weeklies that has thrived in the internet era. The deal includes retention of Gambit’s crack editorial team including my friend Kevin Allman as editor. (In the interests of full disclosure, Clancy is also a friend.) Kevin helped bring the publication into online era, which made it an attractive proposition to the Advocate. One reason for the staff retention is that Advocate publisher Dan Shea was purged by the Picayune and has some empathy for other journalists. Imagine that. Besides, the Gambit staff is as talented as all get out. As far as I’m concerned, this is good news as it will allow Gambit to survive in a tough environment for alt-weeklies. Here’s hoping that the Advocate people will keep their word about letting Gambit be Gambit. So far, the signs are good.

This week’s theme song is the title track of one of the greatest break-up albums of all-time. It’s eerie to hear Linda Thompson sing sad songs written by her soon-to-be ex-husband. Shoot Out The Lights has developed into one of the signature songs of Richard Thompson’s live set. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a swell cover by Los Lobos.

Now we’ve shot out the lights, let’s take a shot at jumping to the break.

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History Is Made At The Gray Lady

It’s presidential* projection time.  I never thought I’d see this word in a headline at the Failing New York Times:

I thought slimeball was one word. Since Trump *is* one, I guess he knows how to spell it.

Newspapers Finally Fighting Back Against Newspaper Owners

It’s about goddamn time: 

Here in Colorado, Alden has embarked on a cynical strategy of constantly reducing the amount and quality of its offerings, while steadily increasing its subscription rates. In doing so, the hedge fund managers — often tellingly referred to as “vulture capitalists” — have hidden behind a narrative that adequately staffed newsrooms and newspapers can no longer survive in the digital marketplace. Try to square that with a recent lawsuit filed by one of Digital First Media’s minority shareholders that claims Alden has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars of its newspaper profits into shaky investments completely unrelated to the business of gathering news.

For 30 years this has been the case. Sure, Craigslist didn’t help, but all Craigslist and the Internet did was remove the ability of newspapers’ owners to steal without COMPLETELY gutting the place. Now they can’t stop stealing and/or gambling, but the safety net that was travel, automotive and classified advertising is gone.

This year began with The Post recovering from more bloodshed as it packed up to leave its namesake city, its journalists clinging to the hope that a newly launched initiative to charge for online content would improve its fortunes.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it at increasing volumes until SOMEBODY FUCKING BELIEVES ME: No amount of income will fix a fundamentally broken structure. It will only prop it up for a time. Without independence and investment this is gonna keep happening SO STOP GODDAMN FALLING FOR IT, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICS, IT’S EMBARRASSING.

We get it that things change. We get it that our feelings are raw and no doubt color our judgment. But we’ve been quiet too long.

No shit.

I’m sorry, I should be cheering this, except that I’ve been writing about it since 2003 and living it since 1994 and it would be nice if the dozen people who figured this out years ago didn’t keep getting called hysterical in meetings.

The smart money is that in a few years The Denver Post will be rotting bones. And a major city in an important political region will find itself without a newspaper.

It’s time for those Coloradans who care most about their civic future to get involved and see to it that Denver gets the newsroom it deserves.

Like, how, though? Paying for news and pumping more money into these hedge-funded pits? That’s the only suggestion  I’ve seen recently that applies to ordinary people, most of who just want a fuckin’ paper on their porch and/or a website that doesn’t heave up its breakfast all over your browser.

I have suggestions if you want them. Support your local independent news outlet. Find out who’s making real news in your community and support that, pay for that, back that. Employee buyouts, another good option for profitable shops, will work only with bankers willing to lend the kind of money it would take. That would also require people who considering they are journalists are really fucking risk averse to take risks not just with their lives but with their families’ and that’s a hard row to hoe if you don’t love this in your bones.

Everybody says they do, but not everybody does. A lot of people will watch their colleagues walk out the door and not do shit because kids, mortgage, etc, and fear is a powerful motivator. It kept people silent for years when there were enough of them to stop it. Now there aren’t enough of them left.

Sometimes the entire Resistance fits in a Yugo and I honestly don’t know if there’s any gas left in the tank.


No Money for Journalism

There never is any.

I’m getting to the point where I’m thinking anybody working for a non-indy, non-worker-owned news outlet is just getting goddamn taken.


They Can’t Help Themselves

In the spirit of the week after Holy Week, I thought I’d write about the disgusting attacks on the Parkland kids by adults. The attacks keep backfiring, leading to apologies from Frank Stallone, Laura Ingraham, and others. Ingraham famously apologized  in the “spirit of Holy Week.” Does that mean she wouldn’t apologize for sliming David Hogg on another week? All Ingraham and her lorons care about is saving advertisers and her shitty show.

Attacking teenagers, tweens, and even younger chirren is not a good look for grown ass adults, but it’s not uncommon on the right. Fox News is a repository (suppository?) of attacks on younger Americans. (It’s particularly  weird for those of us who experienced the young conservatives of the 1980’s who saw Reagan as their political grandpa and became tribal Republicans.)  And it’s not just in the more out of sorrow than anger”kids today” manner, it’s out-and-out hostility:

In the month and a half since the shooting in Parkland, FL, Ingraham herself has said the Parkland students should not be given “special consideration” on gun policy; told her viewers that the March 14 student walkout wasn’t some sort of “organic outpouring of youthful rage,” but rather “nothing but a left-wing, anti-Trump diatribe”; and complained that anti-abortion protesters didn’t get the same attention. Two of Fox’s other primetime hosts, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, both dismissed the students as pawns being manipulated by gun control advocates. Carlson went a step further, calling the students “self-righteous kids” who “weren’t helping at all” and comparing them to Mao’s Red Guards. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who is also a Fox News contributor, dismissed the students as just “children, not founts of wisdom,” and Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth responded to the student-organized March For Our Lives by angrily commenting, “Spare me if I don’t want to hear the sanctimoniousness of a 17-year-old.” Fox’s sustained and hostile attacks on students in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting fit right into the network’s years-long pattern of insulting and belittling students and children.

Wingnuts have only one mode: attack mode. They do it when it won’t work and when it will backfire with anyone *outside* the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and their ilk don’t understand how they sound to average Americans because they seem to only talk to people who agree with them. They certainly only care about those people. It’s why they can’t help themselves.

The 24-hour (minute? second?) news cycle and social media can be wonderful things. They can also be dangerous when used by people with no impulse control who don’t seem to realize that what they say and/or tweet is public and archivable. It’s getting harder and harder to trash talk people behind their backs because slurs live forever on the interweb. Impulse control is out of fashion because of the Current Occupant who was born in a bubble and basks in the glow of the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. The Insult Comedian sets the tone for his acolytes, which is why it’s ugly out there and getting uglier every day.

Remember when we had a president who thought before speaking and didn’t trash everyone who disagreed with him? It wasn’t that long ago. It can happen here again.

When I say that the wingnuts and gun nuts can’t help themselves, I’m not excusing their malakatude and verbal diarrhea. It’s a feeble attempt to explain why they do the things they do.  Attacking the Parkland kids is not going to work. It would be better for the flying monkeys of the far right to say something like, “I’m sorry they’ve been traumatized but I disagree with them.” How hard is that? Too hard for them, apparently. Since they live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber, they can’t help themselves.

Now Activist Kids are Killing Journalism


What a tool.

Let me list, in order, the things that are killing trust in “our profession:”

  1. A 24-hour propaganda network streamed into every doctor’s office in the Midwest telling people that the news is fake and journalists are evil and biased and vaguely terroristic somehow.
  2. One of two major political parties spending the past four decades attacking the free press every time some reporter somewhere pointed out that they were full of shit.
  3. The other political party pretending numbers 1 and 2 didn’t exist, and whining ineffectively about message discipline.
  4. The press pretending numbers 1-3 didn’t exist.
  5. Rapacious corporate ownership that has stripped local communities of their unique voices, from cutting small newspapers down to glorified shoppers to replacing radio news with syndicated hate.
  6. Hedge fund managers loading up big city papers with debt, paying millions to executives and consultants who just happened to be their buds, giving them free reign to do whatever stupid shit they wanted while laying off every reporter who had the misfortune to be spotted actually working.
  7. An entire cottage industry of turns-out-mostly-perverts who parlayed average sourcing and borderline-adequate writing into some kind of legendary “insider” status, plus everyone who lined up to party with said inside perverts, plus everyone who invited them to speak at their colleges.
  8. Politico, Axios, whatever “ideas festival” is asking people to show up on stage with Steve Bannon, and earnest profiles questioning what Nazis want.
  9. Epic whining and defensiveness every time someone — and Isidor Stone forbid it is a young person — happens to mention 1-8 and correctly point out that all of it is crap.

These are the top nine things destroying journalism. A student journo talking about the need to speak truth to power and call bullshit on bullshit is number 697 if you accept that it’s a problem at all, which I for one do not.

There have forever been all kinds of journalism, even before these dastardly internets: Activist publications, advocacy journals, specialty and satire and yes, partisan media. The existence of none of these was a problem so long as they weren’t the only game in town, and if you think the only game in town twas ever self-professed objectivity William Randolph Hearst has a nice war with Spain he’d like to sell you.



All About That Platform

This, about Netflix:

reminded me of the entire OMG FACEBOOK STOLE OUR JOURNALISM AND WON’T PAY US clusterfuck which directly followed the OMG BLOGGERS STOLE OUR JOURNALISM AND WON’T PAY US clusterfuck, which followed the very very old OMG CRAIGSLIST STOLE OUR CLASSIFIED ADS AND WON’T PAY US clusterfuck.

Journalism entitlement clusterfucks interest me because they’re a prime example of the unasked question. Instead of yelling about why they “give away” their content to “other publishers” for free, they should be asking, “why do people prefer to encounter our content on another platform?”

It’s not just that Facebook is free. It’s the ease of use, the addictive nature, the ability to share and discuss and talk back. Facebook doesn’t drop 56 ad trackers on your computer and then crash every browser you own. If you sign into Facebook it doesn’t reject your login six times and then ask you to re-register and then start a free trial and then enter your billing information and then double-charge you and then send your receipt to the wrong e-mail address and then ask you to reset your password and then tell you you already used that password in the past five years and if you’d like to chat with a customer service rep here’s a popup window you have no way to close.

Not that I’m describing in any way a real newspaper. That rhymes with Schmibune.

(This is, by the way, not a defense of Facebook. It’s a defense of websites working like they should.)

If newspapers, which do not understand the business of newspapers, understood the business of online news they’d make something easy, reliable, valuable, and integrate micro-purchases in-app and curate a comments section that isn’t a trash fire of elderly InfoWars veterans throwing hamburger wrappers at each other.

The newspapers that have managed online subscriptions and web content well — NYT, the Post — have done that. It’s your local Gannett/Lee Newspapers chain paper that hasn’t, and that’s where most people feel the lack. It’s also from whence the most epic journalistic whining about Facebook and Twitter come.

More time and attention spent examining the aspects of alternative platforms that users (customers) enjoy and emulating those things would pay off in ways shitting all over social media never will.


Ferro, Tronc, Journalism and Money

This guy is a boring, gross asshole who is getting paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS while laying off journalists, please talk to me some more about how I don’t value news: 

Both women say they were drawn to these late night meetings by the promise of financial reward—further investment and connections for Minshew; a potential partnership and possibly even a lucrative job for Kappler. After these encounters, both described being frightened and taken by surprise, as well as fearing that their business ventures were in jeopardy.

Minshew and Kappler, who are now speaking about their experiences on the record for the first time, encountered Ferro through his work as an investor and dealmaker. But his sphere of influence and power increased over the past couple of years after he became the non-executive chairman and largest shareholder of Tronc, the publishing powerhouse that includes iconic titles like the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and the Baltimore Sun.

On Monday, Ferro announced that he was retiring from the board of directors of Tronc, and that CEO Justin Dearborn would succeed him as chairman. Ferro will still be paid $5 million-per-year by Tronc through Dec. 31, 2020, to serve as a consultant.

Consultant on what, exactly? What on earth could possibly be the value he provides? For years we’ve been told our newspapers are transforming into more nimble, digital-first enterprises focused on the internet because all us terrible dastardly readers didn’t want to pay for news anymore, and all it’s ever seemed to mean is cutting days, cutting staff, cutting the physical size of the paper down to a pamphlet and propping up a website that heaves with pop-ups.

This is the Chicago Tribune’s front page today, without Ad Blocker running.

Where is the news? What am I supposed to look at? Where is the name of the goddamn paper? Why did my browser just empty both barrels into itself?

When Ad Blocker does run, the little SIGN UP TODAY! pop-up is still there, the menus are still tiny and I don’t see how laying off a bunch of reporters fixes this problem. In fact, the more reporters that get laid off, the dumber this shit seems to become. Subscribing doesn’t get me an ad-free experience. It just gets me access to the articles if I can find them under all the sponcon and automotive pimping going on.

If this is the indispensable knowledge for which Ferro’s employees were expected to endure his sad, middle-aged advances, it sucks.

Whenever there’s a round of layoffs, as there was last week, journalists jump on Twitter to sanctimoniously lecture everybody about how if we all paid for news none of this would be happening. WHICH ISN’T THE GODDAMN CASE. We could all pay for news tomorrow at the rates people subscribed to print in the 1940s and anuses like Ferro would still siphon it all off to snort blow off a hooker’s tits.

It’s easier to yell at imaginary readers online than it is to yell at your bosses to adequately value what you do for a living over their own venal, sexually harassative interests. But the boards who hire disgusting pigs like Ferro for their supposedly irreplaceable genius and pay them like they’re worth anything more than a wooden nickel and a punt in the junk need to hear that there are people in the industry starting to see through this bullshit.

In the end corporate ownership and hedge fund-backed chain management have done damage to journalism the internet could only dream of doing, taking money away from the things it could pay for to throw at “consultants” who are just trying to bang the interns.